Turning a hobby into a profitable investment is a dream come true, but like many investments, it comes with risk. That said, the world is filled with so much incredible art, fun hobbies, and weird kitsch cuteness—and there’s a market for it all.
Comics, vinyl records, porcelain babies whose eyes seem to follow you across the room — people buy and sell them on trading sites like eBay. Or sometimes, collectors will buy them and wait for the future when the item may be more valuable.
Whether or not these items will actually become valuable is anyone’s guess. And there is no shortage of people out there who are guessing. Speculation has dealt drastic blows to the collector economy in the past, from comic book busts in the mid-90s to Pokémon cards in Happy Meals.
But the best-known example of our time has to be the infamous Beanie Babies craze that grabbed the attention and wallets of collectors starting in 1993. Years later, the cute little beanie creatures — some of which were selling online for thousands dollars — they’re not worth much.
However, Beanie Babies caused a major shift in the collector market. Buying and selling the toys helped eBay (EBAY) explodes. In 1998, the company went public with a share price of $18, which jumped to $53 on its first day of trading.
Since then, eBay has become a household name in online bidding for rare items. And after a post-pandemic drop in revenue, eBay is looking to attract more millennial and Gen-Z users by offering crypto-based payment options and evolving into greener marketplaces.
‘Magic: the Gathering’ & Pokémon Endure
At Hasbro’s (HE’S GOT) most recent quarterly earnings call, Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks said the Wizards of the Coast brand saw a 15% increase in sales over the past year. What is even more impressive is that most of this revenue came from a specific intellectual property.
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“Magic: The Gathering” is a fantastic, detailed game played by over thirty-five million players worldwide. Some individual collectible cards are valued in the six figures — and right now, there are only two reliable places online to find, buy or trade such a collectible.
TCGplayer is an online marketplace that specializes in card trading. People who collect and play popular card games like “Magic: the Gathering” can use the site to enhance their collection — for a small fee to the site for the service. The site also sells other popular cards, such as Nintendo’s (NTDOF) ‘Pokémon’ and Konami’s (KNMCY) “Yoo-Yoo!”. TCGplayer is one of only two sites with enough of these means to create a real market. eBay is the other.
Ebay acquires TCGplayer
Now it looks like there will be a mega-destination for this popular trading card hobby. Ebay bought TCGplayer for $295 million, giving the online auction house access to the site’s “tools, infrastructure, order fulfillment and cart optimization” features.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023. While some fans of the TCG establishment may fear that the platform will undergo changes, CEO Chedy Hampson assured his followers on Twitter that TCGplayer will operate independently of the major site e-commerce.
In a press release, Hampson provided more details.
“This new capital allows us to continue to operate independently on eBay while also leveraging decades of industry experience and resources to deepen the connection between hobbyists and their communities. With eBay’s support, we will advance the cause us and will expand our tools and services to enhance the collecting experience online and at your favorite local hobby shop.”
While the merger will clearly be very beneficial for both eBay and TCGplayer, the response from collectors has not been as enthusiastic.
In the past, more competition for buying and selling collectibles meant more variety in price and quality of products. This merger will make parent eBay the ultimate destination for card game collectors and players, which could be another factor affecting the volatility of collectibles. But for eBay shareholders, this could be some good change going forward.