Wednesday, June 23, 2010

State of the Hobby: For Fun Or Profit?

A comment by @LongFlyBall on Twitter this week in regards to the, at the time, bid of $37K+ on the Stephen Strasburg Red 1/1 Auto, got me thinking about this subject.

"I swear, if this stupid card even approaches the price of the original T-206 set up for auction I am quitting the hobby. "

Seeing that just 2 days later the card is over six figures, I honestly hope that this auction ends up being bogus as the seller made a HUGE mistake not setting it up fro pre-approve bidders only Because whether it was said in jest or fact, the above statement does make for interesting conjecture. While I might not go that far, I can certainly sympathize with the sentiment.

The question posed in the title is more rhetorical in nature and don't have to be mutually exclusive. Don't we all all flip cards on eFee (eBay), that we don't want to get cash for cards we do want? I imagine if you are a collector that hasn't purchased 2010 Bowman, trying to score a Strasburg or Harper simply to sell as quickly as possible, that you would be in the minority.

Many of us have dreamed about how to turn our beloved hobby into a means of providing a full time income and/or hitting that "money" pull. Truth be told, it is extremely, extremely difficult to accomplish either of these and despite the odds of pulling, a legitimate, 6-figure card, you can make the argument that it would be easier to accomplish that, then to make a living buying/selling sports cards.

Sometimes it seems we as collectors get caught up in the money side of things and lose sight of why we collect in the first place. I am as guilty as anyone. I see people being able to afford more product than myself, constantly buying and selling, scoring the occasional major sale, flipping prospects for good money and want a piece of the action for myself. In my case, the ongoing Vintage Consignment(s) are fun, but also a lot of work and sometimes after a long day of work, fixing dinner, playing with the kids, etc, I just want to veg on the couch and watch Pawn Stars rather than sort, scan, and list cards on eFee.

As with anything in life, balance is important and when it comes to a "hobby" as addictive as ours, it is extremely important. That's why I love the self-created graphic accompanying this post. If you are ultimately in it (The Hobby) for money, more often than not, you will end up very disappointed. Remember, have fun, find balance, collect what you like.


dogfacedgremlin said...

Raises hand with guilt

I admit, the Bowman hype caught me. I couldn't help myself and the addiction took over. But it wasn't like I got an auto or superfractor. I had a Chrome, I flipped it, and the money is going to buy a birthday present for my youngest son. So that's how I am dealing with my shame.

Joe S. said...

Hey, as long as people are buying cards and keeping them relevant, I'm happy. I mostly only buy singles that I like, but when I do buy a box I make sure there's at least SOMETHING I can sell and put towards other cards, unless I'm collating the entire set.

John Bateman said...

It is part of what is called the thrill of the chase. It can be fun and profitable at the same time.

I was in Walmart the other day and there it was, the last jumbo pack hanging there, I knew there wasn't anything good in there (there wasn't except a Posey rookie) because of the pack searchers but I could not let it stay there, I had to but it (see above)

GCA said...

I think there are still a fair amount of collectors that are in it exclusively for the fun. I count myself in that group. And there are cards that are worth a lot that (I/we) would like to own, but the appeal is owning a nice item, not making a nice cash profit on it.
I have also observed and read others that agree that there are many people that buy, sell and trade cards for the sole purpose of reselling them for cash. These people deal mainly in high end items.
I haven't decided whether there are more of these "profiteers" than real set builders or player/team collectors or not, but I imagine it's a lot closer than it used to be.

SportsCardKids said...

Great article! Having launched my website this year after nearly 3 years of planning, I can tell you that it is next to impossible to make a decent living solely off of selling cards. On my site, the sale of cards is basically enough to allow me to break even after all my expenses (including the contest prizes). The money from the site will eventually come from advertising, but that is at least a year down the road. The only way I'm able to run the site is that I have a full-time job with lots of flexibility in hours and a good paycheck.

I say all this simply to show that this hobby does not lend itself to making a quick buck (unless you pull a Strasburg 1/1, of course). If you do not truly love the hobby and are simply in it to make a buck, you will be quickly disappointed.

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