There are many places to find cards and memorabilia to add to your collection. You can buy online, at card shops, at shows and at retail stores. Another place to find items (which I have yet to try) is through some of the “yard sale” apps such as Letgo or OfferUp. Richard Hardy has seen some early success using these apps, and has some tips to share so maybe you can find some great deals as well!
BU: Can you give us a little background on you?
RH: My name is Richard Hardy, I’m originally from Uniontown, Pennsylvania but currently reside in Clementon, New Jersey. I’ve been collecting in earnest since 2012, and have yet to slow down. I run an eBay store, sell on consignment here and there, and love to build vintage sets for myself. I also enjoy gaming, reading various styles of books, and writing.
BU: How were you introduced to the trading card & memorabilia hobby?
RH: I found my way into the hobby around the age of eleven or twelve, by way of flea markets. Where I used to live, there were a few locations that my parents, sister and I loved going to. Due to my fascination with the sport of football, my mother and father introduced me to sports cards. The first card I remember owning was a Hines Ward rookie featuring him wearing number 15, which blew my mind as I only ever knew him as number 86. After a few Steelers cards, I was given my first pack to rip, good ol’ 2009 Donruss Gridiron Gear. I was lucky enough to not only pull a relic card, but have it be a Steelers player! Inside my pack was a Limas Sweed Player Timeline relic /250.
Unfortunately, I didn’t add much to my collection for a period of time and nearly fell out of the hobby until 2012 rolled around, which was the hardest year of my life. I suffered a terrible head injury and slipped into a depressed state. However, my mother did what any great mom does, and tried her best to cheer me up. Sure enough, she got me interested in cards again at that point, giving me a little happiness in a sea of darkness. When I found myself severely depressed (would rather not dive into the details) I had my best pull from retail ever, which helped me start recovery. To this day, I still own the card, and since that point I have yet to slow down on collecting.
BU: What do you currently collect? Any favorite pieces from your collection you’d like to share?
RH: Currently, I collect a multitude of items, from cards to memorabilia. I tend to lean heavily towards vintage football cards, however, as I’d love to build as many sets from 1948 forward as possible. I also have a large collection of Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates cards that I enjoy adding to, along with various other cards that strike my fancy. Memorabilia is a newer endeavor of mine, with me adding a little each year. I have so many favorite items, but I’d say my top three, in no particular order, are likely the aforementioned retail hit which was a 2012 Topps Strata Russell Wilson Clear Cut Rookie Autograph Relic (Gold Parallel) /99. I pulled it 01-05-2013 and had it graded the first year I went to the National Sports Collector’s Convention in 2014. Next up would be my signed Tristar authentic Tom Brady jersey, which I won through Tristar’s redemption program at NSCC in 2014. My final favorite would have to be my 500 homerun club signed baseball that I received from the 2015 Heritage Auctions Vintage Break at NSCC, which I was blessed enough to win a spot in.
BU: You recently started having success buying cards & memorabilia from a couple of selling apps, what can you tell us about that?
RH: Yes I have! I was lucky enough to be introduced to apps such as Letgo and OfferUp by a great Twitter friend of mine, @PhillyOutLoud. Upon hearing his success stories with these outlets, I had to give it a go myself. Consider it like attending a yard sale through your phone, you could find almost anything if you look hard enough! There are quite a few other apps to look into, plus Facebook’s Marketplace feature. Just have to find the ones you like the most, and then explore.
BU: What have been some of your best finds from the apps so far?
RH: Honestly, I’ve had quite a few shocking finds so far. My top find came through Letgo, where I found an individual selling a 2000 Tom Brady Bowman Chrome rookie and an Aaron Rodgers 2005 Upper Deck rookie autograph! I was able to negotiate a steal of a deal of $275 for both of them, which is far under market price. Next up, I found an individual looking to trade for a Tom Brady rookie, so I traded him my spare raw Bowman paper for a 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout PSA 9 rookie, a trade that favored me in my opinion. My most recent big score is my cheapest yet! I found an individual who was moving, so he wanted to get rid of the cards he had inherited from his father. He posted them in the “free” section, so I was able to grab three totes, multiple boxes and a few binders for absolutely nothing. I found various vintage Willie Mays cards, countless star inserts, and a very rare Mickey Mantle pin from the 1950s so far, with a bit more sorting to do!
BU: Any tips for people who would like to find some good deals this way?
RH: My number one suggestion is search with an open mind. People who are looking to move items have a habit of undervaluing them, so don’t assume it’s too good of a deal right off the bat. Make sure you do plenty of research on items you’re interested in, that way you go in with enough knowledge to avoid surprises. I myself am still learning and evolving when it comes to finding deals on these outlets, but I wrote a guide on what I’ve learned so far here.
BU: What is your opinion on the current hobby?
RH: It seems to me that the hobby has been growing over the past couple years, which is fantastic. I feel the individuals who were scared away with the “junk wax” era have started to return to the hobby. The vintage market has been steadily rising the past decade, and memorabilia seems to be on an upswing in popularity. Overall, it seems like the current rate of growth will continue, as a new generation of collectors are introduced by their families/friends.
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BU: Anything you would like to see changed?
RH: It likely sounds cliché, but I’d love to see exclusive licenses disappear. I enjoy the look of Upper Deck basketball, Topps football, and Panini Baseball. I have a healthy respect for each of the three companies, so I’d love to see them each have the freedom to dabble in any sport yet again. I realize this is likely not going to happen, but a guy can dream, right?
BU: What would you say is your favorite part of the hobby we all share?
RH: It’s tough to pinpoint any one thing, but as a whole I love the way collectors interact with each other. Whether it’s at NSCC, a local shop, or through the internet, collectors are great at embracing others. Sure, people clash at times, but overall it’s as if we’re all one big family. I find the ability to learn and grow, using with the influence of others within the hobby, to be a thrilling experience.
BU: Anything else you’d like to share?
RH: Anyone out there who decides to start using the apps to find deals, I wish you luck! Please be sure to approach every transaction safely, between the communication and eventual meet-up.
In regards to collecting as a whole, try not to take the hobby serious to the point that you lose interest. With today’s hit-driven products, I’ve seen too many people exit the hobby because they aren’t getting enough value from it. At the end of the day, you should pursue what makes YOU happy to avoid headaches. If you enjoy ripping packs, do it for the thrill of the open rather than having the expectation of getting your money’s worth. If you are happy chasing dime-box inserts, have at it! Everyone collects differently, never diminish your method. The hobby is as fun as you let it be; you are the one in charge of your fun.