Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cutting back on cardboard clutter

I have a lot of cardboard in my house. I am not operating under any conscious plan to get rid of any of it. But I've been noticing that, subconsciously, I actually am cutting back.

I'm doing so by being more discriminating in what I want. Yeah, I'm avoiding ugly sets. I've been doing that since 2012 Topps, and the tradition has continued through this year's flagship and various unsightly offshoots like Gypsy Queen and Bowman.

But I've noticed I now don't even care about acquiring items that I cared about quite a bit just a few years ago.

I'll use some cards sent to me by Robert of $30 a Week Habit recently to demonstrate.

Back variations, for instance.

I've stopped putting them on my want list. It wasn't a conscious decision. My brain made the decision for me. In 2010, I was listing Dodgers mini wants by regular, A&G back, black borders, etc. Now my A&G mini wants are -- "Dodger minis, any kind. Done."

That doesn't mean I won't accept back variations such as these. It's just that I don't see myself ever going out of my way to look for one again.

Here's another one: refractors.

For years I struggled to identify refractors -- those ones from Bowman Chrome in particular kept me up nights. Was it refractor? Was it not a refractor? Hours spent tilting cards by the window. Would I ever come to bed?

I don't do that anymore.

If it's a refractor, fine. If it's not a refractor, fine. I've got a Dodger card of that set of that guy doing that thing. That's the end of the tale for me. No more seeking out refractors that basically look like the base version of the card.

Another parallel that I brush off these days: the gold foil parallels that you see in Stadium Club or the foil parallels you see in various sets. I don't care. When I'm searching for Dodger cards and those foiled-letter things pop up, I scan right past them. It's an unnecessary expense for my cardboard budget.

But I haven't advanced far enough where I ignore all parallels. Colored border parallels still get me, and I still gravitate toward them. They remain an impulse buy, and probably will always be attractive to me. So, in that way, the parallel monster has still got me.

But I notice some even more discriminating going on -- and this may be a monumental shift if it continues.

I am getting lazier and lazier with adding Dodger want lists for sets for which I have little use. GQ, Opening Day, hobby shop sets like Tribute, Bowman, it's getting later and later and later before you see a want list from me.

Do I still want all the Dodgers? Yeah. If I ask myself that question, the answer is still "yes." But my subconscious is trimming back. And someday -- soon -- this may be an upfront, conscious decision.

Do I really need every Dodger from every unappealing insert with the photo that's already been used on cards that I already own?

Probably not. I can feel the need to register every insert want waning.

Do I really need every non-logo'd Dodger from a Panini product, no matter how shiny-pretty they make it?

No, I don't. I've already stopped paying attention to what Dodgers are in some Panini products.

It's probably time to just focus on what's really, really cool. And that's because there is still a lot out there that I find really, really cool.

This is cool.

It's a 1997 Pinnacle insert that I've never seen before. It mimics a passport.

That's great. And well worth collecting. It doesn't quite make me want to run onto ebay and see what else is out there. But it's headed in that direction.

Super shiny, super colorful, super creative and appealing-looking cards. Yeah, that's well-worth collecting. Let me at them.

Inserts that are incredibly fun, that pay tribute to past sets that few know, that are attractive. Yup, when you start clearing out the clutter, you can decide what inserts are collectible ... and which ones aren't. Dodgers or no Dodgers.

Well-thought-out, themed, attractively-designed sets of the past. I'll even ignore the fact that the fuzzy Dodgers script gives me the willies. I've really got to get on finishing off the Dodgers from the '01 Legends of New York set.

Vintage sets are never clutter and will always be worth collecting. This is my primary focus, probably now more than ever.

It's so cool of Robert to find these four cards off my 1956 Topps want list. All in respectable condition.

And, yup, I don't care whether they're gray backs or white backs. I don't do that stuff no more.

My subconscious downsizing has come in handy quite a bit this year. After some early angst, I haven't even considered attempting to buy one of the 15 Dodgers' ToppsNow cards. (I would have spent over $150 now if I had no willpower!). My trips to the card aisle have been much less frequent. And I've been moving more of my money to online sites -- buying cards of the past -- more than I ever have before.

This is not very good news for the card companies who need you to buy the very latest. But I just don't want cards that I don't want sitting in my house anymore.

Yeah, I still would like all of your Dodgers. But I'm starting to think that's a young person's talk. And mindless accumulation is a young person's game.

You get to a certain age and all you can see is clutter.


  1. I know the feeling. I'm trying to clear out clutter myself. Got too many I don't want/need sitting around taking up valuable real estate in my monster boxes and binders. Started purging cards today, it felt kinda good.

  2. Glad they arrived safely. It also takes me longer to get Jays want lists updated on my blog.

    Also happy you liked the '56s; the one table I frequent at the monthly card show has quite a few of them, so I scroll through them and pick out one or 2 each month, just because...

  3. I came to the same realization recently. There's just way too much stuff out there to collect and not enough space. I've started to use my hard earned money on very specific cards that I really want, instead of stack and stacks of cards I kinda want.

  4. Excellent post. My thoughts exactly.

  5. There is so much out there. It's hard to focus. I really like those passport cards as well.