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July 10, 2022

Luckiest Man Sports Card Shop: Everything Old Is New Again

This month, we are highlighting a new business in Clay County – The Luckiest Man Sports Card Shop. Located at 179 College Dr Ste. 14 in Orange Park, you can also visit them online at www.luckiestmansc.com 

Today’s blog was written by Luckiest Man Sports Card Store co-owner Alyssa Gehrig. Take time to get to know this small business and support owners John and Alyssa Gehrig as our new neighbors in Clay County!

Luckiest Man Sports Card Shop

Being a card store that’s only had the ‘OPEN’ sign lit up officially for two months now has brought forth a lot of the same questions. We have seen customers from the ages of 3 to 80 already and they all share the same love of the hobby that we do. Some people have just come to see the store and are in awe of how far the hobby has come since the days where they used to buy packs for fifteen cents after school.

What was cool for kids thirty years ago and thirty years before that is cooler than ever now. Some people have very simple questions to answer like “I never noticed you were here, when did you open?!” (May 2nd), “I don’t mean to sound rude, but do you know anything about cards?” (yes, there are some women in this hobby and we rock, thank you very much!).

Some questions we can spend the next five hours debating together while we rip packs of cards and chase the next “can’t miss” hot prospect autograph of a kid who would be our target demographic if they weren’t out on the ball field.

I’ll try to answer some of the more common ones for you:

“I have boxes of cards at home, are they worth anything?”

We probably get ten of these phone calls to one of any other inquiry. This is a hard answer. I’m always going to tell you to bring them in so we can search through them and we will find out together. If you found a bucket in the garage that was a makeshift ashtray for the last seven years of its life and there’s a few cards of Steve Sax standing in front of an MVP banner floating around in the bottom, you’re welcome to throw them away. If you have bricks of cards that are crumbling apart and the only thing keeping them together is mold, you’re safe to use them in your next bonfire. If you’ve been meticulously storing them in binders and shoe boxes for the last 30 years, that is when things get interesting.

There are lots of cards that your grandparents will tell you about putting in their bicycle spokes and lots of high-end modern cards that we could trade in for a new car. However, a lot of us started collecting in the late 80’s or early 90’s at the height of what was known as the junk wax era and these are the cards that most of us know and love and also the solid majority of what we see. These cards aren’t usually worth the paper they’re printed on unless they’re perfect and they’re superstars or error cards. Then if they’re perfect they’re worth a dollar or two unless you have them professionally graded (more on that later). Everyone has already picked out the ’89 Griffey Upper Deck rookie cards from the collections you’ve found before they passed them down to the 90’s and 2000’s kids that wouldn’t know Gary Carter apart from Jimmy Carter. But in the years since these have changed hands and been forgotten about, people didn’t know there’s a rekindled fire for the Billy Ripken card with profanity on the bat knob or the random Mike Piazza or Jose Canseco rookie cards that now have a whole legion of collectors looking for just their cards.

This is what makes junk wax fun. You can pick up your favorite players for next to nothing just like how you could buy cryptocurrency once upon a time and as they do start to dry up your cards start to grow in value just like the ones forty years before them did as long as you keep these in good shape. If you come buy a couple of packs of penny sleeves and top loaders you can sort through your collection and bridge the gap with your children and protect your Tony Gwynn cards and teach them about the greatest hitter of our lifetime and you’re into your weekend of family time for five bucks. That’s exactly why we keep boxes of these cards in the store for people to dig through for free in hopes that we can make these conversations between children and parents again.

“How much are my cards worth?”

This is an answer that has changed a lot and will change every day. Your cards are worth whatever the market will pay for them. The days of Beckett magazines telling you that your Tom Brady insert is worth four dollars are long gone. If someone is asking $100 for it on eBay but the last 7 haven’t sold for more than a dollar, it’s a dollar card at the end of the day no matter how much you want to hope you were sitting on an easy payday. If your four-dollar card is worth fifty graded as a perfect 10 on there, you still have a four-dollar card no matter how perfect it may look to you and I both until you have yours graded because at the end of the day our opinions don’t matter. But don’t lose hope on your four dollar card. When he hangs up the cleats that may become a fifteen or fifty dollar card overnight.

Good and bad games, injuries, documentaries, trades, deaths and retirements all change the value of any given card or player as quickly as the stock market fluctuates. Knowing when to buy and when to sell is the hardest part of the game. 

We never want to insult you when you’re looking to sell, trade or consign cards but we want you to be informed as to why we give you the values that we do.

“What is grading and why should I grade my cards?”

All of these fancy cards you see in our display cases in their hard plastic slabs are professionally graded by an outside company that magnifies them and looks for any imperfections on shape, color, surface, edges, bends, creases and centering. There are three large, reputable companies that do the great majority of the grading and a bunch of smaller companies that haven’t built a reputation quite yet. We do group submissions at a discounted rate with SGC grading (one of the big three) every few weeks for both ourselves and our customers to be able to utilize this service with an average of a three week turnaround time. I’ll tell you that if a card is valuable enough, grading is a no brainer. Some people are afraid to grade older cards in fear of getting a low grade. Not everything is going to be a perfect 10 and that’s okay. If you have an old Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron or Jackie Robinson it can grade a 1 and still be worth significantly more than it would be if you sold it raw.

Grading also serves as an authentication service to prevent you from buying or selling counterfeit cards which is the most important thing on vintage cards. Some cards you have to consider if it’s worth investing a grading fee into them. Unless you collect a certain player, it’s not worth a $26 investment in a $2 card. But if you invest $26 into a $100 card and it comes back as a perfect 10, all of a sudden you have a $300 card and it all makes sense then.

“What should I buy?”

Buy what you enjoy. Don’t let me talk you out of that. While boxes at the hobby shops are more expensive than the ones at your local big box store, hobby boxes are also designed to have bigger, better and more autographs and jersey cards in your boxes in return. We will always be your voice of reason on buying product X or product Y, but if Pokemon is your jam, so be it, don’t buy basketball because you’re trying to hit a million dollar card. Treat card collecting the same as you treat gambling, if you get out of your comfort zone financially trying to get rich on cards there’s a one in a million chance that it will actually pay off.

We want to be able to cater to thirty-dollar boxes for the entry level collectors and the five hundred dollar cards for the investors out there at the same time because that’s what this hobby should be about. We don’t ever want to alienate the people who do this for the fun because these are the people who will still be collecting long after the people who are trying to do it for the quick dollar move on to the next trendy way to try making easy money.

“Why did you open a store here?”

Luckiest Man Sports Card Shop

At the end of the day we are here to have fun and strengthen our community and the families in it.

We opened a store because we too live in Clay County and we didn’t feel like the other people here needed to drive thirty minutes to find a pack of cards to rip either. The joy we get to see in the family who is buying their dad the Snoop Dogg rookie card that he’s been eyeballing for weeks as his Father’s Day surprise or the little kid shaking when he pulls a huge autograph or ultra rare Pokemon from a box of cards is what we do this for. 

We encourage you to rip your cards in the store with us so we can show off the cards you’re going to hold on to for the next fifty years and teach you how to care for them and sleeve them properly so they don’t get damaged. If you want to send them straight off to grading, we can handle that too. We are here to be the hobby shop you’ll tell your kids about one day just as your parents told you about spending their allowance money at once upon a time.

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