Monday, December 22, 2008

5 Predictions For Etopps In-Hands In 2009

Don't forget to vote on the right which was the best, worst and best valued autos during this football season (so far). Voting ends tomorrow night (12/23).

Here is what I think will happen next year:

1. Fewer etopps cards will be graded. It's just not worth the time and money to grade a card better than what it's being offered. With the costs that are adding up on ebay, having an etopps card graded doesn't give a better return than if you list the card quicker than those who wait for their cards to be graded. Only exception may be graded autographs.

2. More etopps cards are going to end on ebay without any bids that start under a dollar ($.99). The in-hand market on ebay is turning into a dumping ground for in-hands. With more supply, there is less demand.

3. More etopps in-hand cards will appear on other online ecommerce sites such as wigix, ioffer, wigix, and bonanzle due to the higher costs in selling etopps cards on ebay and the surge in alternatives to ebay online already.

4. For The Autograph Program, etopps will start to include a photo of player signing an etopps card when the card is being offered...why not?

5. If there is an etopps booth at the 2009 National in Cleveland, sales will be the lowest of any National done before due to the declining economy and etopps' saturation of the Cleveland National market (if you're not keeping score, this would be their third time selling there).


Todd Uncommon said...

Hi. I've been reading for a while, and I like a lot of what I've seen here, and there's been some helpful information. I imagine it's hard to come up with something fresh about eTopps after a while, beyond the regular features.

As for this post, I agree with #1, in general. I think that business will slow for grading across the board in '09, and if anyone will do it, they'll pay for the cheapie 45-day turnaround (long cycles).

Look for pretty aggressive grading specials (particularly from BGS) to try to spur some activity.

Especially with a glut of graded material nobody wants (McGwire, Bonds rookies, etc.), sale premiums for graded cards will be nonexistent for all but the most market-durable or rare specimens.

Human nature shows that people should be spending when they are saving (like a recession), and saving when they are spending (like during prosperity). It's a little late to save when you have no money.

So, much like stocks, now is the time to buy, as well as get cards graded, if you can afford it. Assuming an economic rebound, and the postponement of the end of the world, some real bargains can be had now, for sales upside later.

I think #2 and #3 may not be entirely true. The CardTarget relationship has really opened the door for the less than 99-cent eTopps card sale. As supply grows, demand does not decrease in a cause-effect relationship, though they are correlated. When a good is desired, and supply is tight, prices go up, not demand directly, though hype or promotion may increase the trend.

For example, there are plenty of 1/1's out there that get no love or premium at all, though supply couldn't be tighter.

Although everyone complains about eBay, and I am no zealot, I am unconvinced that alternatives are anything but small-time at this point, though they are tilting at the eBay windmill admirably.

I think that there will be fewer cheap eTopps auctions on eBay altogether, but due to CardTarget allowing eTopps die-hards to convert their chump change cards into funds on CardTarget to get better cards.

I'd like #4 to happen. In fact, the relative cost of getting *your* serial-numbered card photographed as it is being signed is negligible. That would be a sweet bonus when buying and autographed card from eTopps.

As for #5, 2009 may be a record disaster for the trade show industry as a whole. It is a near certainty the National will contract--the question is by how much. COMDEX was just an early casualty, MacWorld will go on in January without the company that gives it purpose (last show ever?), and somewhat indicative elsewhere, the Arena league is on hold this year (though af2 is apparently still going to have a season).

I've seen some articles lately supposing that the card industry is possibly recession-proof. That may be, but only because the card market has been depressed on its own in advance for several years now. The videogame biz seems to be vastly more recession-durable than sports cards, in comparison. We shall see how The National survives, and how eTopps will fit into that picture.

No Brainer Bargains said...

Another good post, Todd. I think you're right that there will be deep discounts on BGS grading fees. Though I doubt this type of carrot will be worthwhile since the market is the horse and their grading service is the cart.

You are correct that ebay has the most eyeballs but their competition is catching up. Bonanzle has more than a million listings now and Amazon is more seller-friendly that ever before.

Unless ebay adjusts based on their competition, it's only a matter of time before bigger bites are taken out of their membership.