Taking My Hacks

Fear of the Future

Joe Orlando

I think all of us wonder about where our hobby is going. Is it going to thrive forever and ever? Is it going to die a harsh and graphic death? Are trading cards shows ever going to come back or has the Internet taken over for good? Are kids going to stop collecting altogether or will the hobby enjoy a renaissance of sorts? The questions go on and on. Some of them are a product of legitimate reasoning and others stem from simple fear of the unknown.

The question that I hear quite often resembles the following...

"When the Baby Boomer generation stops collecting, will anyone carry the torch?"

For those of us who are in this hobby for the long haul, whether it's as a collector, dealer or otherwise, this is a really important question and one that cannot be ignored. The fear is that the guys who grew up idolizing Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays are going to leave a major void in the business since no one else will, in essence, pick up where they left off. To me, while the concern is genuine, the fear borders on pure paranoia.

Here's why...

I am in my mid-30's and have been a collector all my life. As a general rule, I never had the chance to see the most of the players that provide the foundation for my collection ever play because I wasn't born yet! While it's true that some of the more sentimental items in my collection relate to players or teams I grew up watching, it is my simple appreciation for history of the sport, connecting the past to the present, and the players who set the standard at their position that drives my collecting focus.

For others, the appeal of a particular collectible can come from an entirely different place. For example, I would venture to guess that most hobbyists currently collecting T206's were not around to either watch the players featured in that set play nor could they remember opening packs of 1933 Goudeys. They may simply enjoy collecting those sets for the artwork, for their importance, for financial gain, for bragging rights – collecting drive comes from a variety of places and, as long as they enjoy it, that's really all that matters.

There are serious questions about the hobby's future, there's no question about it. I would like to see more kids participate in this hobby because I think it can provide a very positive experience for them. Today, fewer and fewer kids collect cards the way you or I did growing up. On the other hand, I see more and more people coming into the hobby during later stages in life who never did collect as youngsters to begin with. They simply needed to reach a point where they felt comfortable spending the extra money on collectibles and had the disposable income to do so.

I think we should all take it upon ourselves as hobbyists, not just dealers or businesses like PSA, to share collecting with others because increased participation will benefit everyone. There are so many people out there who don't even realize that our industry exists, that the awesome collectibles that dress high-end auction catalogues can actually be obtained. If we can share our experience with others, we can ensure that the future of this hobby is bright and the fear of the future unwarranted.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief