Collectors still collect even during a pandemic
May 13, 2020 11:45AM
By Greg James
West Valley resident Lynda Elmers displays an uncut sheet of basketball cards. She has collected for nearly 20 years and claims to have more than 10,000 cards. (Photo courtesy of Lynda Elmer)
Collecting sports memorabilia can become a passion for young and old alike
“When I was a kid, we collected cards to put them in our bike spokes,” West Valley resident Lynda Elmer said. “Later, I had a job as a retail buyer, and I purchased cards for stores. That is when it really started for me. Now, I probably have more than 10,000 cards.”
Picking a card in her collection as her favorite was a difficult proposition.
“I am not sure, that is a hard question,” she said. “I have a ‘56 Mickey Mantle and a couple of uncut sheets of cards that I really like. I have all of my best cards locked away in my safety deposit box.”
Sports collectibles have evolved from a hobby to a business for several local dealers. Brian Dong recently opened Finders Keepers Cards and Collectibles in West Valley City. His new store brings in all types of collectors from all over the area.
“My parents took me to a card shop when I was young,” Dong said. “I got into the hobby. I began by collecting NBA and ‘Return of the Jedi’ cards. It has always been fun stuff.”
Collectibles come in a wide range of items, including photos, cards, jerseys, helmets, balls, programs and tickets. Many of these items can be autographed or game used and can become very valuable.
“We recently had some old Jazz schedules that you used to pick up at the gas station years back,” Dong said. “I see ‘Star Wars’ toys and jerseys. Nowadays, collectors are very player based. The card companies also release special inserts or parallels. They have changed the collecting landscape.”
As expected, Utah Jazz player cards in this market command a lot of attention. Dong said Raiders, Steelers and Broncos are the most popular NFL teams. Baseball trails in popularity but still has a faithful following.
“The cost really varies and depending on how much you want to invest the cards are out there,” he said.
Beckett magazine was the best resource to assess the value of your cards, but recently eBay has surpassed it. According to a recent search, Michael Jordan cards hold five of the top seven searched cards on the site. A 2003 Limited logo Michael Jordan patch card had 48 bids selling for over $86,000
Finders Keepers has an in-store eBay-style bid board. Local collectors can display items for sale and patrons can bid on them or they have a buy it now option.
“It is like an eBay in the store,” Dong said. “We have had jerseys, framed photos, autographs and all kinds of stuff go up on the board. I sold a Sting autograph, and right now, I have a few Donovan Mitchell cards and a Larry Bird auto that can be very valuable.”
Before digging through the attic to find those valuable baseball cards, it is best to do your homework.
“I went to collectible shows and became a dealer,” Dong said. “It can be a lot of hard work to make any money. I suggest any to come down and let us look at your cards. We buy, sell and trade if the price is right. Open a pack of cards and see what is inside—that is how I got started. It is like Christmas every day.”
Elmer has passed her love of the hobby onto children and grandchildren.
“They are going to be surprised when they find my closet filled with nothing but baseball cards,” she said.