Success of Sports Memorabilia Industry Should Serve as a Source of Potential For Cards

Sports memorabilia and autograph memorabilia is a big deal these days. Such a big deal that memorabilia collectors are some the largest whales in any hobby – not just collectors from this type of an arena. If you think people spend a lot of money on cards, people spend 10-15 times that amount per capita in memorabilia. To capitalize on this huge group of people, companies have started to creep into the space slowly but surely, as we have seen with Upper Deck authentic and Panini authentic. They arent even the big dogs, and there might even be a new big dog in the game now that Fanatics has decided to go after a growing number of people who love to get signatures from their favorite teams and athletes. They are even getting extra creative at bringing collectors closer to the game.

Check out these awesome examples:

1972 Miami Dolphins Team Signed Stadium Chairs

Yasiel Puig Full Sized Signed Home Jersey

Colin Kaepernick In Focus Signed Print With Inscription

Companies like Fanatics, Tristar, CSA, GTS and others will take their connections and build entire conventions and shows around the high profile guests they schedule to attend. Its actually pretty impressive, having attended quite a few of them. One of the more recent shows had most of the living members of the 1985 Bears, all signing in one place at one time. That is awesome, no matter which way you slice it. The National Convention may have thousands of tables selling sports cards, but just as many people also go to meet the hundred or so players that are signing throughout the weekend. When attending, its fun to watch all the different items people bring to have signed.

Although these shows give people like me a great chance to meet their idols, its not going to come cheap in any way, shape or form. This isnt a place that anyone should go and bring some cheap cards to sign. That is just not cost effective. Shows like I am describing are for those people looking to get their collection centerpieces marked by the athlete with no questionable authenticity.

The market is not all about autographed photos and items either, as game used memorabilia is easily the tip of the top of the mountain. Collectors will go nuts trying to acquire rare items from their favorite players, eras and teams. Whether its jerseys or equipment, its all worth chasing to many of the people who live and die by these pieces. Some of the golden age memorabilia can sell for millions of dollars, especially for people like Babe Ruth and other titans of the game.

Just talking with some of these bigger collectors makes one feel like small potatoes. Cards are just not the thing that is worth anything compared to the absolutely stunning items that I have seen sold at the bigger gatherings over the last few years. Rarely does a card make news the way a signed piece of game used memorabilia can.

We always talk about the hobby thinning out, but the strength of the memorabilia industry should be a breath of fresh air. If I were the card companies, this is the market I would be chasing.

3 thoughts on “Success of Sports Memorabilia Industry Should Serve as a Source of Potential For Cards

  1. I like that you show all of these links to eBay and what people are offering their items for – but what would have more impact would be what these items ultimately sold for (if they even did at all). They all sit there with 5-10 offers and no sales. Now I understand a lot of people lowball, but I have tried making solid offers for cards (well above final bid auctions for the exact similar items) only for the sellers to reject it and say something like “I can only go this low” or “don’t insult me” – rarely do they budge. So they just sit there for weeks and months. Stick to showing actual bids in progress or winning bids – that is a truer indication of the market, not these seller inflated Buy it Now prices.

  2. My main reason for attending the National this year will be to get an in person autograph on a jersey. I attended the last National in Cleveland and being able to get a signature in person is amazing. I actually had my digital camera and videoed as I walked up to the table and as YA Tittle signed an item I had brought. You can’t argue with having a video to prove authenticity.
    I keep hoping they’ll add Aikman to the National list this year. I really want to get the official double-star throwback jersey I’ve got signed. You are correct on the awesomeness of signed memorabilia vs. cards. I also have a Texas Stadium seat signed by Emmitt Smith. How I got lucky enough to actually get a seat #22 with the little silver seat number on it as well, is just amazing.

  3. I think when it comes to sports memorabilia collectors versus sports card collectors you are talking about two very different people. Sports card collectors are more like hunters; they enjoy the thrill of finding cards to put together a set, opening boxes to discover rare cards, and roaming tables at shows to find just the right piece for their collection. I believe sports card collectors have more of a passion for collecting simply because it requires more work to find the cards they want for the right price. The biggest reason why I personally collect sports cards is the adrenaline rush I feel when pulling a rare card from a pack. I don’t see this same feeling translating to the sports memorabilia world, which is why I think it’s silly for card companies to start producing sports memorabilia. To me, buying sports memorabilia is more of a retail shopping experience with the only thrill being the fact that you can finally afford the piece you want. I believe there are two main reasons why people buy sports memorabilia; to prove to themselves how big of a fan they are and to prove to others how big of a fan they are. They display these rare items proudly in their home or office as a testament of their dedication to a specific team, player, or sport. But it’s not really collecting to me because there’s no effort made to find these rare pieces besides scrolling through a website or auction catalog. If the card companies want to bring more sports memorabilia collectors into the sports card world, they need to find ways of introducing people to the thrill of unexpectedly finding something rare.

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