Sports card collecting has reached a fevered pitch in recent years, thanks to the Internet. Since when did watching someone open up a pack of baseball cards live streamed in front of an audience produce such a narcotizing effect? Well, since the Covid-19 pandemic stopped many sports card enthusiasts from visiting their local hobby shops.
It’s the fusion of an All-American hobby with the popularity of YouTube unboxing product videos and it’s only exploding.
What Is Box Breaking?
As many card shops have gone out of business, many sports card enthusiasts have turned to social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook, in order to watch someone flip through sports cards for hours. And for thousands of sports card collectors, this is prime-time entertainment.
So how does Box Breaking work?
When a card enthusiast is interested in a certain type of card, and not just the random selection included in a single pack, they find someone who runs a reputable breaker business online. On their breaker website is a listing of card cases in various price points.
The customer buys into what is called a “group break”, which is a case that will be opened for a group of customers who will share the cards. Usually, this is done by team.
One customer may, for example, buy all the Yankees cards, another may buy all the Red Sox cards. At much more affordable prices, others might buy all the Royals cards, etc. Cases can be divided by boxes or randomly, until all individual slots have been sold for the entirety of the set. Finally, the breaker opens the boxes and shows the cards on a livestream as customers hope to see their cards flash before their screen.
After the live stream is over, the breaker sorts all the cards in the boxes and mails the cards to the customers.
Why The Surge In Popularity?
After the effects of the pandemic slammed the economy with government-mandated lockdowns, rampant unemployment shortly followed, impacting every corner of the country.
Consequently, hobby and sports card collecting shops were forced to shut down or were constrained to operate on a very limited basis.
Another inevitable result of the pandemic: lack of community. One of the joys for card collectors is going to their local store to talk about cards directly with the owner.
However, the pandemic’s fury moved government officials to apply strict social distancing orders, breaking sports card collector communities apart. Card breaking allows card enthusiasts to regain a sense of community by moving the thrill of opening card packs at their local store to online.
Even if many social distancing orders have been lifted, some customers are still leery about visiting these shops now, even with masks on.
Those that head up breaking companies have also mentioned that the lack of live professional sports for months on end created a need for an outlet to trade their cards.
Mike Jaspersen, co-founder of Jaspy’s Case Breaks, said that at the start of the pandemic in mid-March of 2020, their revenue doubled due to the stay-at-home regulations nationwide.
Here is his take on the surge box breaking popularity:
“People weren’t working, they weren’t leaving the house, there was no sports, there was no DraftKings. It’s entertainment — people stream it on their TV.”
The Sports Card Industry Is More Sophisticated
Sports card collecting is traditionally viewed as a childhood hobby, with a stale piece of gum thrown in for good measure. It enjoyed its final golden age about 30 years ago. But since the pandemic, it has experienced an unprecedented comeback.
According to Sports Collectors Daily, eBay’s sports category sales from the months of March to May 2020 were reportedly 92% higher than the last three months of 2019. Basketball cards experienced the greatest rise in sales.
It is believed that card collectors are “drawn in by the emotional attachment.” It is also a way to transport adults back to the carefree days of their childhood.
Shockingly, one particular card of celebrated basketball star Lebron James sold for a whopping $5.2 million dollars. Reportedly, it was the most expensive basketball card ever sold.
But why are these cards commanding such a high ticket price?
According to serial entrepreneur and collector Gary Vaynerchuk:
“Good old-fashioned supply and demand – it’s as simple as it gets. LeBron, Luka… somebody plays extremely well, people then want that player and then that player inevitably has cards which were produced in very low production and are very limited.”
Another critical element that grants the card its value is its current condition. There are third-party companies that exist solely to authenticate and grade the card’s condition, using a 10-point grading scale.
Get In On The Win: Get A Box Breaking Merchant Account
Card breaking is showing no signs of stopping. Videos featuring hashtags #sportscards on TikTok alone have amassed over 330 million views. UFC cards are another potential market that could be opening up just around the corner.
Young collectors are also getting in on the trend which could be another sign for a “bullish” future for this hobby.
Brick and mortar hobby shops are seeing this lucrative business exploding. Many are considering packing it up and reaching their customers online. Those that have started their box breaking businesses online are now attracting their own audience and building their unique communities.
There is no doubt that this once “old-school hobby” is now an exploding market. Box breaking has revolutionized the sports card industry, giving it a solid footing within the online space and bringing the excitement to a new generation of card collectors.
If you are a merchant that is considering getting in on this highly lucrative online business, look no further than contacting EMB for all your credit card processing needs. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re just a phone call away!