An object that could be found in the rooms of many children growing up was a big binder of hockey cards sitting on a shelf somewhere. It brought with it a smile, as the kid would flip through the hundreds of card sleeves. Each sleeve holding nine cards or more, each one telling a different story. This classic scene from so many people’s childhood is slowly changing as time goes on.
The reason for this change is the way that the card collecting game has changed. It has changed in a number of ways. Tom Clemmer, a long time collector and seller of hockey cards, has a few different explanations as to what has happened to the hockey card market.
Tom Clemmer is from Vancouver, BC and has been selling hockey cards online since 1996. He owns and operates the website www.canadianhockeycards.com and began to sell exclusively online in 2006. He started collecting cards in the early 1970s, so it would be an understatement to say that he knows a thing or two about hockey cards.
Tom has seen the market change before his very eyes and had this to say as for why it is changing, “The quality of the card has gone up. If you think about the old Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, they were cut through a machine with wire and the wire would get dull, then they would be sold with gum. Now, the photography is better, the quality of card overall has gotten better. Now we have memorabilia and autographed cards included in the packs. So that is going to drive the prices up, as well as it being a commercial business.”
This had led to less children collecting hockey cards since the packs were too expensive. Currently, to buy a box of Upper Deck 2016-17 packs from Wal-Mart, it will cost $49.92. Upper Deck is able to sell them for this price, since there are no other companies licenced to make hockey cards.
“There had been other companies around like Pacific Trading cards and Panini, but neither of them lasted,” Tom said. “Upper Deck is the one that has remained for 27 years. That has had an impact on the rising prices.”
Despite the prices, the future is not completely bleak for hockey cards. Tom explains the reason for this, “Three years ago, I would have said that it is an aging hobby. The average age of the collector is getting older, but with the Tim Horton’s releases in Canada, it has infused a new energy and a younger collector.”
Two years ago, Tim Horton’s began collaborating with Upper Deck to begin selling their own custom hockey cards at each restaurant, and Tom believes this is the best thing that could have happened for hockey cards in Canada.
“This has gotten kids back into the hobby again. Parents go there with their kids, get their coffee and doughnuts and get hockey cards and they open them together. It’s been absolutely massive. It’s the best thing that could have happened to the card collecting hobby and business.”
Tom says that the cards that come with food are the best for the business, since they are accessible to everyone and people are more likely to buy them, since they come with food and beverage.
Tim Horton’s will certainly not save the hockey card market by themselves, but they are definitely doing their part. Hopefully, more food companies step back into the business, such as Kraft and McDonalds, to help increase the popularity even further.
Hockey cards have had such a positive impact on the childhoods of many children across Canada, and we can only hope that it is a hobby that is here to stay.