Trading card boom is felt even in Rochester’s ‘The Yankee Clipper’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — According to CNN Business, the increase of value in trading cards is described as a “shock sale.”

Prices for trading cards everywhere are skyrocketing, including at Rochester’s own The Yankee Clipper, a trading card, toy, and memorabilia shop in Village Gate.

Tom Caulkins, the owner of nearly 40 years, currently has entire packs of cards selling for hundreds of dollars.

Some special cards, like a signed Josh Allen rookie card for $300, or a Kobe Bryant card — wearing No. 8 — for a cool $1,000.

Other hot items include rookie cards; Caulkins says that strong rookie classes in football and basketball have made for some sought after cards. He pointed out that a card of New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson was an especially hot item.

Not soon after those cards were shown, Caulkins breaks out a box of Pokemon cards packs, selling for over $100.

Caulkins says that his business has changed quite a bit since he opened, and puts into perspective what a massive boom in the market this is.

“My first day in Village Gate I made a sum total of ten cents,” he said. “In the late 80s and early 90s, it was extremely hot, but now the card market is hotter now then it was back then. Unbelievable.”

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He says that this boom is due to many things: People have been stuck at home and need a hobby, and collecting of any kind is very active right now. He also say that it’s another wave of nostalgia; parents who bought from Caulkins decades ago, are now bringing their kids to The Yankee Clipper.

It’s reminiscent of the recent GameStop stock saga. Small groups of people buy massive amount of card boxes, sell specific cards, and people buy cards as investments.

These investors and flippers are more interested in buying boxes and packs of new cards to find a handful of valuable ones. Caulkins calls these people “breakers,” as they buy large amounts of packs and boxes, break them open, and sell specific cards.

“Some people even just buy the boxes,” he says. “They go to Walmart … People are going there, waiting overnight, waiting in line to buy the boxes as soon as they come in, put them on eBay, and they double or triple their money.”

According to Caulkins, this goes even beyond small-time flippers and breakers. He says stock brokers are buying, as well as professional athletes.

Thankfully for Caulkins, a small business owner, he says that some of this business is also coming his way. Not only are his usual customers buying more, he’s seeing an influx of new customers.

He does, however, have a couple warnings regarding the recent surge of buying.

“It’s good for me, it’s good for investors, but it’s bad for the collectors like me because they have kids out there who can’t afford Walmart, so you got a guy like me that’s trying to help out the kids, get them a cheaper price, trying to get them stuff that they want to buy,” he says. “The older, more savvy collectors are paying a lot more for the stuff that they want to buy … It’s starting to affect that market. People are starting to quit because they can’t afford it anymore.

“It’s of concern to me, because I’m a collector also,” he said. “I have a good time at this, I enjoy my customers. But the trouble is, if I lose these customers, that’s my business.

“They are people in this hobby, that aren’t good for the hobby,” he said, referring to “breakers.” “They make a ton of money. They don’t care about the hobby, they don’t care about sports, these are bad people. I would highly recommend to not sell with these people.”

And of course, he worries about the bubble bursting.

“The price can go down as fast as it went up.”

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