Taking My Hacks

Giving Back Moves the Hobby Forward

Joe Orlando

Our hobby, like most others, is a pastime that countless people enjoy. Those people come in all shapes and sizes, with different backgrounds and interests, which is part of what makes the hobby fun. There are collectors, dealers, auction houses, manufacturers, and third-party services like PSA. Some are here for the pleasure while others are here for the business. No matter what, it is important to contribute something while you're here and before you leave.

So, why is it important to give back to the hobby?

In my opinion, leaving something in a better state than it was when you arrived matters. It matters to the current state of the hobby and to the future development of our markets. Even if you think about it from a selfish standpoint, wouldn't you want the hobby to be more vibrant when you exit than when you started? That means the market is strong, and when it comes time to part with your collection, the transition will be much easier and probably more lucrative.

Too often, collectors keep to themselves. They keep their specialized knowledge locked up inside their minds and protect it like it's the secret code for the nukes. I am a collector. I understand, at least to some degree, when collectors want to keep the perceived advantages to themselves. If you have spent hours, days, months, or years learning about something, it can be hard to simply give the information away. I get it, but there does come a point when the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Yes, I just quoted Spock from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ... a very entertaining movie by the way. I digress...

I am not one that believes everything is better today, especially as it relates to social media and the Internet; however, there are some really good things happening in this area. There are valuable discussions taking place on hobby message boards. You just have to ignore the "burn them at the stake" attitudes on some boards and get past the incessant negativity on others. Aside from that, there are some in-depth chats taking place and enlightening blogs being written. This can help educate existing collectors or attract new ones.

In addition to collectors unlocking their knowledge banks, businesses should be held to the same, if not a higher, standard. You must ask yourself which companies attempt to contribute to the long-term health of the industry and which ones are here for the short-term money grab. Let's face it, all businesses in our hobby are here to make money. PSA is no different, but that isn't the problem. We need more companies to make real efforts to give back, whether that comes in the form of positive marketing, collecting tools, resources, education, or content.

If a company does something to make the hobby better or more fun, especially when it isn't tied directly to the immediate dollar, then that business is helping make our industry better. I think most collectors would be shocked at how few companies in our space make a serious effort. More overall participation results in more money for most businesses. In other words, I would rather double the size of the market than simply take a slightly higher percentage of what currently exists from a rival. Alright, as a competitive businessman, I want both, but quality businesses will naturally get their expected share if the market grows. That is the most important goal.

All I would ask of the collectors out there is to open your minds to sharing what you know with others, but don't stop there. Ask yourself if the businesses you support are those you feel are giving back, helping to ensure our endeavor is an even better one for the next generation and beyond.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
PSA President