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?

Sell or Hold: 2012 Russell Wilson Patch/Auto Rookie

Well ladies and gentlemen, it is time for a brand new game called “Sell or Hold”!

This episode will take a look at one of the hottest young quarterbacks in the National Football League and a card of epic proportions! Well not totally epic as there are definitely some higher end cards out there, but it is a card that I have in my possession. Okay, basically I’m looking for cheap advice. But if it goes over well maybe I’ll do a few more of these when I have a wee bit of time.

SO! The question is… SELL OR HOLD!

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The finer details of the card: 2012 Panini Super Bowl Black Box Russell Wilson 3 Color Patch/Autograph #d/15.

What do you think? Someone offered to buy it off of me around the time of the release of this card, but he wanted a little below what I thought was the asking value.  I also decided to hold onto it due to Wilson’s success and the possibility of a long Seahawks run in the playoffs. Do I wait again to see how the Seahawks fare in getting to a Super Bowl? Do I sell it ahead of time?

Card of the Day: 2013-14 Upper Deck Trilogy Charlie Coyle RC Auto

Who is Charlie Coyle? Just a guy drafted 28th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. A decent Center prospect who was traded to the Minnesota Wild and scored his first NHL goal last season. He isn’t one of the stars of the rookie class, but he is making a name for himself in other ways.

Behold.

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Sorry for the terrible grab there. But the scan sucked.

Well now I’m not sure who Charlie Coyle is even more. Do his teammates call him “Dick”? Is this an homage to recently deceased Richard McWilliam? That can’t be you real autograph, can it be Charlie?

Charlie is obviously a jokester or a collector himself knowing that this would go into collector’s hands and could be worth a bit more than his usual autographs.

How Upper Deck Quality Assurance missed this? We will never know.

Update: Upper Deck states that the autograph is fake after contacting the athlete in question. Should you believe them? If you were the athlete, would you confess to doing that? Another thing we will never know.

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.)

How to Prepare a Trading Card for In Person (IP) or Through the Mail (TTM) Autographs

My “boss” thought people would like to know about this, so at his request, I bring to the readers a post about how to prep cards to be signed for in-person (IP) and/or through-the-mail (TTM) autographs.

The first thing is what type of cards to use to be autographed. I personally will stick with base, and low-end inserts/parallel cards. Some people prefer to get numbered cards autographed and I’ve even seen some get jersey cards or 1/1 press plates signed. Really, it’s what the specific collector wants signed, but if you were to ask me, I’d stick with lower-end cards.

The next question you may ask is, “is there anything I need to do to prepare the cards to be signed”? The answer to that question would be yes, depending on the card being used. If the card has a non-glossy surface (think of cards like Heritage, Allen & Ginter, etc), then you don’t need to do anything to prepare the cards, however if you use a card that is glossy, it does need to be prepared.

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There are two ways you can prepare a card to be signed. The first option is you can baby powder to take off the gloss. Just sprinkle a little bit of baby powder on the card, spread it around so it covers the entire card. After you’ve done that, use either a paper towel, or Kleenex to remove the baby powder. This method can be more time consuming and messy, but it also does a really good job removing the gloss on a card.

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The second way that you can prepare a glossy card is to use a white eraser. This is the method that I use now as it’s a quicker, and more efficient way for me to prepare my cards to be signed. I just erase the entire card and it takes the gloss right off. Depending on the card you use and the type of eraser, it may streak the card, but this is rare for the most part.

So there you have it. Hopefully if getting autographs signed TTM or IP was of interest to you, this information has helped!

Here are some examples of how well it works when completed:

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