Christmas At The Card Shop

As I mentioned before, I attended a Christmas party on Saturday night at my local sports card shop – Sports Zone Memorabilia.  Everyone who was invited got a gift and a ticket for a door prize.  My gift was 13 packs and I was lucky to win a prize which was a ton a base cards from 2005/2006 Upper Deck Ice Hockey.  I still can’t believe I was able to pull a “Cadillac” Williams autograph #’ed/5 from one of my packs.

Sports Zone Memorabilia is by far the best card shop I’ve ever seen.  This is how a shop should be run within The Hobby today.  If your ever in Central, PA be sure to stop in.

Photobucket

Presents!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Photobucket

Photobucket

Jason of Sports Zone Memorabilia handing out all the gifts

Photobucket

Holding my new “Cadillac”

Advertisements

Box Breaks From The Card Shop

This morning I made my way over to one of my local card shops.  I decided to sell my ’09 UD Ultimate Collection Football – Ultimate Eight Signature card to the owner in exchange for some cash and unopened products.  Along with the cash, I picked up another box of ’09 UD Ultimate Collection Football and a box of 2010 Topps National Chicle Baseball.  I really like the design of National Chicle Baseball.  It was a very fun afternoon of pack ripping 🙂  Let me know if you need anything.  Maybe we can work out a trade.  Thanks for watching!!

Photobucket

This has to be the most bad-ass image of Honus Wagner.  I wouldn’t want to run into him on the field.

Interview with Chris Justice of The Hobby Box & CardsInfinity.com

Photobucket
Having almost 8,000 subscribers and 8.5 million total upload video views, makes Chris Justice one of the most popular video box breakers on YouTube.  Chris owns and operates The Hobby Box which is a sports card shop located in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Chris was nice enough to take some time and answer a few questions I had about his shop, YouTube, and The Hobby.  Be sure to check out his channel and site, CardsInfinity.com.
  • What made you want to open The Hobby Box?
I have collected since I was a teen and I have always enjoyed sports and sports cards.  In the early 90’s I went to college and graduated with a BS in Information Systems.  I enjoyed computers, but I could not see myself working on one all day long, day in and day out (funny I do that now in this hobby :)).  So during and after college I worked as a bartender for 8 years.  I really enjoyed talking with customers and watching sports while working :).  Around 2004 a friend of mine showed me what the card companies were doing with sports cards and I thought it was the coolest thing.  They were embedding jerseys in cards as well as having them autographed.  Well my interest was struck, so I got back into collecting pretty heavily.  There was only one shop in my town and the guy charged really ridiculous prices for his hobby boxes.  So since I enjoyed sports and sports cards I decided to open my own store and that is how The Hobby Box got started.
  • How important is YouTube to your business?  Do you think it’s possible for a hobby shop to survive without having a presence on the internet?

Let me explain how I got started on YouTube.   I started my store in April 2006.   Customers would come in and break boxes and it was really exciting to see what each box produced and their reaction to the cards they pulled.  At that time the only place to really share your break was on a card forum.  You would sit in front of your computer and type out what you got and post a scan.  That is really fun in itself, but you don’t get the persons reaction to the break.  I was selling a shirt that I had made out of 550+ jersey cards on eBay. The winner of that shirt was Dr. WaxBattle.  He has a website called The BackStop.net.  I checked out his website and noticed that he was taping customers breaking boxes.  I thought that was the coolest thing ever.  Not only do you get the first look, but you get to see the reaction of the person opening the box.  Then I searched YouTube to see if others were doing it and there were only about four.  Joe Holman was breaking a blaster box here and there, Backstop was doing it, Rip & Pull, and a guy by the name of KoolJazz1966.  I really loved all their breaks, but KoolJazz stood out the most and here is why.  This guy just seemed so into sports cards and I loved his reaction.  Just a down to earth guy that was not in it for the “BIG MONEY” pull, but the actual love of opening boxes.  “Box Break Thursday” he called his breaks, and he would tape the breaks for the guys on TCC website (Trading Card Central).

As much as I loved his reactions and admired The BackStop, Rip & Pull and Joe for starting the whole thing, there was something missing.  The missing part was they were not allowing the viewer to live vicariously through the break.  Plus they were showing way too many base which can make a break rather long and boring.  I thought I would start taping my customers opening boxes in the vicarious position and we would also breeze through the base cards. This way people can see what the major hits are, get the reactions, and at the same time live vicariously through the break.  So that is what I did and that is basically how I got on YouTube.  Now I didn’t get on YouTube to make money.  That was not even on my mind.  I did all the videos specifically for the love of the hobby and to have fun with it.  I started selling boxes on the internet about 7 months later when people kept asking me if I would sell them a box.  I was like sure, and if you like I can break it here for you and upload the video and mail the cards.  A lot of people liked the idea and that is how it all got started.

So in a nutshell, YouTube is very important to me.  It brings together a community of people that, when on the internet, feel like they are all at the card shop together.  It is a place where people can share cards they have pulled with others and at the same time create good friendships.

Yes, I think Hobby Stores can survive without the internet.  There are a lot of shops doing that very thing right now.  It is harder without the internet but it can be done.  I do a good portion of my sales through the internet now and I do appreciate all the business people give me.

  • What are some things you would like to see the manufacturers do differently to make The Hobby more enjoyable?

They need to send me a case of the new product a week before it releases so I can do a FREE group break for people :), just kidding.  Although that would be fun!!  Let me defend card companies for a second.  People always give card companies a hard time.  I don’t think they realize what a tight rope these card companies have to walk.  They have to produce a product with big names that everyone wants without flooding the market with big names.  For example, everyone wants a Michael Jordan autographed card.   Upper Deck could put one in every other box and guess what?  Pulling a Michael Jordan card has lost all of its luster and excitement.  Not to mention its monetary value.

But with that said, I think ALL card companies should always honor redemption cards PERIOD.  There is no reason what so ever that they should not do this.  The card should have been in the set before the product was released.  It is not the consumer’s fault that it wasn’t.  Sure the card companies would need a pretty big filing system, but if the card was made it should be filed away in the “Redemption Room” and should always be there until that card is redeemed.  If the card was never made, then they should give you equal value of the card at the time of it being pulled.  If they did it this way you can bet there would be a lot less redemptions, because card companies would get sick of storing all the cards when they are made.

It is very frustrating for a person to open a  box and pull a Cal Ripken/Derek Jeter Dual autograph #d to 5 and it be expired.  That one change would make the hobby a lot more fun and enjoyable.

  • Of all the products you have opened, which have been your favorite and least favorite?  Why?

Favorite is Exquisite and the reason is simple… it is so DAMN expensive that it makes you nervous to open it.  Anything that can get your heart going is exciting and Exquisite does that.

  • Which future product release are you looking forward to the most?

Not sure if they are doing it, but if they are, I am really looking forward to National Treasures Basketball.  I think it will be a very exciting product loaded with really nice looking cards.

  • What is the most valuable card pulled from your shop?

That depends on your definition of value.  The weirdest card I have seen pulled was a Neanderthal flint knife.   It was a redemption, but Jerry, the guy who pulled it, sent me a scan when he got it back. Very unique card.  The coolest looking card was pulled just the other week and that was a Felix Hernandez WBC full size logo patch.  As far as actual sell value goes, I pulled a Tiger Woods 2001 Sp Authentic GOLD version red shirt swatch #d/25.  I sold the card for $1,200 BIN, but I saw another one surface again during Tiger’s big run in 2007 or 2008 and it was bid up to $3,600 but didn’t meet reserve. I’m not sure what it would sell for now, but that is the most expensive card I have ever pulled.  I have had several $1,000+ cards pulled from my store though.  Always fun to pull a big valued card, but I am just as happy when someone pulls the person they collect and are looking for.

Photobucket

According to Upper Deck, there are only 9 of these Neanderthal Flint Knife relics.

  • What do you have in your personal collection, and what are some of your best pieces?

I really collect rookie autographs.  I have a lot of those.  My biggest cards are probably my Solomon Jones collection :).  I have a few of his Exquisite 1/1’s, Superfractors from Finest and Chrome rookie autographs.  I have quite a few MJD cards as well.  Terrence Williams is my new player to collect.

’67 Topps Pete Rose On Pawn Stars

One of my favorite T.V. shows to watch is Pawn Stars, which you can find on the History Channel, Monday nights at 10:00 p.m.  I find it really entertaining and educational.  Last week a guy walked into the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop and tried to sell five Pete Rose 1967 Topps baseball cards.  As soon as I saw these things I knew they weren’t real.  The guy who brought them in was pretty upset when he couldn’t sell them.  After this show aired last week, it sparked some interesting conversations over on FCB and other sports card forums.

Photobucket

Interview with Dan Fox of Fox Sports Cards

Photobucket

On YouTube, there are over 50,000 videos of collectors opening packs and boxes from all over the world.  Watching other people rip open a product can really help you decide if it might be right for you.  One of the most popular channels collectors subscribe to is FoxSportsCards, which is a card shop located in Marion, IL.  Recently, I interviewed Dan Fox of Fox Sports Cards to learn more about the store, views on the hobby, and his collection.

  • Can you tell me the history of Fox Sports Cards? When did it open & what inspired you to open a card shop?

Fox Sports Cards opened in Dec. 2006.  It was opened to address the fact that Marion had no Sports Card shop.  There was only one small store in all of southern Illinois, and it was not doing a lot of the things I felt collectors were looking for.

  • What are some of your best selling items?

Our best selling items would be new wax, single cards, vintage and memorabilia.  The wax sells pretty evenly across all price points.  We do sell a lot of high end wax, but we also sell a bunch of med-level and lower-end wax as well.  Baseball sells the most here in Cardinals country.  Football is next, then basketball products, and recently we began selling hockey, and it has been really selling well.

  • What type of events take place at your store?

We host bi-monthly Trade Nights at our store every month.  We try to host two or more autograph signings a year here at the store.  Our most recent signing was New York Giants star running back Brandon Jacobs.  We strive to have some Cardinal players every year as well as athletes from other sports. To be honest, I feel these signings are some of the most important things our store can do.  They provide our young collectors a lifelong experience and memory of meeting some of their favorite stars in their home town.

  • In your opinion, what is the state of the hobby right now?

I feel the hobby is contracting a bit right now due to several factors.  First, I put the blame directly on the stores and store owners.  Sadly, many of the people who own card stores today are not only NOT promoting their store, they are NOT promoting the hobby at all.  In today’s multi-media, tech-savvy world, if we don’t provide you some reasons to visit our stores a couple times a week, then why would you?  I see too many owners bemoaning the state of the hobby, while they continue to do NOTHING to change its’ course.  Our store and its’ business continue to expand and grow at a very strong rate.  We promote, continue to change/evolve, bring in new products and try new/different promotions to give our customers many good reasons to visit us often.  I also would put some blame on the big three manufacturers for the lack of support for brick and mortar accounts.  Donruss, Topps, and Upper Deck have all turned a blind eye to many of the distribution problems plaguing the hobby.  They have allowed wholesalers to start selling their products directly to consumers at pricing and at or below direct dealer account prices.  These artificially low prices give the consumers the perception that the product isn’t worth the suggested retail price.  It also allows pack searchers and the like to blend in online, and sell adulterated boxes on eBay and through websites looking just like every other online seller.  Last time I checked, these online sellers have NEVER hosted a Trade Night, and NEVER brought any new kids into the hobby. They provide NO SERVICE at all to the hobby.  Once they put the majority of card stores out of business, Wal-Mart and Target will be your alternative, and good luck with that.

  • With all the advances in technology, do you find it difficult for kids to get involved with collecting?

I feel its still very easy to get kids interested in card collecting.  In many ways, that hasn’t changed since I started collecting in 1968, cards are cool.  Its still a rush to pull your favorite player out of a pack.  The fact that there are now autographs, pieces of jersey, stamps, coins, and all sorts of other quirky cool things built into cards today makes it even easier than it was in 1968 to spark an interest.  Stores should have a presence on the web, you don’t have to sell, but at least be online, do some YouTube, Facebook, etc… Show the younger collectors that you will make an effort to market to their segment.  Too many stores consider these steps to NOT be worth the time and trouble.  Along these lines, I would love to see Topps, Upper Deck, and Donruss run marketing directed more at today’s marketplace.  Think of how many collectors would get back into card collecting of Topps ran a 1 minute spot showing a collector opening a box of Triple Threads Baseball, or UD showing someone opening Premier Baseball, 60 seconds of pure marketing genius.

  • Do you have a personal collection? If so, what is your favorite piece?

I do still collect.  My favorite pieces are my 1962 Topps Tarkenton rookie, 1955 Bowman Willie Mays, Smoky Joe Wood cut autograph,  Adrian Peterson rookie auto, and an autographed card from Pete Pihos.

Photobucket

Photobucket

  • What has been your favorite box of cards that you have opened?

My favorite box of cards to open is either Premier baseball (or football or basketball), Triple Threads baseball (or football, or basketball).

  • What are some of the biggest pulls that customers have received?

We’ve had a couple Pujols autos pulled, a Sandy Koufax auto, some Honus Wagner relics in Topps Sterling, Michael Jordan auto out of Black, Jordan auto out of Premier, and a Jordan/Magic/Bird/Irving quad auto pulled in Black as well.

I would like to thank Mr. Fox for taking the time to answer my questions.  If your ever passing through Marion, IL be sure to stop by Fox Sports Cards.

A Good Sign

Yesturday when I visited one of my local card shops, I saw a good sign.  There are a lot of people that think the bad economy is having a big hit on the hobby, but when I walked in that door yesturday it sure didn’t look like the case to me.  The cash register up by the front door is on a table that is pretty high, and the tape reached all the way to the floor.  I asked the owner how business was going?  He replied that they are selling a ton of high-end products by the box such as 2008 Bowman Sterling football.  This bad economy doesn’t seem to be hurting the card collectors in my neighborhood.  Its great to see a card shop that has been in business for over 30 years have a register tape reach all the way to the floor, especially when its full of expensive products.  A recent report on The Cardboard Connection stated that Topps and Upper Deck both have sold out of some of their products from last year.  I’m thinking that sports card collecting provides an escape for some people from the world’s problems.  For those people that think our hobby is in the crapper, I respectfully disagree.  I think our hobby is doing good, and I can’t wait to see what surprises come next.

Photobucket

PA Card Shop Accused of Selling Fake Memorabilia

Source- PennLive.com

David Herrell said the sheer volume of items in Roger Hooper’s memorabilia inventory gave him a sense of confidence.

Herrell said he saw no reason to doubt the authenticity of the baseball autographed by home run hitters Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle. The same went for the supposedly unopened wax packs of sports cards that were among the thousands of dollars in items he said he bought from Hooper, a West Shore dealer, in 2006.

“He had so much,” said Herrell, 33, a student at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. “It was such a large quantity of stuff. I felt it couldn’t be bad.”

Authorities claim that some items Hooper sold Herrell were fake and others, including the wax packs — their name comes from the 1970s and ’80s, when cards and a stick of bubble gum were wrapped in wax-paper packages — showed signs of tampering.

The Cumberland County district attorney’s office has charged Hooper, 47, of Lower Allen Twp., with deceptive business practices. It has caused a stir in the collecting community, where fraud is a constant fear.

Authorities also are contacting past customers of Hooper. People with concerns about their items can contact county Detective Sgt. Earl Bock at 717-240-7764.

In court papers, Bock said hundreds of dubious items that were sold for more than $60,000 have been identified.

Hooper said the charges are “totally false” and that he never knowingly sold bogus collectibles or tampered with any memorabilia. The charges, he said, involve only a few of the millions of collectibles of all types packed into the warehouse at his Thompson Lane home.

“The whole thing comes down to somebody filled [prosecutors’] heads with a lot of hogwash and they acted on it,” Hooper said. “I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.”

He vowed to fight the charges at a preliminary hearing before District Judge Charles Clement next month. But he said the allegations have ruined his reputation and imperiled the collectibles and auction business he built over 30 years.

Corky Goldstein, Hooper’s lawyer, said his client shouldn’t have been arrested. No auctioneer can vouch for every item sold, Goldstein said, and Hooper never marketed any items deceptively.

“At most, this is a civil matter,” Goldstein said. “That’s where it belongs, in the civil courts.”

Authorities based the criminal charges, including counts of theft by deception and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, on claims by Herrell and Ned Kerstetter of Carlisle, who listed items for Hooper on the eBay Internet auction site.

Kerstetter, who didn’t return a call for comment for this story, went to the district attorney in August 2007, claiming Hooper defrauded him, Bock said. Kerstetter also filed a lawsuit against Hooper in county court that hasn’t been resolved.

Bock said Kerstetter claimed that in 2005 he agreed to list items for Hooper under Kerstetter’s name on eBay in return for a commission on each sale. Later, as Kerstetter got busier with his computer sales and service firm, an associate of Hooper’s did the listing under Kerstetter’s name, the detective said.

Hooper used Kerstetter, an acquaintance, as the seller because Hooper had been banned from eBay for “shaky dealings,” Bock stated in court papers.

The detective said Kerstetter soon began receiving complaints from buyers that items were not as advertised. Some buyers complained that wax packs of sports cards, which have collectible value only if they remain unopened, had obviously been opened and resealed, Bock said.

“The cards in Hooper’s packs had fingerprints on them. They were supposed to be untouched by human hands,” Senior Assistant District Attorney Matthew Smith said. “Understandably, people started screaming foul.”

Kerstetter began receiving threats along with complaints when Hooper refused to give angry customers refunds, Bock said. Kerstetter, worried about his online selling reputation, used about $60,000 of his own money to reimburse them, Bock said.

Hooper said Kerstetter had approached him about listing items because Kerstetter wanted to make money. Hooper said he had been barred from listing items on eBay, but the company never told him why.

EBay spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe said her firm doesn’t discuss issues or investigations regarding customers, but it does cooperate with law enforcement in investigating reports of fraud.

Hooper said he addressed most buyer complaints relating to the listings on Kerstetter’s site and made refunds. But he refused requests by Kerstetter to satisfy buyers who complained after the return period, which usually lasted 30 days.

“I fulfilled all of my obligations with Ned,” he said.

Herrell’s accusations involve items he bought from Hooper in an April 2006 auction, Bock said.

When Herrell tried to sell 14 unopened wax packs of 1971 Topps football cards he had bought, an expert at a New York collectibles firm told Herrell the cards showed signs of tampering, the detective said.

When Herrell complained to Hooper, Hooper disputed the expert’s finding and advised him to “just list the stuff on eBay,” Bock said.

Two other experts told Herrell a baseball he’d bought from Hooper that supposedly was signed by Mantle and Williams was a forgery, Bock said. He added that Hooper had given Kerstetter a similar ball.

Hooper said the items Herrell bought were among more than a thousand lots sold at the auction Herrell attended. All the items were open for public inspection and for evaluation by experts before the sale, Hooper said. He said it was clearly stated in the auction terms that he wasn’t guaranteeing authenticity for many items.

Authorities raided Hooper’s warehouse in May after seeing another online listing for an auction he was to hold that month. Scores of items, from sports collectibles to coins, were seized, court documents stated.

Hooper said he didn’t know of the criminal investigation until police appeared May 22, handcuffed him and executed a search warrant.

The Hooper case has caused considerable talk on at least one online chat room for collectors and auctioneers.

Experts said the collectibles business is innately risky.

Fraud, “is everywhere,” said Jim Spence of James Spence Authentication of Parsippany, N.J., an autograph-verification company.

“The biggest victims are the new collectors,” said David Cordier, owner of Cordier Antiques & Fine Art of Camp Hill and a columnist for The Patriot-News. “When you’re buying at auction, there is risk involved. That’s the sad part, because the new collectors will keep the business alive.”

Herrell, a collector for about 20 years, said he’s still “dabbling” in the market.

“You can’t be too careful,” he said. “You need to know who you’re dealing with.”