Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beware of Heritage Green Tint

We all know Topps loves inserting short print (SP) cards into their releases these days. The recent release of 2011 Topps Heritage is no exception. In the set there are a number of 'Green Tint' cards where the photo has a greenish tint to it.

I have not been able to find an official checklist yet of which baseball cards have this feature but you can bet there are a bunch listed on ebay. Based on the photos I have seen the variation is subtle, yet when compared to the 'normal' version of the card it's pretty clear. The tricky thing is there are a number of cards with green backgrounds that do not appear to have this green tint.

Of course, it looks like there are a number of these 'normal' cards with the green background listed on ebay as green tint variations (just go to ebay and do a search on 2011 Topps Heritage Green Tint). I just wanted to throw this out there in case someone is planning on purchasing these variations on ebay. My advice is to stick to the auctions where they show the normal card and the green tint card side by side. Alternatively, do a search on Google to see if you can find confirmation of which cards have the green tint variation. If anyone finds an official list please let me know and I will post it here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

First Card Memories

One of the great things about being involved in a hobby, be it baseball cards or anything else, is the people you meet along the way.

I've been sending a few cards out over the last couple of months to a gentleman who gives them to the kids he teaches. A father of one of the children asked that he send me a link to this article. It was a small gesture but to me it was nice to know someone thought enough to pass it along. I enjoy reading light pieces like this so I really appreciated the thought.

The article itself is about a father sharing the experience of his son opening his first pack of Topps baseball cards. It reminded me of the first card I ever received.

I got my first pack of cards back in 1977 but I have no idea what it contained. However, the year before my sister came home from school with some type of scholastic newsletter or magazine. In that magazine there was a strip of two or three baseball cards which she didn't want and one of the cards was a 1976 Ron LeFlore Topps card (it was a real Topps card to the best of my memory). So I ripped the card out and carried it around with pride for days. I didn't even bother me that the edge of the card was torn, I had my first card and it was a Tigers card. I suspect if I had kept this strip of cards in tact it would be very rare now and worth some money, of course I didn't care about that stuff when I was 8 years old. Thus my collecting journey had begun.

Does anyone remember their first card or pack of cards?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In my last blog I revealed a new type of box break I wanted to try where I would pull a group of cards from one of the many tens of thousands of cards that I have yet to list online. I happened to pull a group of 2003 Chrome cards. First, I realize why it takes so long to go through a book of 5000 cards and try to list them in my inventory. For this particular group there were actually 5 different sets of 2003 Topps Chrome cards present, which meant I had to create 5 checklists and price 5 sets of cards. (Life was so much easier prior to inserts).

There were about 259 cards total and it turned out the bulk of the cards were 2003 Topps Chrome Traded (195), not the base set cards like I expected. Here are what they look like......

There were only 14 Topps Chrome base set cards but they were all draft pick, prospect, rookie cards. The highlight included 2 Joe Mauer/Justin Morneau rooke cards along with a Jose Reyes (Mets) and Victor Matinez (Indians) rookie card. (There was also a Drew Henson Yankees card...remember him?)

Things got a little better when I started seeing serial numbers. First there was nice group of 17 Chrome Refractors numbered to 699. Here's a quick breakdown by team and a few of the players...

17 2003 Topps Chrome Refractors (SN/699)
2 Cardinals - J.D.Drew
1 Mariners - Freddy Garcia
1 - White Sox - Sandy Alomar Jr.
1 - Pirates - Reggie Sanders
1 - Diamondbacks
1 - Orioles
1 - Cubs
2 Rockies
1 RED Sox - Johnny Damon
1 Astros
1 Expos
1 Dodgers - Brian Jordan
1 Giants - J.T. Snow
2 Blue Jays - Eric Hinske

The serial numbers kept coming as there was a group of 29 Gold Refractors numbered to 449....

Here's the breakdown...

4 Cubs - Todd Hundley, Moises Alou
1 Rockies
1 Royals
2 Astros
2 Twins
2 Mariners -Edgar Martinez, Kazuhiro Sasaki
1 Red Sox - Johnny Damon
1 Angels
2 A's - Keith Foulke, David Justice
2 Brewers
4 Padres
2 Diamondbacks - Matt Williams
1 Giants - Trevor Hoffman
1 Marlins - A.J. Burnett
2 Reds
1 Cardinals - J.D. Drew

Finally, I came across 4 Black Refractors numbered to 199.....

1 Diamondback - Craig Counsell
1 Angels - Tim Salmon
2 Tigers - Shane Halter, Brandon Inge

It was pretty cool finding all the serial numbered cards and fun to pull some random cards to list online. I will do this type of 'break' periodically so you can see what it's like to go through random 5000 ct. boxes of cards.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Deck

If you read my last entry I mentioned that I'm going to try a different type of box break. Having purchased tens of thousands of cards from a dealer that went out of business, I need to force myself to start getting those cards online. So I've picked a random box and pulled a subset of cards from that box which I plan to add over the weekend.

The box I picked seems to contain mainly 2003 baseball cards and the group of cards I pulled from the box are 2003 Topps Chrome. I took a quick peek and it looks like there are traded cards and serial numbered cards so it could be a cool mix. This weekend I plan to have the cards online and I'll reveal more details of what was pulled.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Different Type of Box Break

One of the biggest challenges I've come across in running my store is adding the new cards that are coming out each week to my online inventory while trying to add cards from the older sets.

I've always wanted to deal with cards in one way or another but the defining moment came when I visited a local card shop last year. On that visit the owner told me he was quitting the business and he wanted to sell all the 5000 card boxes he had in stock. We worked out a deal and before I knew it i was hauling away more boxes than I knew what to do with. I spent the next few weeks just roughly sorting the cards by year and brand, all sports were present. My plan was to build my website and start listing all the cards I had recently purchased.

It took me a few months to build my site (I may blog more about that another day) then I was ready to start listing cards. My first thought was that I should list the current year of Topps baseball cards. Then I decided I should add some current cards for hockey, football, and basketball. I also broke some sets I had from my personal collection, picked up some bargains each month at local shows, and I continued by adding those cards. Before I knew it I was chasing new sets that were coming out each week and month. Now, a full year later I'm looking back and realizing I still have all those cards from my initial purchase and I've only listed a bunch or cards from the 2001 Topps baseball set. So I've come up with a new idea for a 'Box Break' to fix this problem.

You see, I love watching videos of box breaks on YouTube or reading blogs about boxes people have broken. So I've decided I'm going to randomly pull a group of cards from the 5000 card boxes I have in stock, this will be my own type of box break and I'm going to be forced to list them online. I'll sort them, add them online, and then I'll write a short blog about what I've found. I have no idea of what I might pull but I do know I have cards of all types from all manufacturers, most from the late 90's to 2008 or 2009. I have no idea where this will go but if you've ever dreamed of sorting through a few hundred thousand random cards that's exactly what I'll be blogging about. Stayed tuned.......I'll announce my first 'break' in a day or two.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Advertise for Your Competitors (SEO Part 2)

It's funny how ideas for a blog entry pop into your head.

This morning I woke up and checked the email I received for my online store. I found a 'nice' letter from another website looking to exchange links to each others sites. So it got me thinking, have you ever looked at a website and found a page where they provided links to their competitors? If so, have you ever wondered why sites that are in competition with each other would do this? It's like walking into Target and finding a sign that says, 'Shop at Walmart!'

Well, if you haven't come across this practice you can find it on my site by looking at my links page. This goes back to the question of why would a site do this? It's all related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). One thing Google takes into account when doing their rankings is how many sites are linking to your site. There are a few types of links; one being the reciprocal link. This is a link where you and another website exchange links. In the end, it helps both sites improve their ranking in Google. So if you're starting an online store it can actually be helpful to work with your competitor rather than work against them. Besides, within the sports cards business we've seen so many variations of cards and sets of the years there is no way one store can carry everything a buyer is looking for, so why not help collectors find alternative sources to build their collections? Besides, if you provide a quality service you shouldn't worry about people not coming back.

I have more to say about this topic of linking and the email I received this morning but I'm going to keep this entry short. Look out for my next entry (hopefully tomorrow) where I outline a new type of 'box break' which I plan to blog about in the coming weeks.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Philly Show

Just got back from the Philly Show. For anyone who didn't read my last blog entry this is one of the bigger shows on the east coast. I found it odd that the Philly Show website did not have the list of signers posted. I believe the organization that runs this show has a different website and I found the list of signers on there site: MAB Celebrity Services.

As for the show, I got there late but I did catch a glimpse of a couple of former players such as Lenny Dysktra, Orlando Cepeda, and Thaddeus Young. While I was looking at cards at one table I over heard a lady talking about how pleasant Thaddeus Young was compared to someone else whose name I did not hear. I always find it interesting to hear what the players are like when they attend these shows.

The show itself had a decent crowd even though I got there late in the day. However, it looked like there were less dealers this year and I noticed a couple of major dealers where missing as well. The good news is that the handful of dealers I spoke to all said that the crowds and business where good today. (I did my part to contribute!) One dealer pointed out that it might have helped that there was less competition.

The Philly Show, in my opinion, is typically heavy with vintage card dealers and this show was no exception. Since I'm focusing on the modern cards until I had to search a little harder for items that might help my inventory. I ended up picking up a 2008 Topps Baseball Series I Jumbo box and a 1996 Topps Baseball set at good prices. I also picked up one of the last 2010/11 Upper Deck Hockey Series II boxes that I could find (note: these were selling well at the show). I also picked up and box of UD Hockey Series II Jumbo Rack Packs which are supposed to have a better hit rate on the Young Guns than the hobby box. Yes, it's an odd mix of purchase but I was looking for good deals to help fill holes in my inventory.

Finally, I had a blast searching through a the inventory of a couple of dealers looking for interesting inserts. I basically I looked for serial numbered cards and other inserts that might fit into collection of people who have ordered from me recently. I'll just put these online this week and see if they surprise some people.

This got me thinking, I'd love to know what players and teams you collect. I'd love to have a list of players/teams to focus on and I could keep an eye out for cool inserts, jersey cards, or other parallels which I could put into inventory. I'd also like to send out an email periodically (quarterly?) that is tailored to your collection which highlights the cards we've added of your player/team. Just drop a comment here or send me an email at of a player or team your collecting and I'll keep an eye out for their cards when I'm at the shows.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


March can be a frustrating month when you're waiting for spring to arrive. You start getting some nice breaks in the weather and then just when you think spring is close you get smacked with a few more weeks of miserable cold weather.

However, when it comes to collecting, March is probably my favorite month. You have all the optimistic news coming out of spring training about the next hot rookies, Topps baseball cards are in full swing, and Heritage is just around the corner. But the most important thing March means to me is The Philly Show.

If you live near Philadelphia (actually King of Prussia) PA, The Philly Show is probably the best show of the year. It's been running since 1975 and has about 100 - 150 dealers/tables. There is usually a great lineup of HOF's signing each day and the last few years they've had an ex-Philly player signing for free. All the major grading agencies have booths, many of the major auction houses are there, as are many of the dealers you see advertising in the major hobby publications.

The show is also held in the fall and last year was the first time I attended that session. Unfortunately the turnout seemed lighter than in the spring. I'm curious to see what the turnout will be this weekend and who will be signing. I usually like to bring a couple of cards for guest who signs for free. I do find it odd that the show starts tomorrow and there still isn't a list of who is signing on the website. You would think that would help draw a crowd. If the crowd is light again then the promoter needs to take this into consideration.

Anyway, I'm not sure what day I'll attend but I write up a quick note afterward to let everyone know how it was and who was signing.