Trading card collecting seeing resurgence amid COVID-19 pandemic

Mid-South

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — An old hobby is making a comeback amid the coronavirus pandemic: trading and selling sports cards.

“My love is in the vintage cards,” said Joe Ruocco, owner of Rock’s Duggout in North Wichita, Kansas.

Back in 1977, Ruocco turned his hobby into a business, “We would sell a box of cards for about $18. We would make about $6 profit.” Forty-four years later, business is booming.

Ruocco noticed the uptick when NBA player Zion Williamson was drafted. However, the pandemic turned it into a comeback classic.

“Their closets would be full of cards just dormant for decades and since they had time at home, they would go in and try to work on your cards,” he said.

The demand is going up as more people pick up the hobby.

“They’re making the same amount of it but there’s so many more collectors out there. and that’s what’s pushing the price market,” said Vince Oliver, Owner of Oliver’s Sports in South Wichita.

Some cards are making a pretty penny.

“I’ve seen cards that a year ago, I sold for $1,000 or $1,200 which was really high. They’re now selling for $25,000 and $35,000,” Oliver said.

Opening up each pack brings a rush for collectors.

“It’s great to see the fire into people’s eyes as they open up and get an expensive card,” Ruocco said.

While collecting can be an investment, both owners say it doesn’t have to be.

“You could still get 25-cent cards, dime cards, dollar cards, just make it fun and organize your cards,” Ruocco said.

“I get to see these kids come in and see their faces when they, you know, they pull out a Patrick Mahomes card out of my dollar bin. They don’t care that it’s only $1 it’s their favorite player,” Oliver said.

And the resurgence goes beyond sports cards.

“The Pokémon has gone absolutely ridiculous. I found two Pokémon that were marked at $25 and $35. Well, one of them I just got back from grading it’s worth $900 now,” Oliver said.

How long will this trend last? Ruocco said it all depends on how well rookie players do.

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