Part ll of this blog series, How To Start A Hockey Card Collection: Player Collecting is now Live.
Ahhh, hockey cards. Some people may not understand them, but for those who do or are just starting to, this blog post is definitely for you.
Whether you've been collecting for decades, or collecting for mere minutes, we've all been there. Starting your hockey card collection is the first step to participating in a hobby that has brought me many awesome memories over the years.
But where do you start?
That is the question I'm going to try and tackle today. Below I'll outline some tips that beginner or experienced hobbyists can use as a guide to start their new collections off on the right foot and have some fun along the way:
Free Stuff is always good
If you have a LCS (Local Card Shop), chances are they might have some stuff to get you started if they know you are new to the hobby. They might even carry homemade "packs" of cards to give out to new collectors (thought these are normally reserved for young kids), or at the very least may be able to offer you some lower-end base or insert cards they can't get rid of. It helps you as a new collector, plus it can help your LCS make some space in their shop. Win-win.
If they don't have anything tangible to offer, don't be afraid to ask them for some free advice. Depending on what products they have available, they might even give you a rundown on the type of hockey products available and what someone like yourself should be looking for if you're eying your first ever box break in the near future.
If you're already a part of a collecting community, some collectors may be very willing to help give your new collection a jump start if you ask nicely. It's no guarantee of course, but anything helps at this stage of the game.
Have a budget - And stick to it!
This step, while annoying, is a huge part of any hobby. You know when your parents / loved ones tell you to do something when you really don't want to hear it right now? Yeah, this is kinda like that, but in card collecting.
Budgets are annoying to hear about and to stick to, especially when you're gunning for those uber-awesome-patch-auto-numbered cards, but they definitely go a long way into having some fun in this hobby.... and not breaking the bank in the process. It's okay to save up for a big card here and there, or slightly overpay for a card you really need, but try not to make this a habit...
... Your wallet will thank you.
Set realistic goals for your collection when starting out
Setting goals for any new hobby can be very exciting, but you need to be realistic, too. Don't expect to complete that master set of cards in one swift trade, be prepared for it to take a while.
If you're undertaking a player collection, gunning for 100% of their cards can definitely inspire collectors at the start, it probably will never happen. I can only think of one instance where I've seen someone do that. If you're going to focus on a player collection, I would say maybe start with their rookie cards and go from there.
Collect what YOU like
It's so easy to get caught up in rookie-card hype, or collect what your friend said you should collect, but at the end of the day this is your card collection, so you should collect what you like and let nobody tell you otherwise.
It may seem like a simple concept, but I've been asked by collectors many times over the years on what player they should start to super collect or which products are the best to 'invest' in. While I'm flattered to be asked, I can never truly answer that question for you. Starting a card collection needs to be based your own reasons surrounding that team, set, player, brand, etc, not my option on any of those things.
Don't treat cards as currency (At least not right away)
Just to clarify, I have no issue on people selling hockey cards or investing in a particular set or player.
Heck, I've sold a good bunch of cards in my time in this wonderful hobby and I will no doubt sell more cards in the future. While it's not my personal reason for partaking in this hobby, I do understand the buy & sell dance that some collectors want to (or, in some cases, need to) play in order to fuel this collection, but I think if you go into this hobby just looking for the money or that "amazing investment" your buddy told you about, I think you will be disappointed and crash and burn out of this hobby sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, I've seen it happen.
For collectors just getting into the game, I'd suggest focusing on the cards first and their perceived market value a distant second. While it's definitely cool to see your card values fluctuate or have some big money cards in your collection (Thank you Marc-Andre Fleury and the Golden Knights Stanley Cup Final run), that aspect can turn a lot of collectors sour if the focused gets put too much on the value of their cards all the time.
Treat this hobby like any other hobby you have in your personal life: I'm going to have a lot of fun, but I'm probably never going make a profit on these things.
So just relax, have fun, and trade me all of your Jhonas Enroth cards. Easy peasy.
Try not to be jealous of other people's collections.
This one hits close to home for me. Yeah, yeah, I know these are just cards, but still.
When I was a lot younger in my teenage years, some small part of me would, not always, but occasionally feel jealous of other collectors and their extraordinary collections. Chalk it up to age, my inexperience in the hobby, or the fact that they may have collected the same player(s) that I did at the time, but whatever the reason was, jealously has no place in this hobby and will steal that natural joy you have in a heartbeat.
One lesson I've learned over the years is that chances are you have a card or two that other collectors would really like to own also, so it goes both ways. When it comes to other collectors in this hobby, it's best to just support each other along the way instead of up putting up walls. Who knows, maybe years down the road that very same collector might think of you when looking to deal that dream card you've always wanted to own.
Well that was super fun! I hoped these tips have helped you in your collecting journey, I'm glad I'm able to share them with you.
Do you have some tips for new collectors? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below!
- Aaron / creasecollector
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Author - Aaron
I've been collecting Hockey cards since the late 90's. Mainly the goalies since 2005. I also Co-Host a Hockey Card Podcast.
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Beyond The Crease: A Hockey Card Blog