Did Beckett Just Commit Suicide?

For years, Beckett has been on the decline in terms of their place in the sports card marketplace. Informed collectors have continuously displayed their displeasure for the former giant in the sports card collectibles marketplace. The constant complaints on accurate pricing and inflated card prices have made them an illegitimate source in many collectors’ eyes.

Recently, one of the newer dogs on the block, Check Out My Cards (or COMC) has had a deal with Beckett to utilize their Beckett values on their website for pricing on cards. Since COMC was founded, these prices were embedded into the product at COMC. However, with the new year beginning, Beckett has decided to terminate their agreement with COMC. COMC will no longer be allowed to utilize Beckett’s pricing on their website. With it, comes the response from COMC.

The one thing I have learned since my interview with managers at COMC is that you don’t back them down into a corner. They will find a way to rebound while under Tim’s leadership and his abilities behind a keyboard. His response, if done correctly (and I firmly believe it will be), can revolutionize the industry and shift the collectibles marketplace toward a real-time, data driven industry. If Tim is able to bring in pricing data from not only COMC but other online retailers (such as eBay) this could be the next big thing. Others have had the idea but never had the abilities or resources to put it into place. Tim and his team are the people who can make it a reality.

With that said, does this spell the end of Beckett unless they are able to change and adapt to the very industry that has kept them alive all of these years?

Interview: A Day With CheckOutMyCards (COMC)

As most people who follow the official SportsCardBlog Twitter feed, I recently spent some time up in Seattle at some Red Sox games. Upon deciding that I would base my stay out of the nearby city of Redmond, I decided to shoot a message over to the fine people at CheckOutMyCards (COMC) to determine if I could get some face time over there. Well, the answer was, of course, yes!

COMC

And the time couldn’t have come any more perfect. I wanted to start selling some inserts and lower end cards on there to see how it all works, so I was able to drop off 300 cards (currently processing). It was also during that time in which COMC changed their policy on Beckett prices. I was also able to chat with Jeremy Williams, Strategic Projects Manager for COMC. He invited me out for a hot cuppa’ tea and we chatted…and chatted…and chatted. For about three hours we chatted about the industry, cards, COMC, my blog, and everything in between.

I wanted to spend the time learning more about COMC and how it worked. I wanted to learn some things people may not be aware of or know about COMC. I also wanted a tour, but I wasn’t able to secure that deal due to proprietary issues (I still won’t tell, I promise!) So let’s talk about what I learned:

Beckett Pricing

I want to start, first and foremost, with the ongoing issue with COMC that is on everyone’s mind. Beckett pricing is no longer available for free. Personally, I knew this was a long time coming due to my past involvement with Sports Card Forum. Beckett owns the rights to their pricing and giving it away for free became too big of a price for COMC. With 7 million cards (and almost 2 million different cards), I’d imagine that tag was getting pretty high. In order to financially feasible, it was important to change how that worked. And based on what little I do know about business and what I know about the legal issues behind supplying this information, it was inevitable. However, I do like COMC’s solution of paying for it when you process a card with them and seeing past sales history on the site. Personally, I don’t think Beckett value really matters anyway, but it is a decent gauge. One could argue COMC may have gotten the short end of the deal with the new contract with Beckett, but would you rather have the information or not have it?

As far as their communications went about announcing the changes. They do realize the mistakes they made and are already working on improvements on that front. I think the latest post on their apology was a big step forward for most collectors and they are continuing to try and improve their process.

I also want to mention, technically, purchasing a Beckett subcription is 20% cheaper with COMC credit because you would have to “cash out” to pay for it normally and get that 20% taken off. Just a thought.

New Ideas

One of the big things I was interested in was “What’s next for COMC?” I got a large number of answers. COMC has continued its evolution as quickly as Tim can churn out the programming for what he wants to implement. From what I can see, he has the vision for a lot of things and his staff really supports his work. So what is coming up?

Base cards - While I can’t go into much detail, as I couldn’t get much detail myself, COMC is working on a way to buy/sell base cards as effectively, efficiently, and most importantly cheaply as possible. Set builders can start rejoicing now.

Trading – I’ve made this apparent in the past that I would love to see this implemented. Tim has the same thoughts as well. Trading, at some point, may be implemented into COMC. It all depends on how the service works, how tough it is to code, and all that other fun stuff you have to strategize about. Imagine the possibilities of a 5 person trade or trading your cards online where you can see just about everything about the card you want, including pictures. Yes!

Shipping - One of the things COMC is trying to improve on is how the product gets to them and how they get it back to you with minimum fees. As far as I was told, and I fully believe them, COMC makes $0 on shipping. In fact, they have in the past lost money on shipping. In order to increase survivability of COMC, they have tried to create new ways to ship to them and receive your cards. Basically, it is their new Mailbox program on steroids. COMC is working on teaming up with local card shops, card shows, and other trusted individuals to ship items for you up to Redmond, and back to you. Imagine your own little mailbox at your favorite card shop or card show. It will save you some good money on shipping!

Final Thoughts

Everything about COMC is revolving around the customer, whether you choose to drink the Kool-Aid or not. You can tell by their constant innovations on the site, trying new ideas, taking customers thoughts on ideas to improve the site and the hobby, a lot of things. Me? I’m drinking the Kool-Aid as I firmly believe they are looking out for the customer first. I thought that before my meeting, and my meeting reaffirmed those beliefs.

Is it your best option for selling? It depends on what you are selling and why you are selling it. Quick flip on a hot player on cards that just came out yesterday? Yeah, might not be the best for you right now. But you know what? They know that and are working on ways to help you get the maximum amount for your card. The entire staff has all the faith in the world in Tim and the company, and from talking to Jeremy I can see why. Tim is meticulous and plans everything. Every contingency, every thought, every piece of information that comes to mind is thought through. The hobby needs someone like him to be a visionary of the future.

One of the last questions I was asked is “Where do I see the hobby going in the future?” My answer? I have no clue. And from the clues I see today coming from the depths of the hobby, I’m not entirely optimistic. But I think Tim, Jeremy, and the rest of the COMC staff do have a clue and they want to be the innovators who change the hobby for good.

Some fun facts:

- Up to over 50 employees!

- Want to know why items get shipped so efficiently? They are right next to a USPS warehouse! (Planned when new warehouse was bought.)

- The company with the largest number of SKUs in the world! (Unverified, but likely.)

Leon Sandcastle Rookie Card and Autographs Are Coming

leon-sandcastle-score-rookie-card-front-blog

Panini America announced last week that despite Leon Sandcastle not getting drafted in this year’s NFL Draft, they will be producing cards of the future star cornerback.

Want to know where you can pick up the first 2013 Leon Sandcastle rookie cards? 2013 Score football. This $1.99 per pack product features all of your favorite veterans, the top rookies from the NFL Draft and of course, Leon Sandcastle.

His first autograph cards won’t appear until June though. The release of 2013 Panini Prestige football will feature some ink from the Sandcastle himself, amongst other top rookie from this year’s draft.

While he may not be playing in the NFL this season, Panini will still be bringing you closer to De…Leon Sandcastle.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good gimmick that the collectors would like to see. This is a great example. But would this be needed if the draft class was as good as last season? Would companies actually be considering this to drive hype with a weak rookie class? I’m not so sure. However, it really does add to the “fun” aspect of collecting. If Deion Sanders is really signing for these cards, it could add a pretty penny to some collector’s wallets as well.

Read more from Panini’s official blog about their plans for “the Sandcastle”.

Big Deals at MojoBreak During Industry Summit

See, my original goal of getting to the Industry Summit this year was thwarted by my boss at work. I just couldn’t get the time off of work. I had the cash, the plans, everything. I was going to show off my blog during Q&As, I was going to chat with the connections I’ve made with the industry to learn more, and I was going to showcase my 206 average at the Topps bowling extravaganza. Fail.

But I was also going to interview and work with my fine friends over at MojoBreak to spread the word. But that didn’t happen either. But instead, I’m still going to help them out by spreading the word of the great group break deals you can get with the best group breakers on the net.

They will be doing 15-18 breaks of product, great deals, and will be giving away the prized Panini Black Boxes. They will be having 7 breaks on Sunday, 7 breaks on Monday, and a few on Tuesday. It will be a huge end of the weekend party with them. Anyone who enters a break on that Sunday or Monday gets a chance at the Black Boxes. Also, Brian Gray from Leaf will be giving away items as well for those participating.

The best way is obviously to get involved and join their breaks. Make sure you check their official Industry Summit schedule to see what’s going on.

MojoBreak is one of our fantastic affiliate partners and we support them 100% as a trustworthy group break company. We’re even customers as well.

Fradulent Game Used Jerseys Still Raising Questions

September 13, 2012, was what seems like a long time ago now. I was on the plane back from Hawaii. Most people were still buzzing about what they saw at the National a month before. The best part of the baseball season was underway. “JerseyGate” was brought up, and forgotten by most collectors.

3 months later, we still don’t have any answers.

The New York Daily News posted a story back in September giving the details on how a fraudster sold fake game used jerseys to companies in order for them to make trading cards. The fraudster says he knew they were fake, the companies knew they were fake, but they purchased them anyway. He names all of the biggest manufacturers in Upper Deck, Topps, and Panini America.

The story also mentions in an interview with the suspect a certain incident he had with Upper Deck where he was selling them fake game used Derek Jeter jerseys and how they were “inviting fraud” because they were “unwilling to pay market price.”

Many collectors originally made a stink about the whole issue, but the card companies just wiped everything under the rug as if nothing happened at all. Consumers were never given a statement by any of these companies, so the question still lies…where are these fraudulent jerseys now? What steps have they taken to ensure this doesn’t continue? We’ve heard nothing.

I, for one, no longer personally collect game used jersey cards. After reading about the rampant corruption and fraud within the memorabilia industry I just stick with autographs, and even those have their own issues as well. At this point, what part of the industry isn’t a sham?