Secrets of the Trading Card Boom

Nothing beats making a deal at the wrong time, but Ken Goldin, founder and president of Goldin Auctions, is as optimistic as ever.

“I’m fine, I’m very happy,” Goldin told me, but “I could have waited three or six months before I made my trades on Goldin.” [Auctions] And I’ll have a lot more in the bank today.”

In July, Goldin Auctions was sold to Collectors Holdings, a group owned by New York Mets owner Steve Cohen. Terms were not disclosed, but one estimate put the price at more than $200 million.

The deal followed a $40 million funding round in February from The Chernin Group and a host of sports and celebrity investors, including Mark Cuban, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Deshaun Watson, Mark Wahlberg, Logan Paul, Timbaland and Bill Simmons.

Last summer, Goldin shared the industry consensus that the holdings boom would stabilize from the frenetic pace built up during the pandemic.

“I, like everyone else with a lot of experience in the industry, mistakenly thought that with the lockdown being lifted, and there were treatments and vaccines in place, some of the interest was going to wane,” Goldin said. “And to my surprise and happiness, nothing was further from the truth.”

Proof of this lies in deals such as the $500 million acquisition of Topps by fanatics (not to mention the October trading card fanatics valuation of $10.4 billion) and Amazon’s investment in the Dibbs collectibles market.

Goldin told me that his platform hosted $27 million in transactions in 2019, $100 million in 2020, $330 million in 2021, and $500 million in projects this year.

A new era in collectibles

But why the sudden explosion of interest?

Omnipotent motivation itself is somewhat ambiguous, but we can accept it as one of the many distinguishing characteristics of human behavior when it is mostly in the background. However, when seven-figure sales, such as the purchase of the Tom Brady starter card that Goldin hosted last June, become commonplace, we have to research and ask what exactly is going on here.

Goldin saw something brewing before the pandemic made landfall in the United States, both in terms of how much people spend and what they spend on it.

“In October 2016, I sold a LeBron James card for about $312,000, and I think it was the beginning of the era of modern trading cards,” he said.

The dollar number was catchy, but so was the player. Before that, Goldin, who had been buying and selling cards for decades, had only seen sums like this for retired legends – not someone who, at 31, was still in the middle of his football career.

“People want to collect the players that are important to them,” Goldin said.

Next Generation Investors

Some of the shifts, according to his theory, have to do with the recent availability of radio broadcasts and information about every professional and sports team, but there’s another phenomenon at work as well: a younger, new investor class with a love of sports and a thirst. for alternative assets.

“My industry has attracted a younger core,” he said.

This generation has come into the era of investing in an era where people can become millionaires to pick the right cryptocurrency, jump over the GameStop hype machine and stop it at the perfect moment, or score a rare Luka Dončić from the NBA Top Shot bundle. Warren Buffett’s saying about choosing companies with strong fundamentals and holding them for decades sounds as old-fashioned as the Honus Wagner card.

As with stocks, cryptocurrencies, and even NFTs, a holdings trader can gain an edge by diving deeper into the market and industry.

“You also have a bit of an aspect to this being sports betting,” Goldin said. “Instead of betting on a game, where you can’t choose the outcome, let’s say you live in Major League Baseball and you live prospective prospects, and you know it. [Tampa Bay Rays phenom] Wanderer Franco would have come to the league and be a star, you could buy his card and earn 20 to 50 times your money in a year.”

Quickly mix the potential of getting rich with the collector’s mindset that sport has long inspired by its ability to elevate pure humans into storied legends, and you can begin to understand both the short-term hype and the long-term investment potential.

Big money comes

With more money at stake, the big players enter. Goldin’s message to them: The water is fine.

“I love him,” Goldin said. “It’s one ecosystem. If Amazon comes into my space and I can make a billion dollars or something [gross merchandise value], it will only increase my business because it will increase people’s awareness. I have no worries that one of my customers will stop coming to Goldin because Amazon or eBay are around.”

Global collectibles industry forecasts generally expect impressive growth, such as Market Decipher estimating that the market is $412 billion in 2020 and will increase to $628 billion by 2031. (This number includes stamps, comic books, vintage auto parts, etc.)

But predicting the future here seems more risky than usual. The next boom could come from the metaverse and NFTs, two concepts that only entered common language in the past year. What will happen to the collectibles industry in one year? five years? next month? Your guess is as good as mine

After all, if Ken Golden can live and breathe collectibles his whole life and still miss out on selling his own business, who can say what the future holds.

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