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How INFLATION Affects the Sports Memorabilia Industry & What You Can do Today to Take Advantage

June 03, 2022 6 min read

How INFLATION Affects the Sports Memorabilia Industry & What You Can do Today to Take Advantage

You see it everywhere these days, and so it's time to talk about on here as well. How does INFLATION and SUPPLY CHAIN affect the sports memorabilia industry? Also importantly, how can we turn the problems that these cause the industry into advantages we can use, because the fact of the matter is, I don't see these issues getting better in the near future. We are talking at least a couple or a few years before things even out to what they used to be.

So let's start by talking about supply.

This has been a huge part issue lately that can seem small at first, but can have actually huge issues as you scale it up. It is so hard to find even just the shipping supplies we need at an affordable cost. Let's talk about Top Loaders as an example. These are those plastic holders that you use to protect cards or photos while they are in shipment, and before the pandemic I could find 16x20 versions of these for about $2-3 a piece, usually in a pack of 10. Now, there is no way you find these for anything less than $5 each. 

So $3 more, that doesn't really sound like such a problem, right? Who cares? Well, if I'm sending out 100 items in top loaders in a month, that suddenly equals out to an extra $300 a month I have to spend on basically just shipping related costs, and of course all collectors are affected by this, and it carries down the chain then, ultimately to the final customer as we are all trying to recoup our costs. 

Put yourself in Fanatics shoes now. It's even worse! This is a huge company, sending probably hundreds of items of day or week, that means thousands of dollars for them in extra costs!

So Top Loader costs are up, and you almost cannot even find Card Saver 1s right now, which is why PSA recently made the decision to start accepting cards in Top Loaders as a shipment method, because people just cannot find these supplies at all, and if they do, the costs have gone up dramatically.

You can find some silver lining here though. If you want to get into the supplier industry, you might be able to make some decent money from it, assuming you can get your hands on these items to then sell to others, and to do that you could check out alibaba.com for huge bulk saving costs. You can get like 20,000 Top Loaders for $0.04 each plus shipping. Of course, that shipping will be on a cargo ship, so it'll still some months for you to get your hands on, plus China exports have been a bit spotty lately because of continuous lockdowns and all that sort of stuff. 

Moving on to Rawlings baseballs.

I've also been seeing a huge jump in price on these as well. You used to pay about $14 a ball when buying a dozen, and that has now bumped up to $20 per ball in a dozen. Just so you know, these are the boxed version of the balls I'm talking about. But think about that, that's about a 20% increase for autographs, on an item that is already popular for people to get. It's just crazy. I remember Walmart or some store used to have awesome deals on these for like $10, but those days are definitely gone now. So if you ever see those prices dip below $20 a ball, I would highly suggest you stock up while you can. Stock up, store the items, so you have them for signings and can maybe make some decent profit when things start to clear up here. 

You can get them a little cheaper if you get the unboxed version, at around $15 a ball in a dozen, but a lot of people like to have that box. It makes shipping really easy, and gives people piece of mind that the ball was kept in good condition, especially if it was never stored in some other kind of case.

Without a doubt though, baseball prices will not be going down. Definitely not now, and probably not ever really. All-Star and World Series balls are going up, so grab them whenever you see a decent price.

Full size helmets and baseball helmets as well!

Again, the stock on these items is just all over the place right now. I remember all the stores used to have these things constantly in stock, and if they didn't, you knew they would have stock really, really, soon. But now, goodluck. It's like one day they have stock, and then they might not for 2 weeks, or longer, who really knows?

I cannot stress this enough. If you see some items that you want, or that you think would be cool for an autograph signing in the future, you are better off getting them now, because you just cannot know if you'll get another chance later on. So speedflex helmets, blazers, even more traditional ones, grab them while you can. Stock is hard to find, and so the value has really been rising. 

Another thing are photos.

It was just about a month ago when Fanatics had to cancel and/or no longer accept orders for photos because they couldn't source the photo paper needed to print on. Imagine that, in the USA, we can't source photo paper just to do some simple printing. They mainly couldn't do 16x20's, but it's just another great example of how times are right now. 

Now, there is another company called Highland Mint out of Florida that will do a lot of bulk printing for you if you're into that sort of thing, but a lot of us only need one or two copies of a photo when we purchase them, and Highland Mint doesn't offer that service. So for that, we still need Fanatics for the individual copies. 

So there's some talk on the items and whatnot, let's tackle shipping costs.

As I'm sure you know, shipping costs have continued to go up, up, and away. Of course, we've all seen the gas prices right now. The nation average is something like $4.60 currently, so that should give you a good indication of where things are at right now. 

Now applies costs like that to our sports memorabilia industry. If I have to send 200 items from Kansas City to L.A., those higher fuel costs and whatnot trickle down to me and other customers to cover. In the past, it basically came down to about $3/item when shipping, now we are at, at least, $5, maybe more sooner or later. That can end up coming to $1,000 to get things shipped around sometimes, it's just unimaginable. 

Because of this, I've basically stopped doing any kind of express shipping through FedEx or UPS. In fact, I basically don't use them at all for shipping. It just costs way too much money. Instead, if you want the cheapest shipping methods, look into those #2 USPS priority mailing boxes. If you really stuff them full, you can save some good money going that route. Be aware though, USPS is much slower, and there often tend to be delays as well, so if you want to use USPS to send like a football to an autograph signing, I definitely recommend you do, but send it nice and early so there are almost no chance it doesn't make it in time. 

This is a bit of a sidenote, but cost increases like this affect shows and events like that as well. Just think about it. If you are a company wanting to send a couple guys across the country to a card show, along with all your items, it's insanely expensive. I just looked, and a Southwest Airlines flight was like $500 to cross the country. Now you send 2 guys and you're at $1,000. Ship a couple hundred items at like $5 an item. I mean, you can see where this goes and how the costs rack up nice and quickly. 

As I said, I don't see things changing anytime soon.

So you really need to be taken advantage of whatever sales or deals you can find. I know I've been hammering this point to death today, but it's really the only chance you have right now with the costs of products, shipping, and just the overall availability of items as well.

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