Monday, February 1, 2016

Scaling Back

As the calendar rolled over from 2015 to 2016, I had a little freak-out over the state of my collection.  I decided to take a step back and though I continued posting regularly here on the blog, I didn't purchase a single card for over three weeks.  Not a pack, not a loose single, nothing on eBay, no trips to the hobby shop, just completely stopped.  Doesn't sound like much, but when was the last time you went three weeks without a card purchase?  I'll bet it was even longer ago than you realize!

During those weeks I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want from the hobby, and from my blog.  I pretty much ran the spectrum of possibilities, from "change nothing and keep charging on" to "maybe it's time to wrap it up after nine years, and eight plus years of blogging" and just about every shade of grey in between.

In the end, at least for now, the break was a nice refresher and stepping back actually helped me to realize that I do still enjoy the hobby.  I think what was bothering me the most was that the stacks and stacks of cards I had lying around waiting to be scanned, sorted and posted were starting to feel more like a chore than a hobby.  Once you cross that line, it makes sense to find yourself asking "what am I doing here?".

My plan for this year is to scale back on the sheer amount of incoming cardboard.  Let's face it, the best part about collecting anything at all is often the thrill of the hunt; the acquisition of a prized new piece for the collection.  I don't want to deprive myself of that, I just want to be smarter about it than I was last year.  So, I've begun to dip my toes back into the water, and this weekend my first purchase in quite some time arrived in the mail:

This beautiful '54 Topps Warren Spahn set me back $19.99, the exact cost down to the penny of a blaster from a retail store.  While it may not offer the same excitement as ripping into a few packs, it gives me more pleasure in the long run for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, it's doubtful I'd have pulled any single card I'd enjoy this much from a blaster.  Secondly, and most importantly, I don't have 40-60 cards laying around after the dust settles that I don't really want or need.  For me, deciding what to do with all that excess was in large part what was making me begin to dislike the hobby I think.

So for now, this is my approach.  There are some drawbacks to it of course.  I will miss the excitement of pack ripping for sure.  I also fear that my trading activity will be reduced significantly since I won't have nearly so much unwanted cardboard lying around.  At the end of the day though, this is a change I need to make to keep the hobby enjoyable for me.  Maybe I'll feel differently in the future, but for the time being I'm set on this approach.

So there you have it, a very long-winded way of showing off my latest vintage pick-up!  I doubt you'll notice much of a difference with the blog going forward, but if you're someone I shipped dozens of trade packages or PWEs off to last year then I apologize in advance for most likely coming nowhere near that number in 2016.  Then again, the second part of this whole thing is to purge out much of the cardboard I have now that I don't appreciate as much, so maybe there won't be that big a drop-off after all...

11 comments:

lifetimetopps said...

I do think slowing down on new purchases can lead to enjoying what you have more.

Mark Kaz said...

Yup, the stacks and stacks and stack and STACKS of cards all over the place and the backlog of 'thank you' posts is most certainly a first-world problem in the hobby. I've had to take a hiatus or two from the blog over the past year for the same reason. But, in the end, after I've cleared out the cobwebs, I come back to it and enjoy it as I did before. But, yeah, it's pretty much a huge bummer to realize that your leisure-time hobby can become too much of a chore from time to time.

By the way, awesome pick-up!!

RAZ said...

That's part of the reason I have moved to mostly purchasing sets and singles rather than packs and boxes. I wind up with a much smaller pile of extra 'stuff' and have more time and space to devote to the things I actually want enough to seek out. I probably bought 8 or 9 boxes of 2014 Topps Heritage and still didn't have a full set, but I had 9 or 10 copies of some of the cards. Completing the SP portion of the set took another $70-80 in COMC and eBay orders. So that was probably about $600 spent on that one product. In 2015 I bought a full set with the SPs for something like $225-250. It felt very expensive at first, but I got exactly what I needed without wasting a few hundred extra dollars on a bunch of duplicates and inserts that I might not be able to trade away. If there were an insert or autograph I really wanted from the set I could go out and acquire it with plenty of room to spare.

I still bust a pack or box here and there, but it's a sometimes thing rather than the cornerstone of my collecting. The one thing that this method does detract from is my trade bait pile, as you mentioned. A targeted approach reduces all the extras you might accumulate to feed your trade pile, so when I build a trade package I usually have to seek things out specifically for that person or just be less active on the trading front.

night owl said...

"When was the last time you went 3 weeks without a card purchase?"

Happens repeatedly throughout the year, moneybags.

JayP said...

Great post. I find myself in the same shoes as you... just this weekend I felt overwhelmed with the stacks of cards sitting on my shelves (so did my wife, to the point where she threatened to throw it all away!) that I asked myself why I even collect.

Thankfully, I found Zistle (which I notice you have a profile yourself - my username is jrayes7of9 if you're ever interested in a trade). As someone who has organizational OCD, this may be a part of the answer to my problems!

Mark Hoyle said...

I think it's a pretty smart move on your part. As someone who never buys packs or retail of any kind I would much rather just buy the card I want. I've been collecting like this for years. Buy just what I want with no waste. I know alt of guys enjoy the thrill of ripping packs and opening blasters. It just never did it for me. You can pick up a nice vintage card like the Spahn for 20 bucks. That's well worth it to me. Even when I go to a show I will seek out a dealer who has already done the work for me and buy my team set of Redsox. I did,this over the past few years for just about every set out there. Even if I was going to collect set. Which I'm not any more. I would just buy it complete. Just seems much more feasible responsible. I just continue to dump the extra cash into vintage purchases. But then again that's what makes the hobby work everybody collects differently.

shlabotnikreport said...

With the impending release of 2016 Topps, I've been having a minor crisis myself. I don't see myself cutting out pack busting entirely, I enjoy it too much to do that.. But for reasons similar to yours I feel like I need to change *something*. I've been doing a fair amount of navel-gazing lately trying to figure out what that is. Part of me is hoping that some of the 2016 sets will push me in a certain direction.

xavier higgins said...

A Spahn in the hand is worth two Bryant autos in the bush, so to speak.

xavier higgins said...

A Spahn in the hand is worth two Bryant autos in the bush, so to speak.

Jeff Jones said...

I'd take that Spahn over a blaster anyday.

Hackenbush said...

I hear you, buddy. I'm just overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have, cards and otherwise. I'm working on it but it's not easy. I have'nt made an Ebay purchase in about 8 weeks and no packs since just after Christmas. Though I like the looks of 2016 Flagship I'll probably resist. Got to get everything under control first. I really think I'll enjoy my collection more when it's a great deal smaller and seriously more organized. All that being said, I do love the Warren Spahn, one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Great choice!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...