Trading For Treasure: the pandemic creates a trading card boom

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 9:55 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Get out the old dusty shoeboxes from the attic, a historic trading card boom is underway, and one Henrico company is cashing in helping thousands around the world buy and sell little cardboard versions of their beloved sports icons.

Once a beacon of childhood memories for generations, trading cards are now a booming business for the Camann family in Richmond.

”My mom works. My brother-in-law, two of my sisters’ boyfriends, my nephew even comes in for a few hours. We ran out of family members,” said Zach Camann.

He started DCSports87 in 2016 after leaving the Coast Guard.

Camann was selling sports cards from his basement on eBay. His brother-in-law - now Vice President of the company- quickly joined him.

“It’s something that was a side hustle for me basically. It was something I did at night, after work. Never thought we’d have you know 20 people in an office,” said Tory Hermens.

Now they’re in a nearly 7000 square foot office building with 40 employees.

Half work remotely, and those in the office take photos of other people’s collectibles. Pulling cards for and from the auction and mailing them out.

“If you don’t know, consignment is when they submit their cards or collectibles to us. We sell them on eBay because we have the manpower to support that. We have the platform and the big follow of our store,” added Hermens.

DCSports87 lists about three thousand cards and ships 12 to 14 hundred packages daily - saving customers time and often earning big money. “We take a cut of that and they get the rest. So they save the work of shipping and listing and everything they have to do online,” said Hermens.

Some cards sell for 10, 20, even 30,000 dollars. A signed Kobe Bryant is asking for nearly $60,000 to buy it now. Auctioned cards start out listed at 99 cents. “A Patrick Mahomes Rookie patch auto, that’s at $7400 with still 3 days of bidding left,” pointed out Hermens.

While many businesses suffered during the pandemic - the trading card industry exploded. “I wasn’t worried about the market. and our volume and everything. the only thing I was terrified of was mail shutting down,” said Camann.

According to Verified Market Research the trading card industry was worth $13 billion in 2019, and could be upwards of $100 billion by 2027.

“There’s a variety of different types of collectors. A lot of them are in it because they love, they love their sports teams and they want to, they want to collect all their favorite players,” adds Camann.

Trading cards are not just a family affair - for some, it’s an investment. “It’s really gone from where it was just people who collect to now it’s way more of a stock market, speculative, type atmosphere, to where it’s all about buying and selling, how can you make a profit,” said Hermens.

From a 1953 Mickey Mantle to a rare Mike Trout rookie card, soccer cards, UFC, and even passionate Pokemon collectors are feeding the resurgence.

“Two years ago we did about $1.5 million dollars in sales on eBay. Last year that went to a little over 9 and this year we’ll end up at about $40 million,” said Hermens.

So what makes one card worth more than another?

Buyers are looking at the condition of the corners; is there any whitening along the edges? How centered is the image is on the card? Is there any surface damage? Some companies ‘grade’ cards and give them a rating. The higher the rating, the better the condition, the more it’s worth.

“To end up with a 7.5 on a 1953 card is really hard because most people in 1953 were putting them in their bike spokes,” said Hermens.

The boom doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The tug of nostalgia - bringing a century-old past-time - roaring into the 2020′s.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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