10 New Year's Resolutions for Sports Card Collectors

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Sports Card Collectors

Trading card collections are like anything else--they can always be improved. The new year is a perfect excuse to reflect on your collection and collecting habits and see how you can make things better. However, unlike struggling with a piece of pricey exercise equipment that will be used a couple of times before being banished to the basement to a sentence of ten years of dust, New Year's Resolutions can be fun. By setting a few goals, you will have a more focused and organized collection that's easy to enjoy and get excited about.

Steps to a Successful New Year's Resolution

To make sure your resolution is successful, start with a goal. What is it you want to achieve? What does success look like? From there, make a plan. How are you going to make your resolution a success? It might help to write it down. Then, put the plan into action. It's time to make things happen. After you get started, reflect on what's working with your resolution and if anything could be improved. Make adjustments and carry on.

New Year's Resolution Suggestions for Card Collectors

Below are ten New Year's resolutions specific to card collectors. All are realistic and meant to help you have more fun collecting in the months ahead. Like anything, limit your goals to something realistic. Also, don't take on too much. Remember, card collecting is meant to be a pastime, not a source of stress.

Finish a Set

set 217x300 ImageWe've likely all got them--half-finished base sets wasting away in a box. There are too few cards to dig through them again and too many to simply trade away or pass on to someone else. It's time to get those cards organized and complete the set. You might be surprised how easy it is, even if you don't have a local hobby shop.

Start by making a wantlist. Thumb through the cards you do have and write down the ones you're missing. Take that list to a show, shop or share it with your collecting friends. If you still have holes, there are plenty of collector blogs dedicated to trading. And if that doesn't work, more and more dealers are moving their inventories online.

With a little focus and a sense of urgency, that half-finished set will be complete before you know it.

Branch Out Your Collection

Many of us get set in our collecting ways. It might center on autographs or rookies. Maybe you limit yourself to a specific player, team or sport. If this is you and things are starting to feel a little stale, perhaps it's time to branch out. There are plenty of collecting corners to explore.

Perhaps you can start collecting hometown players or people who went to your alma mater. Build a vintage set from your birth year in a sport you normally ignore. For a greater challenge, focus on rookie cards of athletes who share the same birthday as you. To create a real hunt, hit on an obscure theme like cards showing players signing autographs or cards with players and their kids.

The options here really are endless. Simply reflect on your habits and see how you can make them a bit bigger. Stick with your interests or take your non-collecting interests and see how to give them a hobby spin.

Get Rid of Some Unwanted Cards

Are you running out of space? Is your stack of monster boxes starting to lean? Maybe it's time for a bit of a card purge. Unless you only buy singles, chances are you've got unwanted cards taking up space. Why not get rid of them?

If these cards have value, sell them. Set up a table at a card show and price them aggressively. Every card sold is one less you have to store.  Make a bulk listing on Craigslist and free up a lot of space all in one go. Donate them to a local charity and bring smiles to kids who might not be able to collect. Set up a simple blog and get trading.

There's no excuse for having excess cards cluttering up your home. Move them on and you'll be amazed at the new-found space. If your spouse is anything like mine, they'll be a little happier too.

Write a Letter to a Card Manufacturer

letter 260x263 ImageDo you have a favorite manufacturer you're loyal to? Is there one you avoid no matter what? At some point this year, write them a letter and give them some feedback.

Although you may not agree with all their marketing methods or like the products they produce, the manufacturers are all striving to do their best. Why? A happy collector is one that spends money. Without feedback, good or bad, it's hard for a company to improve. They may not recognize an issue until it's pointed out.

Likewise, positive feedback let's them celebrate what they're doing right. Not only will it make someone feel good, but it will help them focus their attention on the things that need improvement.

If you do find yourself writing a letter filled with snark and complaints, offer some possible solutions. Although they might not be able to implement them exactly to your liking, it's still valuable feedback that could springboard into something doable.

It's important to mail in a physical letter. Emails are easily overlooked and forgotten. Phone calls allow you to speak with someone, but they might not be able to relay that message to the proper person. Mailing addresses can be found on company websites. If you can't find it, shoot me an email (linked at the end of the article) and I'll be happy to help.

Look for Alternate Card Sources

With so few hobby shops today, many collectors are limited to the latest releases found in the card aisle of their local Walmart or Target. With a little work, there's plenty other places to find cards. Check out local online classified ads on Craigslist or something similar. Flea markets aren't all rusty tools and wicker Barbie furniture. Often you'll find someone with a box or two of cards. Although few moms toss out cards anymore, plenty are more than willing sell their kids' collections at a summer garage sale.

Looking for new card sources is a lot of fun, even if it's not always successful. It adds to the hunt, an integral part of collecting.

Bust a Box of Something New

Brand loyalty is a good thing. Most of us have specific sets we look forward to every year. However, if you're always sampling the same thing, you're probably missing out on great things going on in other parts of the hobby.

Consider busting something different this year, even if it's only a blaster box. We update product information daily and update our new release calendar at least once a week. With the dozens of sets likely to come out in the next 12 months, something's bound to come along that piques your interest that you normally wouldn't buy.

The worst that can happen is that you reaffirm your love for the brands you follow and have some trade bait for cards you do want. Or maybe you'll step outside your collecting comfort zone and find something new to chase.

Read a Hobby Book

It's always good to hone up on the hobby and learn a little more. There are plenty of books out there to help you do this. And they're not all dry, either. We've compiled a list of ten essential sports card books to get you started.

Study Card Backs

1965 Topps Baseball Back 260x183 ImageCards are double-sided collectibles. It's amazing how easy it is to forget this. Although some sets seem to forget this as well, there are plenty of others that have a ton of information, stats and quirks. Done well, they're like art. Don't believe me? Check out the highs and lows of Topps baseball card backs over the years.

Sit down one evening every month or two and get to know the other side of your cards. You'll be amazed at the tidbits you learn and appreciate the art of making cards a little more. Plus, simply by looking through your cards with a purpose, you'll appreciate them that much more.

Go to a Card Show

Once upon a time, card shows were like fast food joints. They were everywhere, even when you didn't want them to be. Although the number of shows has waned in recent years, there are still plenty of them out there. Big or small, they're filled with collectors much like yourself.

Go out of your way to find a card show this year. Head on down with an updated wantlist or some goals in mind, browse through the tables, chat with dealers and buyers and get connected with the local collecting community a little more.

This one resolution could help you achieve many others. Looking over this list, going to shows can help fill sets, get rid of unwanted cards and offer a different kind of box to bust. Quarter bins are also great for flipping through cards to find random themes some collectors might target.

Organize Your Collection

This is a big one for any collector. A disorganized collection is one that can't be enjoyed as much as one that's filed away nicely. Card clutter adds stress and, if left unchecked, can lead to some wanting to leave the hobby. Keeping your card collection organized and tidy helps your collecting goals remain clear. Although organization means different things to different people, we have an in-depth guide using one tested method.

None of us would be collecting if we didn't enjoy it. But that doesn't mean we can't improve our collections. Agree with the concept of New Year's resolutions or not, they do offer a great starting point to make your card collecting habits better.

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Ryan Cracknell

E-Mail Author | 
Ryan's collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection. Ryan can be found on Twitter @tradercracks and Google+.

User Comments

  1. HOCKEY: George Owen Jr. card, (Football, Baseball, Hockey) at Harvard (1919-1924), the Boston Unicorns (1924-1925 maybe to 1927?) or the Boston Bruins (1928-1933)?

    Hello.

    I might have contacted you previously about Owen’s 1952 (Globe Printing) Ventura Braves Baseball card but this has just crossed my desk.

    I am now looking for a George Owen II card too, (Football, Baseball, Hockey at Harvard 1919-1924) or his amateur days on the Boston Unicorns (1924-1925 maybe to 1927?) or during his days with the Boston Bruins (1928-1933)?

    Can you tell me if my info is correct and if any cards were made? Any guidance would be most helpful and if you could post this on your Hockey site, that would be great too.

    As you might know, his son Owen III just had his 86th birthday at the end of Oct and no, I haven’t given up hope on finding his 1952 (Globe Printing) Ventura Braves card but I had an idea to present this to Owen III as well.

    Make it a great day and I hope to hear from you soon.

    Thanks again,

    William Harp

  2. Another tip: avoid self-important bloggers who think they are the almighty voice of the hobby but who have a blog for the sole purpose of making money through thinly veiled affiliate links.

  3. Fantastic info that I was looking for. In Palm Beach County Florida there were shows every other weeked, Lots of hobby shops. I help a guy get cases when Sam’s club was new, they don’t sell cards anymore, and my commishion was boxes of cards. My wife and son help me open thousands of packs!!!!
    Today there isn’t one sport hobby shop in the county!
    My goal one day is to fill that void! :)

  4. Sorry forgot the spell check, lol

  5. Chris, what kind of a New Years tip is that? If a blog is good, they deserve to make money for the work they put into it Because there is a LOT of time and energy involved even in a 1 man blog. Dismissing a blogger just because they want to make money from their hard work would be like cursing Sports Illustrated for displaying ads in their magazine. If the blog has compelling content that people respond to, then they should be compensated for their work. If however, they do nothing but spam ads and write shallow content with little value, then I agree that it’s best to stay clear of them.

    But if you enjoy the blog, don’t hold ads against them as that is what drives them to continue blogging.

  6. Enjoying the backs of cards is a great suggestion. I’ve been going through some late ’80s Donruss cards where they tell the exact trade that brought a guy to a team, and also give the player’s full name. Pretty neat.

    Although this is at the expense many years of stats for some of the long-tenured guys, which is one of the cool parts of Topps card backs: Seeing a guy like Yaz in his late career and how Topps crammed all those year logs into such a small space but still keeps it readable.

  7. Nice… I collect only football cards now. I have some baseball,high -end basketball and hockey cards I would love to sell and/or trade. I don’t have an e-bay account yet but in the mean-time do you know any good blogs or message boards that you reccomend? ? ?
    thanks.
    I like the resolutions

  8. Jeff Schwind » The Cardboard Connection forum has a ton of great collectors. As for blogs, here’s a handy list: http://bdj610scblogroll.blogspot.com

    Our daily Card Beat post also highlights some of the posts we see that we find interesting.

  9. MY TIP: If you live in a small apartment or house and don’t have enough room to make a “man cave” or what i like to call my hobby room. you can either use a furnished attic or what i did was convert my walk-in closet into my hobby room. It took some time and money setting up but it came out awesome. I have some shelves and two small tables and just enough room and storage to manage my collection put together sets and blast boxes. It took allot of improvising, and the right lighting to set up in such a small space but I feel allot more comfortable with my collection. As for the decor thats the easy part *memorabilia*

  10. My tip is to pay more attention to where you purchase your cards.

    Is the internet dumper helping the hobby or perhaps leading to more counties not having a LCS?

    Is that same dumper offering you weekly drawings or monthly trade nights?

    Are you really saving $ after shipping charges and also not being the first to list your cards on ebay?

    Why not share some of the ideas that you see other shops employing with your own LCS? It might serve to improve that store and also give you the opportunity to make your own LCS that much more fun.

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