Ladies and Gentlemen… The President of The Shlabotnik Report
Madam Speaker… Mister Subwoofer… Members of the Blogosphere… My fellow Collectors…
2015 was a notable year for The Shlabotnik Report and for the collecting community. Flagship Topps had an outstanding design; Stadium Club’s photography had everybody talking. A lot of accomplishments were made, but there are a lot of challenges remaining as we move into a new year.
However, 2015 was also a year without structure, a year of following impulses rather than pursuing the declared objectives. There’s a lot of good to be said about following impulses and doing what feels right at the moment, but the end result is a number of unfinished projects, unopened packs and box sets.
While we’ve been successful in keeping our spending in line with previous years, and also in keeping a handle on incoming cards, the fact is that we’ve had a large drop-off in the number of exports in the form of cards leaving the house. As you can see from this table…
…During Fiscal 2015, the number of cards leaving the house (listed in the “Outbound” row on the above table) were significantly down from prior years. While it’s true that 2013 was an aberration caused by the recycling of large quantities of junk wax doubles, the truth remains that 2015’s totals were still nearly 6,000 cards below the previous lowest amount. Similarly, the number of cards removed from the collection were down in 2015. Better efforts need to be made to return these to their previous levels.
In light of these shortcomings and challenges, a series of initiatives are being considered; some may be implemented as they stand, some may be modified before being implemented, others may get vetoed.
While a “budget” has often been referred to in this blog, the truth of the matter is that “I’m on a budget” is often a euphemism for “I’m cheap”. That being said, I don’t have a handle on how much is spent on the hobby during any given year. One initiative being considered for 2016 is tracking the money spent on cards, mainly out of curiosity but also to see whether the return on investment is there for certain expenditures (i.e. lunchtime Target runs).
Similarly, alternate retail strategies are being considered. In 2014 and 2015, the plan was to buy factory sets of flagship Topps while getting most of the pack-busting stimulus from Heritage. Studies have concluded that while factory sets are economically prudent, there is a significant shortfall in the amount of “fun”. While Heritage expenditures will continue in fiscal 2016, alternates to the factory set strategy are being explored.
One such strategy being floated is to focus more on Opening Day than on flagship Topps, which would allow for an easier set-building goal plus more enjoyable inserts. However, it’s recently come to this administration’s attention that 2016 Opening Day will no longer have 3-D cards, which diminishes the projected return on the Opening Day investments.
An initiative being explored is a two-pronged effort to devote more time towards domestic resources rather than imported resources; in other words, being more involved with cards already in the house rather than those in stores or on COMC. Part of this initiative would involve spending more time and energy with cards already in the collection, while the other part would involve exploring the vast cardboard reserves believed to exist on the surface of my dining room table.
One obvious place where cutbacks can easily be made are with inserts and with current cards of retired players. More and more studies are finding that inserts provide a short-term level of enjoyment; they may seem appealing when acquired, but later become something of an afterthought. I’m proposing a more strenuous screening process that would allow entry only to those inserts and retired players who fall into the collection in some predefined way. For instance, Cal Ripken would be allowed, as there’s a established Cal PC. Nolan Ryan would be welcomed if pictured with the Mets, but Nolan Ryan with any other team would be turned away… This is due to a distinct surplus in non-vintage Nolan Ryan cards.
Finally, several existing programs, – “1966 Batman” project and the “Steelers Team Sets” project, just to name two – will be temporarily put on hold and reevaluated at an undetermined future date.
In conclusion, we are pleased with the state of the collection as well as that of The Shlabotnik Report, and there is no doubt that 2016 will be a landmark year for both.
For additional statistics on 4th quarter performance, I refer you to the following statistics, illustrated by some imports from The Republic Of COMC.
The numbers here reflect changes since September 14th.
Net change in the collection since 9/14/15: +147 (442 added, 295 purged)
Net change to the # of cards in the house since 9/14/15: -1425 (1304 in, 2729 out)
In the below figures, “to date” means since I started tracking this stuff on 10/16/2011.
Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 11,784
Net change to the collection, to date: -1,476
Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 44,743
Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -25,533
Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 51,662
Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 17,623
…which means I’ve got at least 69,285 cards in my collection.
Thank you, and good night.