1. You Down With MDP?
Talking to Topps employees you often hear the phrase "internal red tape". It speaks to the tight budget control the private equity ownership deploys at Topps. Madison Dearborn Partners and other private equity firms attempt to squeeze profits out of a business and then sell it later on. That's not malicious, or a bad business strategy. It's what they do.

Think sports card message boards are full of angry old men? Visit a Yahoo Finance forum and it will make card collectors look like Kum-Ba-Yah nation. Business is a cut throat thing. Employees are merely "head count". When a Dearborn big wig is ripping a drive on the famous Pebble Beach golf course, the last thing on his mind are the cards you got out of your box of 2013 Five Star Baseball.

2. Helpless Employees
Topps isn't a place to go work if you want to take creative control of a product line. Some employees have mentioned a "good old boys club" exists at the New York company.  It appears even the ones with some decision making power, well, that power is limited. Working at Topps is far from a dream job. Most rarely rub elbows with famous stars. Topps doesn't have a huge inventory to dip into to cure backlogged redemptions. Employees can't spend money at will to get cards printed and signed by the players collectors are waiting on. When you speak to Topps employees, the conversation isn't about how they are working on making the best set of cards. The conversation is usually about how their hands are tied.

3. Made To Order Products
Topps says that their products are made to order.  Maybe the hobby products. Just those right? Target and WalMart don't pre-order Allen & Ginter retail six months out. Get out of here with that. "Made to order" means Topps only makes what the wholesale distributors purchase way in advance. That is why you see previews of Topps sets that don't come out for months. Topps will claim their made to order philosophy also impacts redemption cards. If they don't know how many boxes they will make until orders come in, Topps says this delays the acquisition of autographs.  

It also speaks to a larger issue. You, the collector, are not Topps' customer. The wholesale distributor is who Topps cares about most. Topps sells the product to the distributor, then they move onto the next product in the cycle. Your redemption cards or customer service issues are a secondary concern.

4. The Brand has Value
One thing Topps has going for it over it's competitors is brand equity. Topps has sets that collectors are familiar with. Finest, Topps Chrome, Allen & Ginter, Bowman, Triple Threads, Flagship brands. By contrast, competitor Panini, has much weaker brands. Many of Panini's best brands were bought from the failing Donruss company.  I often try to engage casual or non-collectors into conversations about cards. Most are familiar with some of the brands in the Topps stable even if they don't collect anymore. Some still remember the good old days of Upper Deck. Familiarity with Panini America brands? Yeah right. 

The MLB typically likes to deal with American companies. Topps and the MLB have had a long history. Don't look for anyone besides Topps to make licensed baseball cards anytime soon, even after their current deal runs out.

5. Why I Bash On Topps
Some of their products are nice and I enjoy buying single cards throughout the year. Most of the good ones I buy are Topps. Panini cards don't look as nice. A card with a sticker autograph? C'Mon. I don't have any kind of emotional attachment to Topps. I was a lucky one, when I was in 7th grade I got hired to work at a card shop. I quickly became more interested in the business of cards, and not the cards themselves. Over the years I've sold cases of Topps products on eBay, opened (and closed) my own sports card store, and currently promote Topps products on various card websites.

Topps as a company is in a tough spot. It's almost like rooting for a sports team that has bad ownership. You don't really know what to do. Many people rely on Topps products to earn a living. I know what it is like to struggle running a sports card business. The margin is slim, the help is none, and the hours can be long. Failing at my sports card store during 2006-2008 was one of the worst times of my life. I worry some are in the same spot I was in. That is probably one reason why, at times, I speak out in a negative way about Topps.

In combination with my brother Colin, we help sell current Topps products in a way. The sports card websites we work on have gotten several million views over the years. Over a half million people will visit Sports Card Radio during the year, in most part to find out information on sets. It was all by accident. After we went broke running a card store in 2008, Colin started a sports card podcast on a whim. Collectors started to email my brother about his show. They were so positive and urged him to keep going.

You can make decent money if you have a website getting thousands of visitors each day. Probably a little more than you think, even a site about baseball cards. I can pay my bills. I couldn't do that running a card store. If those collectors in the early days didn't email my brother and encourage him to keep working on the shows and the site, I'd probably be hiring nurses for a living.

In late 2012 we started to get several emails a week about customer service issues at Topps. Many collectors were having problems with old redemptions they were waiting on.

Colin and I can be overtly negative toward Topps. What? Are we going to continue promoting Topps sets without saying anything? C'Mon. It doesn't sit well with us to make money on the backs of collectors, then turn our backs when they are having issues. If it wasn't for card collectors I'd be getting up at 7 a.m. to go work somewhere tomorrow. If they are having problems with Topps, then I am willing to complain and be a class A jerk. That's something I don't see changing.

6. What Can You Do?
Do you stop buying their products? I don't think you have to go that far. Some of their problems may not impact you and your collecting style. If you are waiting on a Topps redemption card that is over 15 weeks old, I would highly suggest opening a case with the Better Business Bureau.

Keep in mind that Topps is in the business to make money. That is their utmost concern. They have been able to limit licensing in key sports to unlock a margin to operate. Current management at Topps have no concern about your collection or if you get value from buying a box.

Collectors come at this hobby from so many different angles. Some like single cards, some like new stuff, some like old stuff, some buy packs, some buy boxes, some do group breaks, some don't buy online. It's easy to feel burned when buying cards. They can be expensive and the values can drop off the table quick.  Hopefully you can find niches within the hobby that peak your interest. I don't have a magic wand to wave. If you've been collecting cards for a long time, there is probably something still in it for you to explore.

 
   

 

 

My name is Ryan. Email me if you are waiting on a redemption card from Topps. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
   
   
   
   
Topps Employee: When a redemption card is put into a product, we generally have an agreement with each respective athlete to sign cards for us. However, an athlete's schedule, agent, desired compensation, etc. are all subject to change and greatly affect our inability to insert the particular card in.

My Take: So do you really have a deal?
 

 

Topps Employee: Unfortunately, this does not always guarantee a timely signing session, as professional athletes travel frequently, as well as have varying degrees of willingness to sign cards for us.

My Take: But you have a deal, right?

 

 
Topps Employee: For some redemption cards we have to schedule a printing with an upcoming product release.

My Take: the quote is in regards to a customer waiting for a redemption card. If you read carefully this unlocks one of the reasons why cards take so long to be redeemed from Topps. They will print your card when it fits into their time schedule and budget. Topps will tell customers that their card has "yet to be constructed", thus the delay. Topps will wait until it becomes cost effective to print cards waiting to be signed by an athlete. There are times when they have a scheduled signing session with a player, but fail to have the cards printed in time to get signed.
 

 

Topps Employee: Customers chose to purchase a redemption for a specific player, at their own risk.

My Take: If you buy a redemption card on eBay, and are waiting for it to be redeemed by Topps, don't tell them you bought it on eBay. Tell them you got it out of a pack.

 

 

What if I pull an expired redemption from an old Topps product?

Topps Employee: Independent retailers and large retail stores can of course choose to sell our boxes of cards that contain expired redemptions. We cannot have them recall our product just because 2 cards inside are expired.

 

 

Pack searching at retail stores like Target & WalMart?

Topps Employee: Pack-searching and tampering retail stores has become somewhat of an epidemic, and one that we are constantly trying to police and prevent. However, once our product ships to the retailers, there is little we can do to stop this unfortunate kind of criminality.

 
 
 
   
Funny Topps Redemption Collector on Facebook created a redemption card for Topps. He wants to send them this card for a box of 2013 Triple Threads Baseball. At some point in the next three years Topps will be able to redeem the card for cash.

My name is Ryan. Please contact me if you are waiting on a redemption card from Topps.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
   

Below is a chart that shows what each product cost at the original (Pre-Sale) wholesale price, and compares it to the current wholesale price. In addition, I included the price of quasi-distributors Blowout Cards and DA Card World. To buy wholesale sports cards, you need to have a valid Tax ID number. Some wholesale distributors will only sell to you if you have a brick and mortar store. It's possible to buy products at wholesale without a card store, most group breakers buy cards at wholesale.  You do not need a Tax ID number to buy from Blowout or DA Card World.

As you can see most products dropped in price from the original wholesale price. To me, this signals weak demand across most Baseball, Basketball and Football products. Panini and Upper Deck did not make very many hockey products for the 2012-13 NHL season because of the strike shortened year. 2012-13 NBA products featured a "double rookie class" but demand was still soft.

Questions:

  • Aren't these card companies supposed to be making collectible products?
  • How do card stores make money with this landscape and margins?
  • Check that, how does anyone make money with this landscape and margins?
  • How does Panini throw 2 separate VIP parties during 2013 when......... to me......... I have no idea how they could be a profitable company.

Observations:

  • Topps has some cash in the bank and can weather a down year.
  • 2014 will see an uptick as better draft classes are on the horizon for the NBA and NFL.
  • It's a buyers market if you like to stock pile inventory or do group breaks of older product.
  • It's a buyers market if you like to just open boxes.
  • You could probably take a look back over the years and see similar numbers during years when there were weak rookie classes in the MLB, NBA and/or NFL.

Links:

 
   
I can be reached by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Twitter @SportsCardNews  

 
   
The "Wholesale Pre Sale" Price comes from the original date of solicitation.
Current Wholesale, Blowout Cards and DA Card World prices are from December 3, 2013.
 

 

 

 

 

Wholesale
PRE SALE

 Current
Wholesale

 Blowout
Cards

 DA Card
World

2013 FOOTBALL

 

 

 

 

2013 Panini Absolute Football

$120.00

$110.00

$144.00

$144.95

2013 Panini Certified Football

$75.00

$67.00 

 $69.95

 $77.95

2013 Panini Momentum Football

$150.00

 $122.00

$150.95

$155.95

2013 Panini Elite Football

 $90.00

 $77.00

 $79.95

$83.95

2013 Panini Playbook Football

$150.00

$138.00

$158.95

$159.95

2013 Panini Prizm Football

$75.00

$50.00

$76.95

$85.95

2013 Panini Prizm Football JUMBO

$135.00

$105.00

$146.95

$115.95

2013 Panini Prominence Football

$90.00

 $49.00

-

$68.95

2013 Panini Limited Football

$78.00

 $71.00

$94.00

$94.95

2013 Panini Playbook Football

$150.00

$138.00

$158.95

$159.95

2013 Panini Rookies & Stars Football

$72.00

 $60.00

$76.95

$79.95

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Bowman Football

$72.25

$119.00

$99.95

$139.95

2013 Bowman Sterling Football

$223.25

$170.00

$179.95

$174.95

2013 Topps Football

$47.25

$35.00

$35.95

$39.95

2013 Topps Football JUMBO

 $77.25

 $60.00

 $73.95

 -

2013 Topps Chrome Football

$56.50

$60.00

$65.95

$72.95

2013 Topps Finest Football

$82.00

$87.00

$93.95

$103.95

2013 Topps Inception Football

$74.50

$76.00

-

$82.95

2013 Topps Platinum Football

$78.25

$60.00

$67.95

$69.95

2013 Topps Prime Football

$74.50

$58.00

$64.95

$64.95

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Leaf Metal Draft Football

$70.75

$40.00

$46.95

$42.95

2013 Press Pass Football

$86.75

$50.00

-

$39.95

2013 Press Pass FanFare Football

$78.75

$39.00

$37.95

$40.95

2013 Sage Hit Low Series

$87.50

$40.00

 $44.95

 $39.95

2013 Sage Hit High Series

$87.50

$48.00

$49.95

$39.95

 

 

 

 

 

2013 BASEBALL

 

 

 

 

2013 Panini Cooperstown Baseball

$72.00

$47.00

-

$52.95

2012 Panini National Treasures Baseball

$300.00

 $525.00

-

$619.95

2013 Panini Pinnacle Baseball

$54.00

$33.00

-

$40.95

2012 Panini Prizm Baseball

$75.00

 $38.00

-

$49.95

2013 Panini Prizm Baseball

$75.00

 $53.00

-

$55.95

2013 Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks

$75.00

 $69.00

$79.95

$79.95

2013 Panini Hometown Heroes Baseball

$90.00

 $90.00

$83.95

$84.95

2013 Panini USA Champions

$54.00

$32.00

$34.95

$36.95

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Bowman Baseball

$53.75

$58.00

$62.95

$59.95

2013 Bowman Baseball JUMBO

$99.25

$127.00

$132.95

$139.95

2013 Bowman Chrome Baseball

$56.50

$45.00

$49.95

$53.95

2013 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects

$53.75

$51.00

$58.95

$59.95

2013 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Jumbo

$98.75

$118.00

 

$129.95

2013 Bowman Inception Baseball

$74.50

 $85.00

$94.95

$99.95

2013 Bowman Platinum Baseball

$78.50

$60.00

$69.95

$72.95

2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball

$74.25

$59.00

$64.95

$69.95

2013 Topps Archives Baseball

$74.25

$44.00

 

$49.95

2013 Topps Chrome Baseball

$56.50

 $64.00

$69.95

$75.95

2013 Topps Finest Baseball

$82.00

 $80.00

$86.95

$89.95

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball

$89.25

 $65.00

$64.95

$69.95

2013 Topps Heritage Baseball

$53.75

$52.00

$54.95

$64.95

2013 Topps Heritage Minor League

$53.75

$37.00

$40.95

$35.95

2013 Topps Museum Collection Baseball

$163.75

 $180.00

$189.95

$203.95

2013 Topps Opening Day Baseball

$21.00

 $24.00

$28.95

$30.95

2013 Topps Pro Debut Baseball

$53.75

 $48.00

$52.95

$59.95

2013 Topps Series 1 Baseball

$47.25

$25.00

$24.95

$29.95

2013 Topps Series 1 Baseball JUMBO

$79.50

 $49.00

$67.95

$69.95

2013 Topps Series 2 Baseball

$47.50

$25.00

$29.95

$26.95

2013 Topps Series 2 Baseball JUMBO

$79.50

$49.00

$49.95

$49.95

2013 Topps Triple Threads Baseball

$159.75

$145.00

$149.95

$163.95

2013 Topps Tier One Baseball

$82.00

$67.00

$69.95

$71.95

2013 Topps Update Baseball

$47.25

 $28.00

$34.95

$37.95

2013 Topps Update Baseball JUMBO

$79.50

$60.00

$69.95

-

2013 Topps WBC Tribute

$222.50

 $89.00

 $95.95

 $81.95

 

 

 

 

 

2012-13 BASKETBALL

 

 

 

 

2012-13 Panini Absolute Basketball

$120.00

$70.00

$73.95

$75.95

2012-13 Panini Brilliance Basketball

$75.00

 $45.00

$51.95

$54.95

2012-13 Panini Contenders Basketball

$90.00

 $72.00

$79.95

$77.95

2012-13 Panini Crusade Basketball

$90.00

$57.00

$59.00

$62.95

2012-13 Panini Elite Basketball

$90.00

$70.00

$69.95

$67.95

2012-13 Panini Flawless Basketball

$950.00

-

$2,124.95

$2,250.00

2012-13 Panini Gold Standard Basketball

$150.00

$120.00

$119.95

$122.95

2012-13 Panini Intrigue Basketball

$112.50

$100.00

-

$99.95

2012-13 Panini Innovation Basketball

$75.00

$57.00

$57.95

$49.95

2012-13 Panini Immaculate Basketball

$300.00

 $480.00

$534.95

-

2012-13 Panini Limited Basketball

$75.00

$55.00

$54.95

$49.95

2012-13 Panini Marquee Basketball

$90.00

$60.00

$59.95

$59.95

2012-13 Panini Momentum Basketball

$150.00

 $88.00

$99.95

$85.95

2012-13 Panini Basketball

$54.00

$36.00

$38.95

$29.95

2012-13 Panini Past & Present Basketball

$75.00

 $49.00

$48.95

$49.95

2012-13 Panini Prestige Basketball

$72.00

-

$59.95

$63.95

2012-13 Panini Preferred Basketball

$150.00

$148.00

$149.95

$179.95

2012-13 Panini Select Basketball

$105.00

$98.00

$102.95

$115.95

2012-13 Panini Signature Basketball

$90.00

 $72.00

$78.95

$68.95

 

 

 

 

 

2012-13 HOCKEY

 

 

 

 

2012-13 Panini Anthology Hockey

$75.00

$62.00

$64.95

$67.95

2012-13 Panini Prime Hockey

$187.50

$190.00

$189.95

$209.95

 

 

 

 

 

2013-14 HOCKEY

 

 

 

 

2013-14 Panini Prizm Hockey

$75.00

$60.00

$70.95

$63.95

2013-14 Panini Score Hockey JUMBO

$75.00

$59.00

$64.95

$55.95

 

 

   
Sell Special Cards on COMC
Topps lost money on the now defunct eTopps. I actually thought it was a good idea at the time, but the expenses behind running an operation like that has got to be pricey. One solution to some of the costs is if Topps just had to print the cards and let someone else handle the shipping and secondary market.

It just so happens a company exists that could do all those things for Topps or any other card company. COMC.  Produce some special cards, create a company account on COMC and sell the cards. Once someone buys one of the cards, COMC then handles the rest. It beats the card company setting up their own eBay account (like Topps Vault) because they would then have to handle all the shipping, buyer questions, returns, etc.
COMC eTopps Card 
I guess it's not as easy as it would seem. COMC typically handles cards on consignment from collectors and dealers. Card companies creating cards and essentially "setting their own price" might rub some the wrong way. I can see that argument. But I'm also on the side that wonders why most new cards have to come out of a pack. Topps essentially set their own price on eTopps cards. Panini sold Orange Pylon Prizm Parallels on their own site via auction, but didn't just start the cards at $0.99 cents. You can see here what those Prizm Pylon cards sold for.

Another negative factor besides potential collector angst is backlash from the almighty wholesale distributors. These distributors faithfully buy these card companies products, even the crappy ones. Without the distribution network, card companies would become much more expensive to operate. In a word, it's called inventory. Topps might be able to scratch their back at the same time. Create a small set of cards that are serial numbered #/100. Sell half on COMC and use the rest as box toppers, wrapper redemptions, or some other promotion that aides the distributor.

Selling cards like this would get hot player cards on the market a little quicker. When Yasiel Puig got off this summer........... Topps had one card of his on the market. Ouch. It took some time for a set to be released that had his card in it. I hate the over dilution of cards being flooded onto the market as much as the next guy. But one insert card of Puig on the market when he pops is a joke. Topps could make A SMALL PRINT RUN of Puig cards on demand and get them into the market quick. It might even create buzz and hype for the next set to come out that will have more Puig cards.

Cold Call Group Breakers & Card Store Owners
I had a job managing about 50 nurses who I would find in-home health care work. Insurance companies and the Government would pay $28-250 an hour to take care of a patient and I would find a nurse who could hopefully work for $14.00 an hour.  It's a real lucrative business because insurance companies and the Government are willing to pay out the nose. 

One day my boss came and told me to call all 50 of my nurses to "check in" and see how things were going. I wanted to strangle him.  It would take a whole day or more to do that. Reluctantly I put in the calls and it was in fact a great idea. I was able to find out some of my nurses were willing to work more, which meant more money for me. I also found out some of my nurses needed common medical items, like gloves, which meant I could get out of the office and go deliver them to a clients house. Getting out of the office was like found money.

Call On Your Phone
So hey, card companies, give your group breakers and card store owners a call. Don't call them with the hopes of stealing them away from your distributors by signing them up to a direct account. That's the beauty of putting in a call to them. It's not even a direct sales call. You can just get their feel for what the market is for your stuff. Some group breakers have been opening a wide array of product for many years, they can give you insight into what works and what doesn't. And guess what? By reaching out to them I can guarantee some will feel greater loyalty toward your company and order more product. I'd be willing to bet on that. A card company putting in such calls would also be helping their main customer, the wholesale distributor. Group breakers and card store owners might even tell their distributor sales rep, "Oh hey, Joe Blow at Panini called me the other day. Super nice guy we talked a lot about their NFL cards. You know, tell you what, add a box of Prizm to my order."

Card companies will tell you they already do this. Problem is, they only involve the people who, in all honestly, would be buying their product regardless. Examples of this are the Topps Five Star Club, Panini's Hobby Roundtable and Upper Deck Diamond Dealers. I get setting some of your biggest collectors and dealers apart and give them special treatment. No problem with that. But give smaller business owners an opportunity to reach that next level by giving them a vote of confidence. It wouldn't take that much time. Lord knows there are not that many card shops still around. Many group breakers don't have business phone numbers but you can probably easily find their email address.

It's hard running your own small business. Especially when you are buying and re-selling product. To make any money in this industry you have to push heavy volume. That's a lot of work! Card companies should reach out to as many dealers as possible. Make them feel welcome. I don't think it would be that hard.
  
Create Arizona Fall League Sets
I am biased toward the Arizona Fall League. I look forward to going to Scottsdale each year to watch AFL games like a little kid waits for Christmas. The games are sparsely attended despite some great MLB prospects on display. In fact, most of the people who go to the games are after the autographs. Many AFL autograph seekers don't even stay and watch the game. They come early and don't just want one Kris Bryant autograph, they want him to sign all 10 of their cards. Most autograph seekers at the AFL are very well organized, with elaborate binders holding cards, and some have a supply of bats that could stock a little league team. Are some of them going to sell these autographs? Sure. But you'd be surprised how many are just there to keep every autograph they get. Believe me, I've tried to buy autographs from people there (because I know they are real) and they are unwilling to sell even the scrubby players.
Kris Bryant Chicago Cubs
If Topps created Arizona Fall League sets they would sell. People wouldn't want to buy just 1 set, they'd want to buy a ton of them because they are trying to get 15 Byron Buxton autographs. Sets like Topps Heritage Minor League may not appeal to many collectors, but autograph seekers love the base cards because they are perfect for getting autographs on. Plain Jane Bowman cards are also very good for autographs. Topps could easily produce some real simple prospect cards for the Arizona Fall League without hurting the value of their very important Bowman brands.  

There are some logistical problems with creating the sets. The rosters for the AFL gets released toward the end of August, with games starting around October 8-10. It gives Topps a month long window to create cards, but one of the cool things about the AFL is the prospects wear their affiliations Major League Uniform. The players also don a special New Era hat depending what team they are on (Scottsdale Scorpions for example). It's pretty awesome seeing Kris Bryant wear a Cubs uniform and it would be even more awesome on cardboard. One way around this is just create a card similar to Bowman or Topps Heritage Minor League using pictures already available. They wouldn't be as nice, but people would still buy them.

Another factor is that the rosters for the teams can change. Some players get hurt or their organization changes it's mind from August-October and they end up not playing during AFL games. Some pitchers don't get named to a roster until September. Guys get hurt and get replaced. It should be noted that Topps does advertise the Bowman brand at the Arizona Fall League. During each game the PA announcer does a commercial read about Bowman and there is a Bowman banner in some stadiums. Topps sponsored the 2013 Bowman Hitting Challenge, which was a real fun event, hopefully they do that again in future years. I was watching the hitting challenge with a noted sports card researcher, and we found it amazing that you couldn't buy any cards at the games. Seems like it would be an ideal place. There would be some challenges to creating Fall League sets, but I think there would be interest.

You Can't be Sued for Being a Jerk
By and large the hobby "media" is soft. What they do an effective job at is copy and pasting sell sheet information onto their websites.  That's not a knock, it's actually a valuable resource. There are many websites that provide pertinent information for collectors. Very few of them though want to rock the boat.  Look at the state of the sports card industry the last 20 years. Card store owners are going broke by the day. Companies like Panini and Topps churn out so much product that it dilutes the value of cards already on the market. Redemption cards..... that expire....... and sticker autographs fill boxes that cost $150+ each. Yet every set that comes out there are some that will sing it's praises. Sometimes it appears nobody is looking out for the long term health of this industry, only seeking that next quick check. I visit card shops around the U.S. that are going broke, but all I can find on the internet are eBay's most watched cards.  

Some members of the hobby media get free boxes from companies. Which I guess would make it all but impossible for the person getting a free pull on a slot machine to rip into a card company. That's understandable. It's essentially hush money. Websites and blogs do help pump dollars into the hobby community. In reality, sports card sites probably don't get enough credit for that. Companies like Upper Deck, Panini and Topps have a very weak presence on the internet so it serves their interest to have others pump their product without fear of anything bad slipping out.  Negative hobby stories are usually relegated to a forum or kept private.   

Sports TV rights have soared since the 1990's. Apparel makers like Nike and New Era rake in the money producing licensed jerseys, hats, t-shirts and other fan items. The value of sports franchises have skyrocketed the last 20 years. Player salaries have exploded. The sports card market has tanked. That's not good folks. The popularity of sports has risen since the 1990's, but the popularity of sports cards has been crippled. Wake the F up. Something isn't right. The business model behind selling these cards isn't right. It's flawed. Small business owners are going broke trying to sell these cards. Distributors milk group breakers and shop owners for every penny they can. So much crappy product comes out each week. The margin is SUPER SLIM on all this stuff. From Panini Flawless to Topps Series 1, the margin is a joke. The secondary price of 2012-13 Panini Flawless boxes went up after release in part because distributors held back inventory. When a product gets hot distributors squeeze dealers with initial pre-sale allocations and then step on their neck by jacking up the price after release when it's time to re-order.  It's hard to make money buying and re-selling in the card game. "Media members" get free boxes of cards while shop owners can't pay their bills.  Shhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Raffle Sports Cards Using Fantasy Sports
It was kind of funny to see a multitude of online group breakers raffle off items for sale. There are many reasons why running a raffle is illegal, but there are some easy ways around it. One way to essentially raffle off cards is conduct a fantasy sports challenge between the people who pay for a spot. The fantasy game can even be set up to last only one day. Most people think they are good at fantasy sports so I could see interest in it. There are many daily fantasy sports sites that will let you set up one day leagues yourself for free. You could probably even handle the scoring yourself by creating your own daily fantasy salaries or copying them off of one of the popular daily sites. Most daily fantasy sites will let you download their salaries into excel.

One downside is the instantaneous nature of the current random.org raffle system. It's quick and easy to get 10 people to pay and then run a raffle. By running a fantasy sports game, you have to get these people to fill out a lineup and wait for the games to complete. If you do group breaks it takes a lot of time to sort, pack and ship certain products. Running fantasy sports raffles on the side might just add too much work to the equation.
  
 
Ryan T. @SportsCardNews
42 N. Sutter Street
Suite 313
Stockton, CA 95202