The Best Of… a Hobby Heavyweight follow up interview…

About a year ago Brian Gray, owner of Leaf Trading Cards answered a few questions about his cardboard career.

Last week he was nice enough to answer a few more. In particular a few questions about his popular Best Of line of products.

K-Tell us about where the idea for the Best Of series of products came from?
BG-Saw extremely low end products like this in the market (Tri-Star,etc) and believed strongly that a market for high end existed!

K-How do you go about acquiring the cards?
BG-I am at most major shows and a buying machine on ebay!

K-How many of the cards do you buy graded and how many are raw that you submit for grading?

K-On a quick aside, what grading service do you prefer and why?
BG-BGS is strong for turnaround times.

K-How much fun is it to buy all those cards?
BG-Fun, but nervous as I often have $500,000-$1,000,000 tied up in buybacks….

K-It would seem the margins on a product like this would be thin. Can you say how much you spend per box on average compared to the retail cost?
BG-We easily spend the highest percentage in the industry. Easily!

K-I know there has been some less than nice feedback about the value of the content of some boxes. What has been your response, and do you think that feedback is fair?
BG-I am very upfront that the worst buyback is $40-50, while the best is often $15,000-$25,000!

K-In your opinion what have been a few of the coolest cards included in the series?
BG-Exquisite Lebron
1952 Signed Mantle (finest ever copy)
79-80 OPC Gretzky BGS 9.5
2010 Chrome Strasburg Superfractor 1/1!

K-As a collector what would you rather pull from a Best Of box; an older rookie card of a guy like Nolan Ryan, or a modern auto rookie of a guy like Jason Heyward?
BG-I go young star as I am a bit of a gambler and love the volatility!

K-In feedback from collectors what do they seem to prefer?

K-What about the certified rookie autos of older players like Elway and Tom Seaver, how do those seem to rate with collectors versus the straight graded cards?
BG-All levels seem to be well desired

K-With the rookie autos, how many do you buy certified and how many do you get signed and then submit for certification?
BG-Majority, we submit

K-In the first release of Best Of Baseball there were those “stone” autos. What was the story with those?
stone auto
BG-They were signed plastic plates designed to be part of signed statues.

K-Have there been any cards you acquired for the set that you decided to keep instead?
BG-Not recently.

K-Popularity wise how does the Best Of series compare to the rest of your products?
BG-VERY popular brands.

K-Have you thought about doing an ultra high-end version, or a version focused on just vintage?
BG-Yes, both are in the works.

K-What are your thoughts on some of the imitators out there such as Heroes of Sports?
BG-Customers should be VERY cautious whom they trust to deliver these sorts of products. Leaf has far more skins in the game than any of its recent new “competitors”

K-Any recent purchases that will be showing up in future releases you would be willing to share?
BG-Stay tuned to our website!

K-Will we be seeing a T206 Honus Wagner anytime soon?
BG-Not yet… our production is far too small to absorb this sort of cost!

Another big thanks to Brian!


3 responses to “The Best Of… a Hobby Heavyweight follow up interview…

  1. I know that there are some people that like to rip Leaf and Brian Gray because of the way he comes up with product outside of the norm but they don’t realize that Brian is a very personable guy, he stays active in forums and blogs and is probably more connected to the hobby than any other company personality (outside of maybe Tracy Hackler).

  2. I agree, I wanted to make sure to comment on the same thing. In light of Topps completely dropping the ball on innovation and customer service, it’s really refreshing to see a guy as accessible as BG when it comes to feedback and solving issues. I know Leaf is able to do things differently due to their size relative to a big gun like Topps, but it still makes a huge difference. I may not agree with everything BG and Leaf do, but I consider them a huge positive in the hobby, especially as it’s been plagued by Topps’ (and to a lesser degree, Panini’s and UD’s) issues the last few years.

    And thanks for the cool and insightful (if terse) interview!

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