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Collectors, business owners talk impact of NFL Draft amid rise of sports trading card industry

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Posted at 8:49 PM, Apr 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-27 21:49:40-04

LENEXA, Ks — New market research shows the trading card industry will be worth over $98 billion by 2027. To put the spike into perspective, it was worth $13 billion in 2019.

“We’re anxious and excited to see what that sort of traffic looks like, but I mean like I said, it’s our audience that’s come to town here,” said Tyler Gratwick, co-owner of a sports memorabilia store called The Art of Sports.

Gratwick and his father, Trey, opened their business during the height of the pandemic.

They were both working in industries that were deeply impacted by COVID-19 and lost their jobs.

The NFL Draft coming to Kansas City is a win for their young business.

“It’s been awesome, it’s just been a great boost,” Gratwick said. “I would assume that it would double to triple a normal weekend.”

The co-owners are making the most of every opportunity as it is not often one of the biggest stages in sports happen right in their backyard.

They made sure to stock their shelves and check it twice, as an event like this will not only bring in regulars but the rookies as well.

“It’s a form of investment that you can hold and it’s more fun than the stock or mutual fund or something like that. Its tangible. I think the other reason is people like to bet on sports players’ performance,” Gratwick. “As long as you’re buying the things that you like, and not worrying about it from a monetary standpoint anything like that, you’ll learn, you’ll grow a collection, you’ll have fun with it, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Geordie Waldman is one of the regulars at the shop. He has been collecting Panini cards since he was five-years-old.

One of this proudest moments was getting his hands on a rare Mahomes — one of only 299 in existence.

“It was really exciting. I’ve been waiting for it for so long, when I had it, it was the card that completed the collection at the time,” Waldman said.

The 2023 NFL Draft experience is sponsored by Panini America this year, one of the most popular trading card brands in the world.

KSHB 41 talked to three friends from Pittsburg, Kansas, attending the fan experience, who hope to walk away with some autographs this year.

“We’ve been waiting for this forever. I mean we’ve been talking about it since last year, we really didn’t know if it was gonna come, last minute we was like its free, we’re gonna give it a shot,” Troy Sullivan said.

Sullivan has found his community in KCMO, along all the lines of collectors alike.

“When you love something, you don’t mind waiting for it,” Sullivan said.