My collecting journey over the past 18 months has been nothing short of a whirlwind! From knowing absolutely nothing about AFL trading cards before Optimum 2021, to then dedicating myself full-time to the sports card hobby is pretty crazy reality to think about!
I thought I'd give some cool insights about what new releases are like on the other side of the curtain, and explain to you all what working in the hobby is like come new release time!
To break the 'fourth wall' a touch, release day ISN'T actually release day for hobby stores! The day before release is just as full-on (if not more intense) than when the product is first released to the public. Why is this?
Some 'bricks and mortar' Hobby Stores receive an allocated amount of sealed product from Select for 'Series 1' and 'Series 2' releases, This allocation can then be used to either sell to customers, be used in breaks or can be ripped to then be listed on eBay or used to fulfill presale orders for all unnumbered inserts sets (Mascots, Colour Bursts, Essentials, etc.).
And that last point was how I spent the majority of 'Pre D-Day'! We ripped packs, then we ripped some more, and when we got tired and our fingers started to bleed (not even metaphorically), we kept at it and opened seemingly endless packs. Now I know a majority of you reading this article think that infinite pack openings is a pipe dream, and this is definitely not a 'woe is me' type scenario, More so a reminder of the need for perspective, even when I'm tired and "over" my job!
The least 'sexy' part of ripping however, is certainly having to sort everything into team sets, insert types or a mixture of both. And before you ask, yes, it's the best way to drive a perfectly healthy person to the brink of insanity! It's kind of like cooking a meal, everyone enjoys preparing the dish, but no one races to put their hand up when deciding who does the dishes!
To summarise, Footy Stars 2023 is only 3 days old, and I'm completely desensitised to everything found within this release! I close my eyes and I see 'Colour Bursts', I open them and I'm surrounded by an ocean of common base cards and shredded boxes. My hands and fingers are busted up, I'm drained mentally and physically. But spiritually, I can never be broken.
At RGV, we are both a team and a family, but for a release to be successful we all need to play our roles, and my specific role this release was 'death by packs'!
What were the other available roles you may ask?
Learning from past Footy Stars releases, presale was a big focus of ours due to how large scale Footy Stars is in both size and quantity. 'Minx' is our designated 'dispatch extraordinaire', and spent all of Wednesday getting orders packed and shipped in attempts to get boxes to our loyal customers on release day. The amount of individual orders which were fulfilled was quite overwhelming, so to say Minx put in a 'shift' is a massive understatement!
You also may have woken up on Thursday morning, and checked eBay to find your recent listings inundated with a plethora of new Footy Stars inserts. Yeah, that's Will! Not only did he do a great job turning numbered cards into scheduled listings, but to work so efficiently against a ticking clock is only a small reason why we are so lucky to have him on the team!
Both Will and Minx put in some stupidly long hours ensuring that RGV as a business held up our end of the bargain come release time. So Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, feel free to step aside as the world's greatest duo whenever you get the chance!
The AJ's were everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Communicating with each of us to make sure everyone is on the same page with all aspects of the release. Their biggest external presence however is obviously through 'RGV Breaks', and in turn pushing through all the breaks that were sold out in the week prior. But besides that, they pitched in everywhere to help make everyone's life easier! Whether that be with ripping, helping with dispatch, posting on social media, mapping out price points for listings, or ordering the Uber Eats! Strong brands have strong leaders, and RGV is no different!
MY role besides filling holes wherever required, was making sure we were first to market when it comes to all things Footy Stars. That started with our Card Authority livestream, to posting the hits on social media as quickly as possible, and 'clipping' anything worthy of making our social channels. These past couple of months have helped prepare me for mt first release of the year and I know that I'll be 'better for the run' as we get further into the season and releases get more "serious".
It can't be questioned though, the BEST part of working in the hobby during a new release is the people. So few hobbies, let alone jobs, allow you to constantly see little moments of pure magic.! Seeing so many new and familiar faces coming through our shopfront to either buy boxes, rip packs, or talk everything trading cards with us NEVER gets old. 'The Hobby' is alive and well, and releases like Footy Stars always ram that point home!
So there you have it, what you've just read is EXACTLY what a new release looks like for a local card store and the people working within it! Does anything that is endured during release time a surprise to you?