By Guy Mitchell aka Sweetg1

Back in the 70s, 80s and 90s, I was what I considered a Super Collector. I had most of the cards of my favorite players. I had Walter Payton’s rookie card and most of his other cards. When Topps was the only game in town, it was easy. Life was good. You went and bought packs for 15 cents a pack at Shop and Go (70s) and you collected until you found what you were looking for. If you didn’t get it, you bought more packs or you traded your buddy for it. If you were really lucky, your mom would buy a box of Twinkies. If I knew mom was going to the store, I’d have to go with her so I could see who was on the back panel. Of course, while we were at the store, we’d have to get a box of cereal too (a kid has got to eat, right?). “Let me pick mom”, I’d plead…and the Frosted Flakes (Kellogg’s 3D cards) would be my breakfast for the next few days until I could pull that card out of the box – only if I could beat my brother to it (but that’s another story)). That’s how Super Collecting was back in the day, as I knew it. Life was good.

Life was different in the 20th century. We simply collected what we liked and tried to get as much as we could. I was fortunate enough to work for a card dealer at shows and he paid us by the hour, which we traded for individual cards or packs. It was a simple solution…we worked for cards and we were paid well. Life was really good.

Then that’s when it happened. Somewhere in the 21st century, card collecting became about a different kind of collecting and a different type of collector. By today’s standards, I’m not a super collector at all. Today, I will see a 20 year old kid have 90% of the base of one player, 5 of his 1 of 1’s, and 50% of the autos and game used cards for that player. “He is only 20 years old and I am a 44 year old with a job!”, I say to myself. “How in the world could he have passed me up? And what in the world is a super-duper-refractoid-glossy-parallel (only 5 made) that I have to find of my favorite player and how did this 20 year old kid get one?” At this point, I simply tell myself that I cannot compete and I will never grace the pages of Tuff Stuff or Beckett or ever be considered for Super Collector status in SCF. Life was no longer good.

But, as a collector, I also considered myself to be somewhat scrappy. I think most Super Collectors have learnt this at some point in their super-collecting lives. I had to use my resources. I told myself that anyone could buy all the cards they wanted if they had the money. Where’s the fun in that (although, I do have to admit that the thought is pretty good). I’d have to find other ways to collect those of my favorite players. Being of little means, I’d have to be creative and this is what truly makes a Super Collector.

Most of us trade cards on sites like SCF. You have it and I want it, so let’s swap. There was a time before the internet when trading became a lost art. However, the information highway opened doors for the Super Collector that I didn’t have when I was young. It was the only way that to get rid of the rare 1 of 1 card of a little known player. Life was good again.

I think selling cards is also kind of a lost art to the non-Super Collector. Not everyone will pay full book on an $80 card. Many people will buy such cards on places like eBay. However, how many actually sell? It’s easy to sell a $100 card on eBay (even if only to get $20 for it). I could then take that $20 cash and buy the $80 card on the same site that I really wanted. This isn’t a new concept. However, I think kids don’t always realize that you have to give up something to get something. I have become pretty good at “taking someone else’s junk and turning it into my own personal gold”. This is the “being resourceful” I was talking about. To get that same $80 card, you sometimes have to sell a popular $10 card for $5-6, where you can then pay $5-6 for a $20 card that is #’d/50. Then I trade that $20 card to someone who really wants it and I get a $25 card in return. I continue the process until I get the $80 card that I wanted in the first place. It might take several trades to get there, but in the end, I get it. Not only is it good collecting (where everyone is happy), but you get what you want in the end. That’s what makes a Super Collector.

What also is right about the formula is that this formula not only makes good trading, but it’s just good business and a good life lesson. You take a little money and you turn it into something bigger. You become resourceful.

For those of you who look to become a Super Collector, look to start small. Become a Super Collector Lite first. Don’t be afraid to give up cards and don’t be afraid to make trades, even if they are smaller trades. Even if you don’t get there, it is okay. It’s all about the climb (hey, don’t knock me because I’m quoting Miley Cyrus – I said it before she did!).

I’ll never reach the levels of some of the guys here. But in my local circle, I’m doing pretty good as a Super Collector Lite. Life is good.