The Different Categories of Hobby Acquirers

Frank Thomas 1998 Leaf Heading for the Hall #20
Frank Thomas 1998 Leaf Heading for the Hall #20

Most of us are at least partially aware of the common types of acquirers in the hobby of sports cards. This includes the following:

1. Resellers: These individuals have the specific intention to buy at low cost and sell high to squeeze a high margin out of each sale. This makes sense and is the basic economic foundation for any successful business. These individuals are only interested in moving items. They aren’t typically as fervent as their collector counterpart but they can still be great contacts to have if you’re a collector. The best part about this group is that they’re typically willing to move whatever they have in their inventory. The best ones do it honestly and without intentionally ripping people off.

2. Collectors: These are the passionate individuals that collect because they love the activity. Collectors come in a few different forms. Let’s have a closer look at each.

  • Casual Collector: These individuals simply enjoy the activity of collecting. Their collections may not be the biggest but they like what they collect. They don’t claim to know everything about what they collect and may not be interested researching more than what they already do. While they do have a fair amount of spending discretion, they may from time to time overpay for items. This may not matter as much to this crowd as it’s less important than the enjoyment they get from the hobby.
  • Hardcore Collector: These individuals thrive off of intense research to learn as much as they can about what they collect. While they know they’ll never get everything, they acquire as much as they can that they don’t already have. In this way, they’re completists at heart. They are area experts in their collecting categories. They’re usually the go-to guys in their circles for a variety of related information surrounding what they collect. They’re commonly found actively congregating at card shows, conventions, and online forums. These individuals are category ambassadors and are ardently excited about what they collect. They aren’t known for selling anything in their personal collections (PCs) but are sometimes interested in helping out fellow collectors by either connecting them to others or with other deals that accommodate their collecting goals. This is the loyalist type of acquirer.
  • Reseller Collector: These individuals are passionate collectors that often buy items they know others are or may be after at some point in the future. Aside from their own collecting ambitions, they keep an eye out for items they can acquire for a low cost then flip for varying degrees of profit. The best people in this category do this with the intention of helping other collectors reach their collecting goals. Beware, there are sharks here too; you’ve been warned!

While there’s no clearly defined duration required to hold the Collector designation, you can usually tell within minutes of an interaction whether or not someone is a collector, or just a buyer.

This next category is designated to a third type of acquirer – the buyer.

3. Buyers: These are people with deep pockets and an itch to either fit into a group or just temporarily try on a hobby for size. These individuals typically possess if any at all, very limited knowledge on what they collect. Their primary intention is to show off what they buy and/or talk about how much they spend. They aren’t typically interested in, or don’t make time to learn about the subtleties of their hobby or the content within it. Because these individuals have access to deep resources, they often can possess little discretion on how much they spend on individual pieces, which ends up temporarily but artificially inflating demand and spiking actual market value. This is a common reason why their collector counterparts may resent them. Individuals within this group typically don’t stick around for too long and usually burn out within a year or two at most either from exhausted resources or short attention span and dwindling interest.

Which one are you? Be honest; there’s no wrong answer.

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