What's It Worth?
August 06, 2014
A friend recently came into the possession of about 30,000 baseball cards, many of them still shrink-wrapped in their original multi-pack boxes. The majority of these cards were from the late 1980s through the mid 1990s. He was so excited. He was positive he had a veritable gold mine of image-laden, thin pieces of cardboard depicting baseball players from a few years ago. He could hardly control his excitement when he asked, "Hey, man! Think you could help me sell 'em? I will cut you a percentage of the profits! Should make us a ton of money! How much do you think we can get for them?"
I waited a moment, trying to organize my thoughts and explain just what kind of dollar amount we might be looking at. Finally, I responded with "They are worthless."
A quick check on eBay and just a brief Google search confirmed my affirmation. Not that he couldn't fetch $15, maybe $20 for the unopened boxes, but after figuring in shipping and the time it would take to post and sell them, it's barely worth the effort. But I could understand his initial exuberance. After all, weren't we told some twenty years ago that baseball cards were a hot commodity?
As time moves on, I find it amazing how relatively fast fads and trends can go out of style. Remember pogs? Don't worry--a lot of people who even owned some pogs barely remember them. And what about Beanie Babies? I remember news reports of fist fights at McDonald's restaurants over free Happy Meal Beanies that rivaled the tales of the Cabbage Patch Doll wars of a previous generation.
It's all about supply and demand, convincing people that what you have to offer is a commodity. We call this being an entrepreneur. And if you can just find that "Next Big Thing"... the 300 lb. gorilla if you will... then you can make a fortune. And yet it can come and go so fast. Disney's High School Musical was everywhere, seeming to permeate everything in our culture, but now you can't even give away copies of the DVD (with extended sing-along extras on the bonus disc!). Boy bands, movies, expressions born on Saturday Night Live--all of these things seem like they may never go out of style, but they do.
I challenge all of us to go out and create the "Next Big Thing." Not only do we have great ways to spark ideas and creativity at the library, but we have free databases that help with being an entrepreneur, marketing and selling, creating business plans, and how to succeed in the business world.
Good luck to all the future entrepreneurial geniuses out there with whatever ideas you may have... and in the meantime, I'm going to try promoting my new Beanie Cabbage Baseball Card Pog Dolls.