My Life as a Child Capitalist : Sports Cards for Sale


What happens when an industrious youth with a backlog of Sports Illustrated For Kids needs to make some extra coinage on the down low?  Well a perfect black market of trading cards get established that’s what.

Inevitably in any movie about some successful businessman, or shady shiester there will be the prototypical intro scene depicting their childhood.  They will have some scheme or plan in order to monetize their genius and prove to the viewer their inherent business acumen.  Well if one day I become rich and successful or noteworthy enough to inspire a biopic, preferably where I will be portrayed by a suave Ryan Gosling since we do share devilishly similar good looks; my opening scene will be my foray into the world of underground sports cards.

My parents had invested in a subscription for Sports Illustrated’s new youth base off shoot Sports Illustrated For Kids when I was a wee lad of 8 or 9.  Every month a new magazine full of zany cover photos (Nomar Garciaparra with a vacuum arm classic), as well as stories about modern day athletes.  But the real Cracker Jack prize of each edition was the page of 9 sports cards tucked in the fold; perforated and ready to be ripped apart and kept like any other sports card.  Well at the time it never occurred to me to take out said cards and do anything with them, whether it be share with friends like Magic the Gathering or keep in an album like my complete set of Tops 1986 baseball cards.

Years passed and copious amounts of magazines began to stockpile my room.  Then on one eventful day I had an idea: why not try and sell some of the cards at school?  People were always talking about the inherent value of baseball cards, where a Ty Cobb misprint could get you a pretty penny.  With that idea in my head I set about extracting all the pages from their sheaths and carefully separating all the cards individually.  With the cards neatly piled into a plastic bag I mad my way to school the next day with my business model set to be tested.  Use my advanced dialect to trick this poor thumb suckers into buying what should amount to be pointless cards.  When lunch time came around I made my move.  Setting up in the middle of the lunch room I spread word that I had these incredibly valuable cards of some of our favorite sports stars and I was practically giving them away at rock bottom prices.  Well with my overhead being zero I could had sold them for a penny and technically made a profit, but greed and salesmanship got a hold of me and it became more about the war to be waged over the wager.  I gaged the interest of my classmates, using the knowledge I had learned on the playground to set prices for some of their favorite people.  Sure I could let a Jeff Kent card go for 50 cents, but if you wanted the Ken Griffey Jr, we are talking at least a couple Washington’s.  Being that all sports were covered in the sports cards meant that I didn’t simply have to offer up my wares to those whole liked baseball, but everyone who had a favorite athlete or two.  Hell I was able to strike up a deal for an Andre Agassi card for a paltry 75 cents.  With day one business coming to a close I walked away with $7.75, not to shabby for a kid working with just charisma and some crappy cards anyone could get if they went to the magazine rack.

Now what really was wetting my beak was the prospective for day two.  On the first day, I was unannounced and not a lot of kids had the coinage to make some deals, but now that they knew what I was carrying, they were rolling in with their billfold thick with chore earnings.  I could sense the palpable anxiety on my fellow students throughout the first half of the day.  Quick questions about what athletes I had for purchase that day caused stirs of kids wanting to pounce on the product before it got sold to a competing bidder. The swarm started to amass as I took up my place at the center of the lunchroom again.  As I spread my cards out over the table to give my clients a look at that days yield, a big hulking shadow came over me.  It was the Assistant Principle of the school, who scooped up my cards, grabbed my arm and escorted me into her office.  Apparently I was betrayed by one of my clients who asked his mom for some money to buy a Shawn Kemp card.  I don’t really blame the kid, Reign Man was hot in the streets back then.  I had to make restitution with all those who had bought from me and the remaining cards were just tossed in the garbage.  We live in America but apparently capitalism is frowned upon in the school system, I know I would be riding high in my luxury yacht right now if my business had been allowed to continue.



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