Ryan Cracknell broke into the trading card industry by starting his own trading card website. Ryan started the site in 1996 simply as a way to trade, but later added news and commentary as well. Ryan has also written for Canadian Sports Collector magazine and Non-Sport Update. From 2011 to 2015 Ryan was the managing editor for Cardboard Connection. In 2015 Ryan joined Beckett as the Hobby Editor.

BU: First off, thank you for being my first interview subject! I really appreciate it!

RC: Thanks for considering me!

BU: What would you consider to be the best thing about working for Beckett, or in the trading card industry in general?

RC: Collecting cards started as a hobby. Now it’s what I get to do for a living. I can honestly say this is the first job I’ve had where I’ve never truly dreaded a day. Some days may be more fun than others, but I’ve never had a bad day since I started. I’m part of a great team. I get to work and write about cards. I learn new things every day and get to interact with wonderful people every day.

BU: When did you start collecting? How did you first get introduced to the hobby?

RC: My first card memories date back to getting a few packs of E.T. cards from the grocery store. But I was still pretty young then and mostly just looked at the pictures and chewed the gum versus actual collecting.

Next came bike rides to the corner store for some 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Hockey. I spent hours sorting them in different ways, re-sorting, and learning that there was more to the NHL than the Edmonton Oilers.

Things really kicked in a couple of years later chasing a Panini NHL sticker set. That’s when the collecting bug really got going. Not long after, several card stores opened in town and I’ve collected pretty much constantly since then.

BU: What do you collect personally? Any collecting projects you are currently working on?

RC: I collect lots of stuff, although it’s primarily focused in baseball and entertainment. Building sets was my first love, but I’m starting to run low on space. A lot of my attention right now is one some other big projects, Expos team sets and the first series of 1985 Garbage Pail Kids.

I have just about every John Jaha card out there except for some one-of-ones and really obscure cards.

Non-sport autographs also get a lot of attention in my collection.

BU: What would you consider to be the hottest thing(s) in the hobby right now?

RC: Over the past few months, any current baseball product. While Aaron Judge has been leading the charge alongside Cody Bellinger, products overall this year have been strong.

It’s still a little early, but Lonzo Ball could be big for basketball in the months ahead.

BU: I agree, this year’s baseball rookie crop has been very impressive! What are your favorite products right now?

RC: My favorite brand for the past couple of years has been Stadium Club Baseball. I love great photography and appreciate how it goes all-in with that theme.

I’ve also found myself opening 2017 Topps Chrome and Donruss Optic whenever I get a chance. I love the shiny stuff and find them both a lot of fun even when I’m not getting the greatest cards on the checklist.

BU: What is your stance on exclusive licenses (Panini – NFL, Topps – MLB, etc)?

RC: No matter what it is — cards or something else — I’m a fan of choice. I’d love it if those licenses were opened up to include at least one other company. Every company has its way of doing things, and if you’re not a fan of that style, even with tremendous choice when it comes to brand styles and price tags, you’re left cold when it comes to new products.

But the hobby isn’t as big as it once was. That means less revenue. Now the leagues and players associations seem to prefer working with one company. From a business perspective I see why it’s done. As a collector, I wish it were different.

BU: How important is social media to the current hobby?

RC: No matter the era, card collecting has been a social hobby. It started with friends meeting and trading with each other. Then it shifted to shows and then card shops. For many of us, we don’t have shows and shops close by. That makes social media extremely important in the hobby today. It’s not the only thing, but any medium or event that brings collectors together is a good thing. That may be a shop, online breaking community, Facebook group, Twitter or any other online group.

I’m a huge fan of Twitter as it lets you talk cards instantly, show what you’ve got, let people know what you’re looking for and more. And through that I’ve met many people who I regard as friends.

BU: My next question is about “the National”. I was finally able to go to my first National in 2016, and met you and at least twenty other collectors I interact with on Twitter. I had an absolute blast. How important do you think the National is to the hobby?

RC: The National is a hobby cornerstone. It’s like the Super Bowl, World Series or WrestleMania of the collecting year. And while the cards are the connecting factor, what I look forward to even more is the opportunity to see people in person.

The card collecting community is an expansive one and the National is one of the few times that brings people together and celebrate the hobby.

It’s definitely something I recommend every collector do at least once.

BU: Last question. Any advice for people just starting out collecting?

RC: Find a focus. You can’t collect everything so don’t even try. So first, identify what brings you the most joy in collecting. That may be a favorite player or team, chasing fancy stuff, building sets or whatever. There is no wrong way to collect.

By picking a focus you can work towards goals and make progress. If you’re just buying cards for the sake of buying cards, you may find the thrill of the chase wears thin. I’ve seen this many times.

Another big thing is set your budget. It’s easy to spend a lot in this hobby. But you don’t have to. Figure out how much you’re wanting to spend and don’t overextend yourself.

Finally, have fun!

BU: Thank you Ryan!