Sports card collecting is making a huge comeback

It’s a popular, but expensive hobby.

Kyle Curtis
Kicker

Steven Healey, the owner of Card Break NL, says COVID-19 renewed an interest in the sports card collecting hobby. He opened his store, which is located in Mount Pearl, in 2016. Kyle Curtis/Kicker News

Sports card collecting has been riding the bench since the 90s, but now is back on the field and once again an MVP for those who sell sports memorabilia.

Hockey and basketball are the most popular cards to collect in Canada. Collectors can buy individual cards from someone online or can buy packs or boxes in bid to find valuable cards.

The hobby boxes and packs are at an all-time high price. A 2019-2020 basketball hobby box usually contains 20 packs, with four cards per pack and one guaranteed autographed card. A box of basketball cards ranges from $400 to $900. A hockey hobby box is valued at approximately $200. It contains 20 packs, five cards per pack, and two autographed cards.

If a box contains a top draft pick, then it could be worth thousands of dollars. 

Sports card collecting has become an investment for some collectors. A card found in a pack is referred to as being pulled. If someone buys or pulls a rookie card they can hold on to it and if that player becomes a star in the league, the value will dramatically increase.

Steven Healey, the owner of Card Break NL in Mount Pearl, opened his store back in 2016. He says it was perfect timing to open a trading card store because the hobby was just starting to pick up again.

“The cards are selling for so much money that the boxes that are producing them have to follow suit,” said Healey about the ballooning cost of the boxes.

Healey started to do “card breaks” on his Facebook group, CardBreakNL. It gives people a chance to buy a numbered slot of a specific team or one chosen at random. Whatever cards are pulled from that specific team, that person gets those cards. To date, he has done 2,100 of these events.

Participating in these breaks, says Healey, gives people a chance at pulling cards from expensive boxes for only $40 to $50.

“On the investment side of it, if you go into a hole with your spending, it only takes one good card pull and you can be way up on the money you make from [selling] the cards.”

Most collectors send their cards to Professional Sports Authenticators. It is an authentication and grading service that will determine the condition of the card. If the card comes back graded a 10 by the firm, the card’s value can double or triple. The service, however, is not free and can cost $15 to $250.

“You got Connor McDavid. You got Crosby. You got Zion and all the new guys coming up. So people think that is going to be the next record-setting card,” said Healey. “So nobody wants to miss out on an opportunity like that.”

“We [pulled] a Connor McDavid card a couple of years ago. We opened it during a break so we were live on video and the guy hit the card and before the stream ended the guy had sold it for $32,000.”

Gavin Roche, a business student at Memorial University, says he got into the hobby over the past year. He says that opening boxes or packs are a fun way to take a break from his day-to-day life.

“On the investment side of it, if you go into a hole with your spending, it only takes one good card pull and you can be way up on the money you make from [selling] the cards,” said Roche.

When you finally hit that big pull, says Roche, there is no better feeling in the world. He thinks that once you get into the hobby it’s so addicting, it’s hard to stop.

“Recently I have been paying more attention to it,” said Roche. “Seeing the value of these rookie cards and other special cards I figured I would get into opening packs.”

Currently, he has about 300 cards in his collection. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Healey says the business was booming because people had nothing else to do and looked forward to the breaks every night. He says it kept sports alive.

“We [pulled] a Connor McDavid card a couple of years ago,” said Healey. “We opened it during a break so we were live on video and the guy hit the card and before the stream ended the guy had sold it for $32,000.”

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