The Sports Card Industry: How Did it Get to Be Where it is Today?

The Sports Card Industry: How Did it Get to Be Where it is Today?

Travis Cellucci

After school in 2015, your mom comes to pick up you and your friend from school to go to Target and look for some new toys and gadgets. When you arrive, you see the sports card wall; boxes and packs of NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL cards line the shelves up and down. You and your friend decide to get one box each and open them together when you get home. Those were the glory days, and now unfortunately those days are gone. 

In March of 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic struck America and people were forced to stay home. Many lost their jobs, and many were struggling to find things to do from home. Fast forward to April, the 2020 NFL draft had occurred and fans were getting excited about the new rookies that would be playing for their teams the following year. Around this time, TikTok was also gaining a lot of popularity amongst young teenagers and was being used for hours on end daily. People wanting to make money and have a new hobby, the hype of NFL rookies, and TikTok, all contributed to the rapid growth of the sports card industry. 

Once some COVID restrictions were lifted, people were able to go to retail stores like Target or Walmart and buy packs of cards and have a chance of pulling an autograph of their favorite player or even a game used jersey card. Once more, people began getting into the hobby, TikTok accounts were being made for the sole purpose of showing these cards. People would run to the store, bring it home and take a video of them opening the packs. TikTok had a large variety of people with a lot of different interests and their app is able to pinpoint these people to show them what they would like to see. 

Now a lot of people were seeing these pack openings and wanted to join into the hobby. Cards were becoming harder to find now and prices of these cards were rising. With boxes of cards becoming harder to find people saw a chance to make money. If they were able to find these boxes for $20 at retail stores they could then resell for a profit. Profit margins depended on the brand of card that was bought but regardless there was real money to be made. More and more people wanted cards, and wanted money and this is what ultimately drove the market out of the water. 

Today, it is almost impossible to find any brand of cards at retail stores. Most people are now buying cards off the resale market where they are tripled the price of retail. The reason these have become so expensive is because single cards are also becoming very expensive. If you can pull a Justin Herbert autograph card (who is the Chargers rookie quarterback and 2020 offensive rookie of the year), you could be $1,000 richer. The risk in buying these boxes is that you could lose a lot of money or make a lot of money. 

Unfortunately for kids now, they can’t just go to a store and decide to get a box, they have to get very lucky or pay triple the cost. Resellers are ruining the hobby for a lot of people and it’s sad to see where the hobby has gotten too today. Hopefully one day the market will lower and prices will go down, and people of all ages will be able to enjoy the hobby again.