Eight-year-old Clint Wolcyn walked among sporting card tables, eyeing a rookie Paul Molitor card that sold for $ 100. His grandfather, who played professional baseball in the 1930s, took Wolcyn to his first card show.
Maybe someday I will own this card, he thought.
Now, a few decades later, he owns not only several rookie cards from Molitor, but an extensive collection of four major sports and an entire company dedicated to his passion.
Absolute Sports Cards, owned by Wolcyn and colleague Mike Hanson, celebrated its fifth anniversary in May.
Sport is a family affair for Wolcyn. His father played baseball for the Minnesota Gophers, alongside Hall of Fame members Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield. His three brothers grew up playing several sports and collecting cards.
Wolcyn went on to play college football at the University of Minnesota Duluth and Northwestern St. Paul University, where he graduated in 2008 with degrees in Bible and criminal justice.
Wolcyn quit collecting at the age of 12, but then gave in to his entrepreneurial spirit by buying and returning storage units. He learned the outlets for selling antiques, jewelry, and sports collectibles before his love of sports took him back to his roots: sports cards. The market was making a comeback.
The sports card craze, which began in 1900 when tobacco companies began including baseball cards in cigarette packages, has made a noticeable resurgence in the past year. Soccer cards are the top selling player in the United States, but basketball tops the world rankings.
Two main groups of customers enter the market on a regular basis. A group is made up of collectors, who are between 5 and 25 years old and frequently build their collections.
“We love to see the kids getting into the hobby,” Wolcyn said. “We have clients who are barely 5 years old who know the sport and take care of their cards.”
The other category of customers are investors, who are able to invest and earn a lot of money with the cards. A customer bought a Tom Brady rookie card for $ 10,000 and sold it this year for $ 1.7 million. Wolcyn sees himself as an investor.
Wolcyn and Hanson fill their inventory by purchasing collections or individual cards from various sources. Sellers find out about the store online or come in after a cleanup and want to know the value of certain cards.
Absolute Sports Cards is a deposit point for Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA), a third-party rating company. Customers send note cards to the store, creating the opportunity to maximize the value of their collectibles.
Rating is a process of valuing a card through a third party company, the main company being PSA. The practice has emerged to resolve disputes between buyers and sellers regarding the condition of the card. The condition of a map is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 based on centering, corners, edges and area.
Absolute Sports Cards sold a PSA 3 Roberto Clemente rookie card for around $ 2,000. A customer sold a PSA 9 two years ago for almost $ 700,000.
A PSA 10 could sell for several million dollars.
“Sports cards have become a legitimate alternative investment class, like coins and art, and they are starting to mature,” Wolcyn said.
The store has also started offering pop culture collectibles, including items related to Star Wars, Pokémon, and musicians. Although Wolcyn didn’t grow up playing Pokémon, he has adapted to the trend and offers Pokémon cards alongside boxes and boxes of baseball memorabilia.
Wolcyn and Hanson are planning a busy summer, settling down at several local card shows, continuing events at Shakopee Brew Hall and attending the world’s largest sports card show in July.