The card-grading segment of the hobby is still booming.
And two of the top third-party grading companies are bursting at the seams.
Both Beckett and Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) are in the midst of building new facilities to handle all the demand now and into the future.
Jeromy Murray, President, Beckett Collectibles, opened up to Sports Collectors Digest about Beckett’s short- and long-term plans. He wants to be transparent with the card-grading community.
“We’ve heard it for a while, ‘Hey, nothing’s coming from Beckett. Beckett’s quiet,’ this and that,” Murray said. “It’s one of those things where we didn’t really have much to go out there and report, because we didn’t have anything that we were confident about yet. We’ve got a ton of stuff working and stuff that puts a smile on my face right now that’s really exciting that we haven’t been able to share yet and we’re close to being able to share some really big things happening behind the doors.”
Collectors Holdings, the parent company of PSA, has signed a long-term lease for approximately 130,000 square feet of office space at Harborside 3 in Jersey City, N.J.
The new facility will help PSA expand its authentication and grading services for sports cards, tickets, autographs and more. The facility, across the river from New York City, should help PSA expand its authentication and grading staff.
Also See: PSA leases new East Coast facility
SUBHEAD: BECKETT QUADRUPLES SPACE
When Beckett moved into its current building in Dallas around 10 years ago, Murray never thought the company would outgrow its headquarters. Then COVID hit and the massive rush of cards to be graded slammed Beckett.
Something had to be done, so it sought a new facility.
“We made due with what we had,” Murray said. “It’s been a real labor to find a spot that made sense for us to move and convenient for our current staff to be there. We didn’t want to move a crazy distance away.”
In April, Beckett will shift to its new headquarters, about six miles away from its current location. The building will be nearly four times larger and create more space for functionality, including for grading.
“The building we’re in right now is bursting at the seams and for the past year we’ve sort of looked for the right location, the right time to make this move and it’s upon us,” Murray said. “It’s really, really exciting. We get to go in there and create this space the way we need to. We’ve got space for even more expansion and opportunities and more things that will be announced here in the next couple of weeks or months as we get into spring and summer.”
Since the National Sports Collectors Convention at the end of July 2021, BGS has doubled its grading staff.
Collectors have stepped forward to apply for grading positions, but Murray noted a lot of local card shop owners have reached out directly to BGS with names of good candidates.
“One of the things that we’re working on right now is sort of a referral fee for shops,” Murray said. “Hey, if you bring us some candidates — we’re not looking for your employees, those are the good guys that you work with — but we’ve got a kid coming in saying, ‘Man, I’m good at this and I’d really like to do more about this.’”
With the new facility, more space and ongoing hiring of graders, Beckett Grading Service is planning to have its backlog completed by the end of May, Murray said.
Once millions of cards behind, that figure is now in the hundreds of thousands.
“The light is bright at the end of that tunnel,” Murray said.
The backlog has been hanging over Beckett’s head for over a year and a half. Murray and his staff want to make sure the company can stay on pace and never put itself into that type of hole again.
“Number one is the expansion and we’ve got more room to continue to hire more people, to have more equipment there, to have more logistics there that we get stuff in and out much quicker,” Murray said. “We’re also going to monitor what comes in and out, so we don’t get in this situation again. We’re really going to do our best to push everybody to use that online submission form, and use that so we know what’s coming in there. So when we say, ‘OK, we’ve got to turn the faucets off now and not get water just blasting and filling up that tub again like we did.’
“I think two years ago we just, we all sort of took it for granted and just said, ‘This is amazing.’ All this stuff keeps coming. We didn’t sort of think of the repercussions if we kept taking stuff like that. We’ve learned our lesson on that — I’ll say me and Beckett specifically — and how we need to regulate that.”
On March 1, Beckett fully opened its Standard service. Maxed at 100 cards per submission, it costs $50 for subgrades and $30 for no subgrades.
“This is the perfect thing where when we see the amount of orders coming in, we may say, ‘OK, for the month, this is turned off,’” Murray said. “I think PSA is doing something similar to that where they have a certain number that people can submit, and that’s what we’re going to do as well.”
Beckett’s lowest tiered service level, Economy, is not back to being offered yet. That’s still a big part of the backlog, so the company needs to get that resolved.
“Our goal is to have a different product, a different service level that’s a little bit more cost efficient for some of these cards and customers that say, ‘Hey, I can’t submit these cards for say $50 a card,’” Murray said. “I’ve said it before, I want to be able to reach customers at whatever level the hobby that they’re in. I don’t want this just to be for the elite, high-end cards that are $100-plus, $250 to have something graded. That’s not the plan at all. I want your $5 cards, I want your $5 million cards.”