Why Trading Cards Have Become a New Addiction of Sneaker Collectors

Logic made a splash on social media in October when it announced the purchase of a box of Pokémon cards valued at $ 23,000. Though the rap superstar - also known for lace up rare and expensive sneakers - has been debated about his hefty buy, he's not alone in the card obsession.
For example, famous DJ Steve Aoki spent much of his time during the live streaming conversations with friends who are also card collectors. Aoki - a former Asics shoe ambassador - even opened an Instagram account in August to showcase his collection, and in October opened a store called Cards and Coffee in Los Angeles alongside DJ Skee and Dan Fleyshman.
Newly discovered or re-emerged obsessions like these have breathed new life into the trading card industry.
For example, StockX told FN that sales for the trading card business launched in September 2019 have increased 1,600% since January. Additionally, the average price for PSA 10 trading cards rose from $ 280 in January to $ 475 in October, a 70% increase.
"This is faster than the current growth in sneakers, but if you look at how sneakers grew at the beginning of our story, you saw that rapid increase in sales volume very similarly," Jesse Einhorn, senior economist at StockX, told FN. "We assume that this pace will continue for some time as more and more customers come into the market."
StockX - primarily a sneaker marketplace - has found that many of its sneaker shoppers also buy trading cards. For example, the company confirmed with FN that more than half of the shoppers on StockX who bought NBA star Luka Doncic tickets also bought sneakers.
"If you look at some of our best-selling trading cards like Luka Doncic cards, just over half of our card buyers have also bought sneakers from StockX, which shows a high degree of overlap between the two communities," said Einhorn.
Although the products themselves are very different, Einhorn believes there are more similarities than people would expect.
"When you think of the delivery mechanism, which is the sweepstakes model where you buy a pack and have the chance to get a really valuable card," said Einhorn, "it is similar to an SNKRS app drop or some other type of release where there is a chance of getting something of value and people lining up for a chance. "
He continued, “Another similarity is the ability to share your collection with the world. Instagram made it possible to share your sneaker collection and your favorite sneakers in the same way. The trading card collector can also present his collection via social media. "
Although data shows that the majority of consumers who buy one type of product will also buy the other, the reasons behind the rise in popularity of trading cards are all speculative.
Einhorn told FN he believed one of the reasons sneaker-obsessed people are buying tickets today is because of celebrity influence, and mentioned the activities of Logic and Aoki. And the insider's belief may be correct, as StockX has previously seen something similar in sneakers with Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner influencing the Nike SB dunk market.
StockX announced in August that within three hours of Scott sharing a photo of the look on Instagram on July 30th, 10 sales of the Nike SB Dunk Low "Newcastle" had been made, with the price of the shoe increasing 40% . According to JennX, prices for Nike SB Dunks go up between 30% and 50%.
Einhorn also mentioned major sporting events as an impact on the market. "The value of trading cards has a strong correlation with real events and the real world performance of athletes - probably more so than with sneakers," he said.
Aside from Pokémon cards, Unicorn stated that basketball - which had drawn the attention of the sports world within the NBA bubble in Florida for months - was the biggest seller.
StockX data showed that the three most recent bestselling cards on the platform include Panini Prizm Rookie Luka Doncic 2018, Panini Prizm Rookie Zion Williamson 2019, and Panini Prizm Rookie 2018 Trae Young 2018.
Also, certain tickets for two of the bubble stars - Jamal Murray and Jimmy Butler - had the biggest price increases on the site. (Jamal Murray's Panini Prizm Rookie in 2016 rose 900% and Jimmy Butler's Panini Prizm Rookie in 2012 increased 850%.)
From an overall category perspective, the average price of a PSA 10 basketball card on StockX rose from $ 340 to $ 590 between January and October. Prices peaked in August when the NBA playoffs dropped and the average price for PSA 10 basketball hit $ 840.
The recent boom in trading cards has even prompted entrepreneurs to start businesses.
"I was sitting in the car waiting for my wife. I came across a tweet from [famous jeweler] Ben Baller about [baseball star] Mike Trout cards he made," longtime sneaker collector James Platt told FN. "I started digging deep into the rabbit hole of a Ben Baller tweet and what was going on at Topps Project 2020. I just started buying tickets and a parking spot on eBay that I missed and I did thought was cool. "
He continued, “When I was buying things up, I said, 'That feels a lot like sneakers. 'And then in my head I said,' Why the hell didn't anyone make trading cards for sneakers? '”
With the new idea in mind, Platt, who has a following of 11,300 on Instagram under the name @thesneakersavant, founded a trading card store inspired by sneakers under his name The Sneaker Savant. The first collection was a nod to the sneakers late NBA legend Kobe Bryant wore on the court.
"I'm just trying to create cohesive stories with storylines that almost feel like I'm writing a book," said Platt.
Platt said the set took eight weeks to get the boxes in hand. The cards fell on his Shopify - aka Kobe Bryant Day - on Aug. 24, and he charged $ 50 for each box of 12 packs of eight cards.
"For me, [cards] were a solution because as a sneakerhead you can never have enough sneakers, but like a grown man, it's like 'What the hell am I supposed to do with all these sneakers?'" Said Platt. "I thought what a perfect way to embody the love of sneakers without having all those sneakers that you never actually wear."
He continued, “Instead of keeping a pair of shoes, I could probably keep 10,000 cards in this place. Instead of hanging 10 pairs of shoes in showcases on my wall, I can place 1,000 cards there. And these cards are things that I create myself that are still the same 10 pairs of shoes I would have hung on the wall instead. "
Like Einhorn, Platt believes the reasons people care about trading cards are seemingly endless.
Platt mentioned that similar to sneakers, the card resale market is robust and can generate significant profits. He also noted that people may be trying to win back the things they loved in their younger days.
However, Platt did mention something that Einhorn didn't: practicality.
“The physical difference between a pair of shoes and a deck of cards is palpable, cards are so much easier. I have a box of 1,000 cards that is half the size of a shoebox, ”said Platt. "I think people are realizing all of what we've accumulated and how much easier it is to open a deck of cards than a pair of shoes."
He continued, "The thing about cards that is kind of cool, too, is that they don't deteriorate like shoes. I have shoes that I'm looking at that are literally falling apart. My favorite pair of shoes in the world, I can't wear them because the soles collapsed completely. "
Practicality aside, Platt believes that trading cards offer die-hard sneaker collectors something they love and are familiar with: the thrill of the hunt.
"Sneakerheads were all about fashion and sneakers, but now it's all turned into money. I think they look at the things that made them happy as collectors," said Platt. "For me with cards, it was always that The thrill of the hunt - opening packs, tearing boxes, it's all about the hunt. Once that was gone, sneakerheads had to look for something else, something that would offer it. "
With the success of the Bryant Sneaker-inspired box, Platt confirmed with FN that more cards are in the works - two new sets, to be precise. Although Platt is silent about the stories that are being told, the next box will focus on "the hottest sneaker in the game right now". It is planned to drop before the end of the year.
As for StockX, the company today unveiled its latest trading card project.
The company has partnered with Topps to launch exclusive 2020 Bowman Chrome X trading cards. Approval takes place via DropX, the approval method for StockX direct-to-consumer products. (This is the first time StockX is doing a DropX with trading cards.)
It is limited to 1,000 boxes (starting at $ 70) and 500 boxes (starting at $ 400). Each box contains a graded prospectus or rookie card that has already been rated and rated by PSA. In the cases there are five boxes each with a rated prospectus or rookie card, which are also rated and rated by PSA.
The release will be posted on StockX.com on November 22nd at 12:00 noon. ET.
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