Taking My Hacks

The Zest to Invest

Joe Orlando

On an almost weekly basis, I get asked the ever-popular question...

"If you had some money to invest, where would you put it in this market?"

First of all, I always preface the answer by telling the person that I cannot advise them one way or another, for a multitude of reasons. While my stance on the subject is, in part, to protect the company I work for, it is also to protect the person asking the question.

The reality is that, if I had a crystal ball, I would be sipping cocktails and playing over-the-line on the beach all day long! No one can foresee the future so it really is a hard question to answer. Yes, there are staples that tend to perform well over long periods of time – items related to the larger than life names, led by the ultimate hobby icon - Babe Ruth. These are the type of items that possess long term desirability, true scarcity or broad collector appeal.

Looking at the market from year to year, many of you see exactly what I do. Sometimes, there are dramatic (and I mean dramatic) swings, especially when a particular type of item gets really hot. These are the swings that are virtually impossible to predict. What was once deadweight in a dealer's inventory can transform into liquid gold overnight if enough collectors are vying for those items at the same time.

What's interesting is that our market is really no different than any other tangibles market and very much like the real estate market. When the market gets hot, most people jump on the bandwagon. When the market softens up, consumers start to panic and become gun shy. Is there a lesson to be learned here? Yes. The market is never as good or bad for one type of collectible as the hype would indicate. I think it's best to avoid the hype and apply your own reasoning when possible.

Now it's true that logic doesn't always apply in our business. In fact, it applies less than one would think. The bottom line is that people buy what they want, when they want, resulting in serious ups and downs on certain types of material. In many cases, there is no great explanation for the surge. It is simply a result of enough collectors going after the same thing at the same time.

Getting back to the initial question... I think it is really important for people to collect what they like because that is where the real payoff is. It sounds a bit corny but it couldn't be more true. If you can go home after a long day at work and disappear into your collection and thoroughly enjoy what you have, that's a feeling that cannot be measured in dollar signs.

What's interesting to me is that, if you look at many of the most prominent collectors in the world, they all have something in common. They all genuinely enjoy the items they collect, value aside. Take it from them, collect what you like. It's an investment in you.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief