Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's been a while since my last post but I thought it would be a good time write a quick note and let everyone know SandlotCards is still out there and that 2012 has been our best year in the three years we've been in business. Thanks to everyone who has visited our site and made our year a success. We had our best year in terms of number of orders and the number of repeat customers.

One of the fun things about running an online card store is reading the emails you receive from customers. We've heard from many people who were able to finish sets this year, from parents with kids who were just starting out in the hobby, and from old timers who were just getting back into the hobby for fun. Keep the emails coming! We really do enjoy hearing from everyone.

As we look ahead to 2013, we'll continue to add the current year's cards to our inventory but we also plan to make a big push to fill the holes in our inventory from the 1970's and 1980's sets. So check back often, you never know when that card you need to complete an old set will be added. Thanks again and we wish everyone a Happy and Healthy 2013!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

One of Them Good Problems

Time to give this blog a heartbeat.  One of the topics I wanted to shed some light on was what it's like to run an online card store.  I'll give a quick update here then move on to another topic.

I'm into the third year of running my online store,, and I'm enjoying it.  I have to admit that it takes a lot of work.  Early on, after the initial start up phase, it was pretty simple.   I just had to add cards to my inventory and wait for orders which were few and far between.  Now that Sandlot Cards is well into it's third year we're starting to get a lot of orders and we have to balance that with adding cards to inventory.

I don't know if any of you are fans of the HBO series 'The Wire' but there is a great line by Marlo where he says, "That's one of them good problems."  So that's how I look at it, I'm having fun filling all the orders coming in for both new and returning clients.  Am I struggling to add new stuff quickly? Yea, but that's one of them good problems!

Now on to the topic I wanted to write about......Minis!  I've always said I will not be a collector while I run Sandlot Cards. The reason why is that I do not want to keep cards in my personal collection that customers may want to purchase.  I caved a little and decided I would buy some lower end tobacco cards because I do not plan to sell these online.

I love the tobacco cards because they are over 100 years old and bring you back to the early days of baseball.  I also love them because they are different.  They are not the size and shape of the normal cards we are used to.  They are mini!

And because of that I'm starting to like all the other mini cards I'm seeing.

Like this one from last years's Topps Kimball Champions insert set.....

And this one from Topps 2012 insert set of 1987 mini replicas.

They remind me of the old tobacco cards like this one I recently picked up at a card show....

I just think these are all cool.  I have a feeling that some day I'm going to start building a collection of modern mini cards.  Of course I'd have to throw in the 1975 mini's as well, what mini collection would be complete without those? Heck, I may even start looking at oddball cards.

You know what's great about collecting?  There is no right or wrong way to do it!  Pick something you enjoy and run with it. Someday I'm going to get back into collecting full time but while I'm having fun running my site I'll have to wait........until then I'll settle for a tobacco card now and then, after all, they are the original minis.  

Run my card store or collect full time?  That's one of them good problems.......

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ever Meet Anyone Who Was in a Game Show?

Back when I was in elementary school, I remember reading one of those fluff pieces in our local newspaper where the columnist asks a bunch of Andy Rooney type questions. One of those questions was, 'Have you ever met anyone who was in a game show?'

I'm not sure why this question stood out in my mind but back in the day when cable t.v. wasn't so common I guess it was odd to meet someone who participated in a game show. I finally met a substitute teacher in high school who said she was on the $20,000 Pyramid and got robbed of the grand prize because the celebrity guest gave an invalid clue. Pretty cool story I guess and at the time I thought it was cool to be able to finally answer 'Yes' to that nagging question.

How does all this relate to baseball cards?

Well, I always felt like you could write a fluff piece related to the recent Topps Give Away and Heritage Buyback programs. The obvious question would be, 'Did you ever meet anyone who got something really cool in one of these promotions?'

I've read through many forum posts and watched a few YouTube box breaks yet I never heard about anything really cool from these particular contests.

That was until I broke a case of 2012 Topps Heritage this week. Take a look at this little beauty.....

I'm sure there are a lot of cool hits out there but when I think about the top tier I'm thinking about Mantle, Mays, and Aaron so I was pretty excited about this one. I guess every dog has his day. Now if Topps would only refrain from putting that gold stamp on the buyback cards!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve decided to start collecting tobacco cards for my personal collection. If you’ve ever thought about buying a tobacco card (or two) but didn’t know where to begin don’t worry about it, just find a cheap one and dive in.

What? Those cards can’t be cheap! Well, relatively speaking they can be. I happened to pick this one up yesterday for only $15.

This card is a bargain for a card that is over 100 years old and not mass produced like the modern cards of today.

Sure it’s got rounded corners and creases but that gives it character! It’s fun to look up this player I never heard of, George Mullin, and find out what he did during his career. I didn't realize he pitched the Tigers first no-hitter and has the second most wins for the Tigers. I also think it’s fun to ponder what this card has been through during it’s life.

Think about it…..

After the card was produced between 1907–1911, here’s what happened and what the card might have went through…..

In the 1910’s

The Titanic sailed (and sank) in 1912, there were only 46 states in the United States, and World War I also broke out. Perhaps some young boy looked at this card each evening as a way to escape from the realities of his country being at war.

In the 1920’s

Television was invented! Maybe the same kid is a bit older now and has put the card away in a box to be forgotten while he is mesmerized by the new invention of television.

In the 1930’s

Prohibition is in full swing. Maybe this card gets passed down to a nephew to keep him occupied while the adults hang out in the basement having a drink or two.

In the 1940’s

World War II is at its peak. This card could be helping another boy escape from the realities of his country or family members being involved in a war.

In the 1950’s

Elvis hits the scene! Does the card getting tucked away again while some teenage boy decides cards aren’t cool and he needs to work on his dance moves to impress the girls at the soda shop?

In the 1960’s & 1970’s

Hmmmmm…bad fashion, lots of drugs, disco music…..many of the young adults in our country were lost during this time so who knows where this card was…..

In the 1980’s & 1990’s

The boom years of baseball cards!!! I bet this card was in a dealer case at a show selling for 4 times its current price.....right next to the Mark McGwire rookie cards selling for $125!


During this decade, I guess this card floated around from dealer to dealer for 10 years as the card market tries to find it’s footing.....long forgotten while a new generation of collectors focus on game used and autographed cards.

Now the card has found a good home in my collection and I'll enjoy it for more reasons than the fact it's a Tigers card.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Power of Social Media

If you've been paying attention to the news lately you've heard a lot about companies making announcements about changes they plan to make to their business. In most cases they are adding fees or charging customers more for less service. What we've also seen recently is that if enough customers speak out against these changes companies may be forced to go back on their plans.

Social media, of course, has provided a great outlet for the little guy to speak their minds. We saw this when Netflix planned to change their pricing structure or when the big banks planned to charge clients a monthly fee to use their debit cards.

Blogs are a great outlet for speaking your mind. If you haven't toyed around on Twitter, it's another great place to speak up, even Facebook can be an outlet. I happened to be checking out Twitter this morning and found this interesting link to Topps Facebook page.

Check out all the feedback on the post!

I'll leave my opinion out of this but I think it will be interesting to see if Topps alters their plan on this one.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Hardest Part of Running My Card Store

I always loved collecting baseball cards as a kid. Like most kids, I hit that age around junior high school or high school where girls and being cool became more important than collecting.

I got back into collecting during my college years back in the mid to late 1980’s. I kept collecting on and off throughout the years but never had more fun than when my youngest son got into the hobby a few years back. That’s when I decided I wanted to start my online card store.

One of the hardest things about running my store is trying to limit what I collect. After all, I don’t want to compete with my clients. I’ve been pretty disciplined at this but I have to admit, the more cards I look at the more I want to collect.

I’ve been collecting vintage Tigers cards from Topps my whole life but I really don’t have many holes left in that collection So I’ve been trying to figure out something I can collect without siphoning from the purchases I make for my business.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a card I purchased for around $10 back when I was in high school. I wasn’t really collecting at the time but I remember I was at our local mall one day and they were running a card show. $10 was a lot of money back then but I remember looking at this card and thinking how cool it was……

Yep, it was my first (and only) tobacco card.

I probably looked at it quite a bit after I bought it but at some point I tucked it into a shoebox (literally) and went on with life.

A few weeks back I stumbled onto the card again and I got this idea that tobacco cards might be the perfect thing for me to collect. I’m not talking about the Christy Mathewson or Ty Cobb cards, I don’t have anywhere near the budget needed to collect those type of cards. I’m talking about the worn out or unknown player cards that have survived the years. .

So, why tobacco cards?

Well, they won’t compete with what I currently sell, they are old and historic, they are interesting, and…..well… cool are they!?!? Maybe I can only afford one (or two) when I go to a card show but I think it will be fun to find an old card and do a little research on a truly old time player.

Here’s my first purchase, made this weekend at a local card show……..

I have no idea about the manufacturer or who is on the card but I think it’s a cool. I’ll have to do a little research on the card and players and turn it into another blog entry.

I guess once you’re a collector you’re always a collector!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Don't Leave!

I like to check out the different collecting forums on occasion. There are a lot of knowledgeable collectors posting interesting and helpful topics on these boards.

Unfortunately, one of the common posts I see is about someone leaving the hobby. Often, the collector states they are tired of the high costs of cards or they are tired of trying to keep up with the ever expanding product lines.

I’m not knocking anyone’s approach to collecting. I love reading about all the different ways people collect; whether it be set building, massive player collections, or cards that feature odd themes like mustaches or serial numbers. It’s all good and it’s up to the individual to decide what they enjoy.

What I would like to do is offer some advice to those who are feeling overwhelmed and are thinking of leaving the hobby. If this is you, maybe it’s time to simplify things and take a different approach. There are many ways to do this but I’ll just give one suggestion here.

Build vintage team sets of your favorite team.

First, pick your favorite team (that’s the easy part). Second, pick up an empty card album and fill it with a bunch of 8 & 9 pocket plastic pages to hold cards. Third, create check lists of Topps cards for your team from somewhere in the mid 1960’s to the mid 1970’s. Fourth, plan on picking up a few cards to start your new, simple collection. Fifth, and most important, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT CONDITION!

Your long term goal is to just build team sets of your favorite team from the years when Topps was the only producer 1952 – 1980. Don’t worry about the sets in the 1950’s just yet or the fact that Bowman produced cards in the early 50’s.

The cards from the mid 60’s to early 70’s are actually quite affordable if you don’t stress about condition, even the hall of famers can be inexpensive in many cases. The cards from these years are also easy to find at almost any card show, on ebay, and at other online stores.

As you pick up the cards just put them in your album by year. Take your time and buy a handful of cards each month. You’ll be surprised at how fast your collection will build up but how long it will take to complete. There is a nice balance between progress and challenge in this approach.

If you’re a Yankees fan or like another team with some expensive ‘key’ cards don’t worry. Look for some really damaged cards to fill the holes or even better, just look for a reprint card. Maybe someday you’ll have a little extra money to buy the real thing.

As you’re working on these team sets you’ll probably find some good deals for cards from the 50’s or even the key cards. Don’t get impatient and start trying to find these deals, let them come to you. Pick a dealer or two and a show and work with them overtime. Dealers will often put things aside for you and give you good deals if you are a repeat customer.

I could go on and on but my point here is that before you leave something you once enjoyed so much, take a step back. Collecting probably didn’t seem complicated when you first started because you kept it simple. Maybe it’s time to take a step back.

Happy Holidays!