What Lessons Can We Learn From 2010 Bowman Chrome?

When the maniacal buying habits of Stephen Strasburg collectors reached its peak, many card shop owners and distributors bought in to the future products in a similarly ridiculous way. When Strasburg’s elbow went the way of Mark Prior’s career, many of said retailers got into some very hot water, especially with Topps and Bowman Chrome. Because the products were unable to carry weight solely on Strasburg’s perceived potential anymore, collectors were no longer poised to make these products as popular as many expected them to be.

I have gotten emails from two separate people affiliated with distributors around the country, and both were saying that they and many of their competitors have needed to drop prices across the board to make up for the money they would be losing on Topps and Bowman Chrome. When I heard that, it struck me as kind of weird, yet very scary, especially considering how many shops were already in trouble due to recent economic troubles. I mean, when was the last time any injury cost people THIS much money?

Now that Bowman Chrome has hit shelves, and prices on boxes and cases are starting off WELL below expectations, Stras-mas may end up being more of a debilitating shit storm than the whirling dervish it was expected to be. With Bryce Harper mania coming next year in similar fashion, I wonder if people will approach it differently considering what has happened with Baseball’s most hyped player in recent memory. Topps has already made Harper the mascot of their Diamond anniversary, and I think more than a few people are already making the skeptical face before we even get into the thick of the 2011 release calendar.

Harper is a bit of a different animal, mainly because fire ball pitchers are always more of injury risk, and Harper’s talent level may be far above where Strasburg’s was come the beginning of 2010. Harper is also a power hitting catcher, and we all know, chicks dig the long ball. Its almost creating a perfect storm similar to the one created when Strasburg was called up and struck out as many batters as he did. But, will this storm continue to run at F5 the whole year, or will the crazy people who don’t understand when to buy be left holding another stack of greatly diminished cards.

Don’t get me wrong, this is just as much about buying habits as anything, as there was no sane reason why anyone should have been paying what they were for Stras’ cards when there was ABSOLUTELY no ability to make any sort of return on them. Even Strasburg fans or Nationals fans should have waited out the initial frenzy, because as we found out, for every .com boom, there is a bubble that bursts eventually. Just like a bad recession has forced Americans into saving money for the first time in decades, the Strasburg investment bust may shun people away from spending the money they normally would on Harper.

In the end, both Stras and Harper could end up being superstars, even though signs point that one or both will end up in the hole of mediocrity according to the odds. With Bowman Chrome sales where they are, hopefully people will get that no investment is a sure thing, and that waiting it out and losing the big gain is a lot less risky than jumping in and losing everything.

3 thoughts on “What Lessons Can We Learn From 2010 Bowman Chrome?

  1. Very true, one of your best articles to date. I think the Harper frenzy could be just as bad if not worse. Could you imagine if they made a dual auto of these 2? Riots would start! Just kidding.

  2. I have been in the retail business for over 19 years. We own three stores which are not sports card related in any way. In the retail business (everything but sports cards) the manufacturers control distribution and wholesale pricing. You may not like it, but it protects the retailer and the customer, and has proven to be a successful business model. Yes, it protects the customer. How many customers like to buy or preorder a product one week only to find out it went down 20% to 30% two weeks after they received the product?

    Until recently, the sports card manufacturers did not seem to care what their products sold for once it left their hands, Card manufacturers sold out the entire product at or before time of release. The manufacturers got their money, that’s all they cared. Sports Card Shops and other retailers are required to commit/buy the product way before the product is released. However, when card retailers find out they overbought (You have overbought when the end of the food chain, the customer does not buy-out the retailer’s inventory), the retailer immediately panics and starts reducing prices.

    In all other forms of retail business a retail product NEVER goes down in price in its first six to twelve months (except for temporary holiday “SALES”). This is because the manufacturer controls distribution to make sure the product is evenly distributed over a reasonable period of time.

    Card manufacturers need to take control of their product distribution. If the manufacturer has overproduced a product and they believe in their product, they need to hold it back until the true demand (the end of the food chain, the true customer) catches up with the production. This is the way it works in all successful manufacturing businesses.

  3. I knew that Strasburg mania was getting out of hand, and like everyone, I wanted something of the stras, so I bought the jerseys and it only cost me 120.00 for road and away, so they sit in the closet until his return. For anyone that bought any RC over 200.00 was insane. Topps made the critical error on its million dollar site by excluding the 206 cards and putting in that exclusive RC. One thing is for sure, wait to see if the value is there before jumping, how many times has this happened in 20 years, nothing is what it seems.

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