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A Beginner’s Guide to Unopened Sports Cards: How to Get Started on Building Your Collection

A Beginner's Guide to Unopened Sports Cards: How to Get Started on Building Your Collection

In the realm of sports memorabilia, unopened sports cards have emerged as a captivating and lucrative niche, enticing collectors and investors alike.

The mystique surrounding these sealed products has given rise to a thriving market, where enthusiasts eagerly partake in the pursuit of unearthing rare treasures from the past.

But why are unopened sports cards becoming so popular?

Well, part of the reason for this is that unopened sports cards serve as a bridge between nostalgia and financial opportunity.

These sealed treasures create a sense of anticipation and evoke cherished memories of bygone eras, reminding enthusiasts of their love for sports and the heroes that captivated their imaginations.

But beyond the sentimental value lies the potential for substantial financial gain.

With the resurgence of the sports card market in recent years, fueled by a surge in demand and limited supply, unopened sports cards have become sought-after assets that hold significant value.

And aside from nostalgic and financial motivations, the allure of unopened sports cards can be attributed to various other factors, as well.

First and foremost, the thrill of the unknown drives collectors to acquire sealed boxes and packs, as the possibility of discovering a valuable card creates an element of surprise and excitement.

Moreover, the inherent scarcity of unopened sports cards heightens their appeal, with many of them becoming increasingly rare and exponentially valuable over time.

What’s more, the concept of owning an intact piece of sports history, preserved in its original packaging, contributes to the desirability and investment potential of these coveted cards.

But it’s not just the vintage products that are making the unopened sector the fastest growing niche within the market, as collectors and investors alike are also spending a considerable amount of money on modern day products with the intention of keeping them unopened, as well.

Still, in spite of all this, starting a collection of unopened sports cards from scratch can feel like quite an intimidating task.

If you’re looking to start an unopened collection of your own, then you’re probably asking yourself questions like, “Where do I even begin? Who do I turn to for advice?” and “How do I avoid purchasing items that have been resealed or tampered with?”

With that in mind, I wanted to publish an article offering some advice for beginners like you, so you can feel more comfortable and have greater confidence when starting your unopened collection.

So, if you’re looking to collect unopened sports cards, but you’re not sure where to start, then you’re going to want to keep reading, because this article is for you.

And if you want to learn more, you should check out my previous article, which answers the question, Why Do People Collect and Invest in Unopened Sports Cards?


How to Start Building Your Collection of Unopened Sports Cards

Whether you’re looking to collect vintage or modern products, like unopened trading cards, unopened boxes of sports cards, or even unopened cases, novice collectors can definitely use some guidance.

This is true, even if you’re already collecting slabs or raw cards, and remains applicable whether you’re starting your collection in pursuit of personal fulfillment, profitable returns, or a mixture of both.

I wish I’d had someone to advise me when I was a nine-year-old kid just starting my collection, but I learned a lot through trial and error, and now, as an adult, I’ve been blessed to have dear friends and respected colleagues who hold great wisdom from the many years of experience they have within the unopened niche.

So, in an effort to help you avoid going through all that trial and error, below, I offer several tips to help new unopened collectors and investors steer clear of the same mistakes I made.


Make Some Simulated Purchases

To those who have experience collecting unopened sports cards, this exercise might sound a bit silly.

But if you’re just getting your feet wet, and especially if you’re nervous about starting a collection, I would recommend making what I call simulated purchases.

First, sit down and think about what exactly it is that you want to collect or invest in.

Ask yourself, “Do I want to collect unopened trading cards, unopened boxes of sports cards, or maybe a bit of both? What am I interested in? And should the products I invest in be related to a specific sport, player, or era?”

Once you’ve figured this out, go online, evaluate the products that interest you, and pretend you’re “purchasing” them by writing down their current market value in a journal.

Then, track the value of these products at various intervals, depending on how long you want to be doing this. I would recommend checking the price again after 30 days, 90 days, six months, and one year, and then writing down those values, as well.

Next, compare the prices that you “paid” when you made your simulated purchases to the value of the products at those various points in time.

This will allow you to feel more connected to the unopened market, and will help you to evaluate the practicality (or lack thereof) of purchasing the kinds of products that you want to collect or invest in.

At this point, if you want to learn even more, you can start asking yourself some questions, and hopefully, that will inspire you to start finding some answers. Here are some to start with:

  • What “purchases” have held my interest and which ones have increased in value?
  • What does the PSA Population Report say about the rarity of these products?
  • Did I make any mistakes on these simulated purchases and if so, what can I learn from them?
  • Which platform(s), auction house(s) or dealer(s) do I want to buy from or feel comfortable with?
  • Which platform(s), auction house(s) or dealer(s) would I expect to use when selling?
  • When I made my simulated purchases, was the unopened market trending up, trending down, or holding steady?
  • How was the market performing at each of the aforementioned intervals?
  • Did the market (in its entirety) perform differently than the unopened sector of the market?

Sure, this does take a little bit of work, but if you’re not yet comfortable with putting real money towards an unopened collection or investment, simulating purchases and tracking the progress of those products is a great way to get your feet wet, especially if you are not the type to dive in head first.

At any rate, this exercise offers invaluable opportunities to educate yourself on what it takes to be a collector or investor of unopened sports cards, and it won’t cost you anything, except your time.


Avoid Buying Raw

If you’re new to collecting sports cards, you might not even know what raw means in this context.

So, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this term, in the world of card collecting, if something is referred to as raw, it simply means that the condition of the product hasn’t been graded and/or the authenticity of the product hasn’t been evaluated by a widely regarded expert within the industry.

If you want to start collecting unopened sports cards, this is incredibly important to understand, as it’s pretty easy to get taken advantage of if you’re new to this sort of thing.

For this reason, here at Jackpot Sports Cards, we do not offer unopened products unless they are factory sealed or have been authenticated by trusted experts.

The whole point of authenticating is to provide an impartial and standardized evaluation of an unopened product’s quality, so that whoever’s buying it can make an informed decision about the true value and potential of the product without the added stress or fear that the product has been tampered with.

That being said, if you‘re new to the unopened niche of the trading card market, I would recommend that you refrain from buying any raw unopened products, at least in your first couple of years, and advise you to only purchase unopened items that have been authenticated by:

It’s also important to note that all unopened packs graded by PSA are authenticated by Steve Hart.


Understand Your Options

One of the greatest benefits of collecting unopened sports cards is that it gives you options.

But what kinds of options am I talking about?

Well, first of all, any unopened product is going to contain many different forms of value.

For example, if you buy an unopened box of cards, the box itself, with everything inside of it, has a value, each individual pack inside the box has a value, and each and every card in those packs has its own value, as well.

So, if you want, you can keep the box sealed, as is, and never bother to open it.

On the other hand, you could open the box to have the individual packs graded, or even open the packs to try and find rare and valuable cards.

So, whenever you’re purchasing unopened sports cards, make sure to keep these options in mind, and do as much research as you can to find out what’s going to be your best option.


Start Small

Part of the appeal of the unopened market is its massively diverse range of pricing options, which allows newbies to get just as much enjoyment out of building their collection as seasoned collectors or big-time investors.

There are widely available authenticated unopened boxes that sell for as little as $30- $50, as well as ultra rare vintage authenticated boxes that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The same can be said about graded unopened wax and cello packs or authenticated rack packs, with some going for as little as $30-$50, while still, others can cost as much as a new car.

So, as you can tell, whether you’ve only got a few bucks to spare, or thousands of dollars to invest, there’s room in this space for practically any kind of collector.

With that in mind, if you’re just starting to spend real money and build your collection, I would recommend that you start with a series of small purchases.

This way, you can learn as you go, ease yourself into collecting or investing in the unopened trading card market, and learn from your mistakes at an entry-level price point.


Start With What You Know

As with anything in life, things tend to be easier when we’re familiar with them, and this is definitely true when it comes to collecting unopened sports cards.

I’m a firm believer in the keep-it-simple-stupid (KISS) method, and taking this kind of approach has certainly served me well over the years. In fact, I would be willing to bet that Maddie is convinced the keep-it-simple-stupid method was created specifically with me in mind. 😁

Jokes aside (I hope), if you’re a baseball fan, for instance, but don’t really follow any other sports, then you should probably stick to collecting unopened baseball card products, at least until you’re more comfortable with collecting unopened products in general.

For one thing, this is going to make the process of collecting all the more meaningful for you, as you’ll be investing in items that showcase a sport and players that you know and love.

Additionally, it’s going to make the learning process significantly easier, and it’ll also make it less likely that you’re going to make a bad decision while learning how to navigate the unopened market.


Remember That Every Unopened Collection Starts With One Purchase

Finally, I would like to offer a reminder to anyone that’s new to the unopened niche of this wonderful hobby, and those who are considering joining the unopened sector of this industry.

The fact of the matter is, every experienced unopened investor or collector, every expert within this field, and every incredible collection, all started with one purchase.

And the rewards of the chase, the truly unique aspects of this hobby, and the unparalleled friendships that I’ve personally experienced and enjoyed as a member of the unopened trading card society are priceless.

Any mistake, poor decision, or bad buy that I’ve made along my journey into this niche market has been well worth the price of admission.

That being said, I’m 100 percent confident that any new collector or investor that finds their way into the world of unopened will feel the exact same way!


Are you ready to start building your collection? You can start by having a look at our online store. And if you want to learn more and connect with fellow card enthusiasts, you can check out Jackpot Sports Cards on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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