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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Neighborhood Sports Card Store – Where have you gone?

Card Shops offer the customer to physically touch and feel a lot of the new cards. They serve a different niche of the hobby than Dean's Cards, as their clientele is mainly kids (and their fathers) who collect the new sports or fantasy cards. Unlike Dean's Cards, vintage cards are not their specialty.

For every collector of the vintage sports cards, there are probably a hundred new card collectors. Most of the new card collectors prefer the current players that they recognize and can still see play at the ballparks. Most card shops keep a few vintage baseball cards in the display case for show, but it is impossible for a retail card store to do enough traffic to sell more than a few vintage baseball cards.

The traditional “strip mall” card shop is quickly disappearing. Only a fraction of the stores remain that were in existence twenty years ago, most vintage card trading is now done online. It is just so much easier and efficient. The traditional sports card store started appearing in the 1980's and by the early 1990's the number peaked at approximately 5000 stores nationwide. Today, there are less than 500 of these stores left and many more are closing every year.

Many of the surviving card store owners are now focusing on recent sports cards or the fantasy game cards and the kids that play them. They sponsor tournaments and get new customers that way.

This 21st Century tend is the same thing that is happening to music stores and used-book stores. Although there are several trends responsible for the decline in the number of sports card stores, there is no doubt that the ease, efficiency and overall large selection of cards that are available online has attracted their customers and also brought many new collectors back into the hobby. The trend is continuing. Overall eCommerce sales are doubling every three years. I would assume that this trend holds for baseball cards. Every week we get dozens of new customers who have never bought online before.

I firmly believe that the internet has provided a huge boost to the card collection hobby – especially the harder to find vintage cards. It is just so much easier and efficient to purchase cards from an e-store. This makes the hobby more fun and accessible.

If you are looking to sell your cards, please contact Dean