Comics, coins, cards and collectibles: hobbies taken to the next level during the pandemic (12 photos)

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge increase in people looking for great stories to read for themselves or their kids,” says Barrie comic book store owner

Do you still have your hockey cards from your childhood?

Think Grandpa’s coin collection might be worth a pretty penny?

These items are unlikely to be hidden gems, but more and more people have discovered it in their enforced extra free time over the past couple of years.

Comics, coins, vinyl records and sports cards have always been with us. But maybe COVID made them a bit more special.

“There are a number of reasons why (our) business has exploded,” said Doug Laurie Sports’ Wayne Fraser. BarrieToday of his Kozlov Mall store, which sells sports cards and souvenirs.

“Some of them are COVID-related and some are coincidence. People were just looking for something to do and staying there (the sports scene),” Fraser says of the passing time during the pandemic.

“When Kobe Bryant was killed, his cards exploded and when the Michael Jordan documentary aired, his cards also exploded,” he exclaims. “When people saw that, they thought they better dig around their house. A card that was worth $500 three years ago is now worth $5,000. It turned out there were plenty of examples of this.

Fraser says his industry has changed and continues to change.

“Thirty years ago when you bought a box of cards, you had 350 or 400 cards with pictures of guys and their stats on the back,” he says. “Now you get limited edition cards, you get holographic cards, you get autographed cards, you get cards with a piece of jersey used in the game or a piece of staff in it (relic cards).

“We’ve had maps with bits of seats, bits of turf, sand from sand traps at the Masters, and dirt from a baseball mound: pretty much everything you can think of has been put on a map.

“There’s all that stuff and the higher you go up the ladder the more of that stuff you get. People want something that goes a little beyond just watching a game on TV or maybe even attending the game.

But times are changing. Some young collectors don’t care about something they may own.

“They’re equally interested in having a non-fungible token,” says Fraser.

A what? A non-fungible token is a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger, that can be sold and traded.

“It’s something digital that they can claim as their own. It’s a bit of a divide between old-generation collectors and new-generation collectors,” he says. “Let’s say you have a $100,000 LeBron James rookie card. You can send this to a company and they will store it in an air conditioned safe and they will issue you an NFT for this card.

“Then if you want to sell the card, you don’t physically own it, you own the token and that’s what changes hands digitally. As an old man, I don’t understand the draw.

Comic book sales have also increased recently, said Big B Comics owner Marc Sims. BarrieToday.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge increase in people looking for great stories to read for themselves or their kids,” he says. “People were stuck at home with nothing to do and many rediscovered their love of reading. Sales of children’s graphic novels like Dog Man and babysitter club jumped nationally.

Almost anything that could be considered a collectible has seen a surge in demand, Sims says.

“Comic books, trading cards, sports memorabilia, original artwork, action figures: it was all hot. Things are only just beginning to calm down as people return to some semblance of normal life. »

This includes the ability to go to the comic book store and relax.

“We offer our customers a sense of community and a shared passion. They can come and escape to a fantastical world of larger-than-life stories and characters,” says Sims. “We want people to engage with the stories and the characters and the huge, interconnected worlds that have been built over 80+ years of comic book storytelling.

“We also deal with a lot of vintage comics from the 1940s to the 1980s. These are collected more as investment pieces or purely out of nostalgia.

“Last year we sold several copies of Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 for between $30,000 and $50,000. These are top notch investing books that people store in safes rather than opening and reading.

Although you could lock away your favorite vinyl LP for safe keeping, how would you listen to it?

Brett Seymour, owner of The Record Market near Five Points in downtown Barrie, wouldn’t agree to that.

“I’ve always been into music,” he says. BarrieToday, adding that he still remembers the first record he bought: Sweet’s Boulevard of Desolation. “The second was Led Zeppelin II and after that, I don’t remember.

Seymour has been selling vinyl for decades: he worked with John Ritson (Big John’s Records) in the early 90s in his first store when he was near Maverick’s Music Hall, then in the basement of 15 Dunlop St. E. , the current location. of the Record Market, then in his own shop in Orillia for more than 17 years before returning to Barrie.

“There’s been this resurgence in vinyl collecting thanks to COVID,” says Seymour. “A lot of people were home and had left. You couldn’t get out. Many people were working from home.

“Music can take some of that pressure off, so it’s an escape, I guess, to break up that monotony of being sort of isolated,” he says, adding that collecting is a “very tactile thing. “. “Because they’re so big, vinyl records are like works of art. This is the appeal to many people.

But passionate collectors do more than just listen to the music, he says.

“People who have been there for a long time always need more. There’s always new stuff coming out,” says Seymour, adding that exploring new titles and genres can be a real family/friend reunion.

It refers to a teenage girl and her father going through albums across the room.

“She’s just starting to get into it and bought her first album not too long ago,” he says. “It’s a fun thing for them to do together and a bond too.”

But you have to dig deep to buy new vinyl these days.

“There are all sorts of reasons,” Seymour says of the high cost. “There is a shortage of nickel and they need nickel to make the master plates. The compound of vinyl records is, of course, made with petroleum and we know what goes into it. And you have shipping problems.

“So all of these factors are contributing to making vinyl more and more expensive and I think it’s going to get to the point where it’s going to kill the industry again,” he says. “Forty dollars is nothing these days for a (new) record or more. You start seeing $50 and $60 now. It’s crazy.”

Many music lovers who can’t afford vinyl are turning to CDs, Seymour adds.

“This is the first year since 1989 that there’s been a major increase in CD sales instead of a decrease because you see vinyl prices getting ridiculously expensive,” he says. “Actually, I think that’s why there’s such a resurgence of CDs. People wonder, “Am I going to buy a $30 LP or am I going to buy six (used) $5 CDs if I just want to listen to the music?”

“But there’s this fun element of collecting.”

So if fun is what you seek, collect it.

But if collecting is like investing, beware. While people can collect almost anything, what seems clever to them might seem like nonsense to someone else.

“I don’t collect a lot of stuff myself,” says Fraser of Doug Laurie Sports.

(Hmm: that gold medal headquarters in the old Maple Leaf Gardens looks pretty cool!)

“For a while I collected baseballs signed either by a politician or a celebrity,” he says. “I had a baseball signed by Dee Snider, the lead singer of Twisted Sister, and I thought no one else would want it.

“I posted online that I had it and 20 minutes later a guy from Texas messaged me and said he wanted it for his heavy metal baseball collection. made a very good offer and I sent it to him.

When deciding if something in your collection Anything might be useful, Fraser suggests making sure you know what’s out there.

“If there is no scarcity, there is no value.”