Taking My Hacks
The Hobby and COVID-19
Forces of Nature Collide
Before we go any further, I hope you and your loved ones are safe during this unprecedented situation. While I recognize the chain reaction of problems COVID-19 has caused is long reaching, affecting millions of people in different ways, the most important thing is the health of the people closest to us. Perspective is important, and we all understand that collecting takes a back seat right now.
There is something about the hobby that allows it to persevere during challenging times like these. It is counterintuitive on some level, but our industry seems to power through societal obstacles in a way that few businesses can. The collectibles industry does not provide food, water, medicine or shelter, so the overarching question is, why?
Let’s face it. Every crisis presents its own set of challenges and this one is no different. One of my collector friends described this as a plague coupled with a recession. That sounds about right. It’s hard for any of us to describe what we are experiencing or feeling right now because this, in many ways, is a new kind of struggle. This one might be different than the hurdles that came before it, but if past behavior is any indicator of future behavior, the hobby will come through just fine.
After 9/11, the hobby survived. After the financial crisis of 2008, the hobby survived. In fact, one could argue that the hobby thrived during those times, at least in relation to other markets. In the aftermath of those events, the stock and real estate markets suffered a far worse fate than anything we saw in the collectibles field. So, let’s return to the initial question. Why is the hobby so resilient?
The world that we live in, the collectibles world, is driven by a combination of things. These factors make the items we all pursue appealing in ways that others simply aren’t. First and foremost, there is an element of nostalgia, emotion, passion and sentimental value that is absent in other markets. People buy stocks to make money, and that’s it. There’s nothing more to it. Collectibles are different.
There’s no denying the financial component of collecting, especially at the high end of the market, but in the majority of cases, it’s not the ONLY consideration or appealing attribute. There’s a cool factor ... a fun factor that is hard to measure, yet it helps solidify the foundation of the collectibles market itself. People, at least some, WANT collectibles in a way that they would never desire a share of stock, no matter what company that stock is associated with.
Furthermore, tangibles tend to get even more attractive during volatile economic periods. There’s a flexibility that tangibles offer. They can be bought, sold and traded more easily than other kinds of assets, such as real estate. Tangibles also offer greater personal control over the asset itself. It’s yours to handle as you see fit. You can touch it and feel it, which may sound inconsequential but there’s a degree of comfort that comes with that. If you are holding a gold coin, a Michael Jordan rookie card or a Babe Ruth signed ball in your hands, the asset is as real as it gets.
Last but not least, you hear people joke about the collecting gene all the time, but it exists. People don’t stop doing what they love to do, even in times like this. That internal drive doesn’t just go away. It may be tempered for some due to financial strain, but it usually doesn’t come to a grinding halt either. It’s how we are wired. It’s what we do. It’s why, in part, we get up in the morning. Collectors will not stop living the life they chose through the endeavor they love.
Things may get a lot worse before they get better, but it will pass, and the force of nature known to us as “The Hobby” isn’t going anywhere. It is a force to be reckoned with.
Be safe, be well and be you.
Never get cheated,
President & CEO
Collectors Universe, Inc.