I’m very excited to share interviews conducted with several sports cards hobbyists, enthusiasts, champions, and hustlers. Check out the entire interview series at the bottom of this page and let’s all learn, improve, inspire, and collaborate.
Today, I bring to you James from Illinois, known online on Instagram, Facebook, and eBay as awe_someprocards.
Tell me a bit about your background, any other hobbies/interests
- My full time job is a hospital pharmacist. My only hobby right now is really sports cards. I also like to stay active through biking and swimming.
- I have 2 small boys. A 3yr old and a 1yr old, who are my main focus and take up any free time I have left. They are the only reason I came up with a logo. Their first names and middle initial make up AWE, so I came up with Awesome Pro Cards from that and hopefully they enjoy this hobby as much as I do!
What is your sports card background, how are you involved today including your collection and what you love most about the hobby
- I am 40yrs old and I think like most guys my age that are getting back into the hobby, started collecting in the 80’s/early 90’s. My first set that my parents got me was a 1987 Topps baseball set and I was hooked from there. I mostly collected baseball cards at that time and some basketball in the early 90’s. My favorite players were Nolan Ryan, Bo Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Eric Davis, Frank Thomas, Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace, and Ken Griffey Jr.
- I still remember pulling a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. RC from a pack and being so excited. I had friends in the neighborhood that I would trade with and my grandfather would always take me to the local card shops (they were everywhere back then). There were a few in the mall as well as stand alone shops.
- I basically collected until I started going to high school and kind of lost touch with it. I came back in 2002 for a bit, but not enough to get back into it. I think I bought a few hobby boxes from 2001 to chase Albert Pujols rookies. And that was it for a long time.
- I moved to a house in 2017 and my dad brought over all of my old cards to get them out of his house. I started going through them trying to figure out if they were worth anything and what I should do with all the cards. It brought back a lot of great memories for me and the nostalgia is probably one thing I love most.
- That is a great question though – what do I love most about the hobby? I have to say the connection and nostalgia of my childhood as well as the memories I had opening packs with my grandfather who has since passed on. That and the thrill of opening packs and getting that player you are chasing or trying to find a particular card that might be rare or difficult to get. With modern cards, it’s rooting for the players you like to watch to see if their card prices increase and then having cool cards to show off on social media I guess…haha
- What i remembered from my childhood was that I could never afford the real vintage cards- Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson and now that I had some income, I started focusing on vintage baseball.
- Once I realized basically everything I had from the junk wax era wasn’t worth much, I donated most of my sets and felt it was a safer investment buying/selling vintage cards. That’s when I started taking more of a business approach to the hobby. I noticed vintage cards could sell for big money and not really dropping in price so I focused on vintage baseball for the last 2 years. Long story short, it is not easy and in fact very difficult to find deals and turn a profit on vintage. I’m sure part of it was that I didn’t know enough, but I couldn’t get over how much people were willing to spend at live auctions, online auctions, and even on eBay.
- This past year, I have switched my focus to modern baseball and basketball to see if I could find better opportunities. I really started this after listening to different sports card podcasts such as Sports Card Investor, Cardboard Chronicles, Psacardcollector, and a few others. The modern era just seemed very confusing with so many options and trying to figure out what brands/cards are worth investing in. I just spent time trying to learn about all of the sets, more desirable sets, and the key players. I did that for a bit and actually made more money this past year than with vintage cards.
- I have trouble separating the business and collecting side of this hobby. I like to hold onto the cards I like and I don’t really sell to make an income, but the money I make selling goes towards other cards I like. My focus now is mainly basketball- Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, a few baseball rookies plus Mike Trout, and then vintage such as Mickey Mantle and Jackie Robinson.
- I hope to continue to learn about the hobby and continue to buy/sell to improve my collection and once my kids get older maybe start selling at shows or spending more time creating a business that generates real income. haha.
Biggest sports cards related regret or mistakes you’ve had and lesson learned to help others
- Biggest regret is waiting too long to get back into the hobby. I feel like there has been a sports cards boom recently and I could have been better off if I started 5 yrs back with buying and selling. Plus i had way more time before kids and could have put more time into this back then.
- Other regrets are just not buying when I knew there were good deals, but I thought I could get a better price. Also just selling cards too soon. I have always remembered the junk wax era and worried that I could lose all the money I have into my cards so far, but prices keep going up and not being patient with the market I have missed out on a lot of gains. Most recent example was selling a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan RC PSA 8 for $3,200 2 months ago and now doubled in price. That hurts to think about.
- I’m just trying to keep up with card prices for players that I’m looking to buy and that I own, but it takes time and you really have to be on top of things to know when prices change. This doesn’t happen with vintage cards. A 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie card is the same price it was 3 yrs ago. They might steadily increase but prices don’t double in a week. So, I’m trying to find trends and not buy into the hype but maybe buy other stuff that could be next or just players that aren’t hot right now. Jordan is the focus now, so I’m trying to build up my LeBron and Giannis collection.
How do you stay motivated, what keeps you going or excited in this hobby
- I just enjoy collecting cool cards and getting good deals on the cards I want. I’ve seen people make money at this and if you can do what you love and make money that is incredible. So that’s my main motivation. If I can figure out how to generate real income, it would be a lot of fun for me and not just a hobby where I’m only spending money. Plus, I’m hoping my kids are into this so it’s more of a family business.
When was the moment you realized you can make money with sports cards
- Not even close to this. If there is one thing I have learned is that it is not easy to make a living investing in sports cards. I would not be confident to go full time yet or maybe even ever. My hope is to one day make enough to at least recoup my investments and maybe make a little extra income on the side.
What are your favorite specific, detailed ways to make money with sports cards
- My favorite thing to do is open packs and I think breaking would be a lot of fun, but I have not even tried anything like that yet. I try to pick up multiple cards of players that I like so I can sell some and keep some if their price goes up.
- I have broken even buying/selling vintage so I’m not really focused on that, although I would use earnings to buy some more vintage stuff from the 50’s because that is what I like to collect.
- I try to avoid all the rookie hype and focus on established players in the game and HOF players.
- I would like to learn more about buying lots and how to price out big collections like that. I think that would be the most fun for me. Buying a large collection and then selling off to make a profit. I just don’t have the experience or have had a chance to really learn how to price lots of certain cards and know that I’ll make a profit.
- At this point in time, I’m not really looking to grow a business. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can and hopefully build a network of other collectors/investors in the hobby that I can talk cards with and ask about their perspectives on things. I honestly don’t know anybody else that collects cards and I mostly talk to people on Instagram about sports cards.
I hope you found some helpful nuggets in this interview. My goal is to help the community because we can all be more open minded.
Check The Rest of The Sports Cards Interview Series
- John Newman of Sports Card Nation Podcast and selling 150 1993 SP Derek Jeter RCs way too early
- Kyle of Wax Museum Podcast as a full time teacher and leaning on one another to help grow each other’s collections
- Jon, the Basketball Card Guy, an emerging media field professional and helpful thoughts for the many new people entering the hobby
- Ron, founder of the largest sports cards scammers group on Facebook with 27,000 members and how a $25 deal ended up helping countless number of collectors
- Kyle of KWJ Sports Cards shares several ways to make money with sports cards
- Agostino of A&M Centerpiece Sports Cards Investments and what he learned buying, selling, and grading a 2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols auto
- James AKA Awe_SomeProCards and how nostalgia kept him in sports cards and continuing to learn about the hobby