WHO IS BUYING BASEBALL CARDS

There has been a resurgence in the popularity of baseball card collecting over the past couple decades. While the peak popularity of baseball cards was in the late 1980s and early 1990s during the “junk wax” era, cards have seen renewed interest from both casual and serious collectors in recent times.

One of the main groups driving baseball card sales currently is older millennials and Gen-Xers who collected cards in their youth during the boom period. Nostalgia has been a big factor in this age group revisiting their childhood hobby and passing their interest in cards down to their own children. Many longtime collectors held onto their old collections and have started upgrading cards or filling holes in sets from their childhood. This generation now has more disposable income compared to when they were kids to spend on accumulating premium vintage and modern cards of their favorite players and teams.

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Another participant group are younger millennials and Gen-Z individuals just getting into the hobby. Many in this generation saw parents or relatives collect cards decades ago and want to start their own collections. They also have easy access to many card buying/selling platforms online versus having to purchase solely from local card shops in the past. Some get into the hobby for investment purposes as well after seeing notable card valuations rise significantly over the past 10-20 years.

Kids and teenagers who follow and play baseball themselves also drive hobby growth. Many minor league and college baseball stadiums still have group outings centered around getting free packs of cards for kids. Products from top companies like Topps, Panini, and Leaf also actively market new card designs and initiatives targeted at young collectors. Newer tech like phone apps related to collecting help keep interest strong with digital natives.

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On the investment and speculation side, many career collectors and former collectors who amassed significant vintage troves over decades have re-emerged seeing sizable financial returns possible buying and flipping premium cards. Websites aggregating the latest record-breaking card auction prices captured mainstream interest too. Pension funds and family offices have quietly become large buyers through intermediaries, often storing high-dollar acquisitions in temperature/humidity-controlled storage facilities for future resale.

Sports card and memorabilia shops found new life with this renewed interest, as have large card/memorabilia conventions that see tens of thousands of attendees each year. Online auction platforms like Goldin Auctions, PWCC Marketplace, and eBay now handle millions of dollars in card transactions annually. Major League Baseball franchises have also taken notice, with some teams establishing official memorabilia/authentication programs to endorse high-dollar modern rare parallel and autograph card deals.

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Though the pandemic slowed some in-person aspects of the hobby, it likely also drove more people to start collecting or revisit their past collections to combat boredom during quarantines. Moving forward, as long as the major professional and college sports leagues continue growing their fanbases internationally, and cultural nostalgia for collectibles from the late 20th century persists, there will likely remain substantial buyer interest across generational and collecting segments in the baseball card market. Younger kids getting exposed and older generations reconnecting will help ensure the long-term viability and investment potential of the great American pastime on cardboard remains strong.

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