The sports card entrepreneurs : Box Breakers

Written by Dano Laurel

On any given day- sports card collectors are logging-in to box-break websites in the hopes of landing some cardboard treasure.  For a team or player collector, this is a great opportunity to only purchase players you actually collect. It’s also a thrill if you win a team you don’t normally collect. Box Breaks have become more popular because you don’t have to spend the same amount of money on a full box to get the cards you want.  It also saves you money once you realize the team you collect doesn’t have a substantial amount of cards in a set. Such as the case with the Houston Astros being eliminated from 2012 Topps Chrome. With all of the product that box breakers open there have been some substantial pulls caught on video, and it’s definitely a good show if the people in the chat room are winning great cards.

Box Breaking has become big business over the last year. Channels are popping up all over streaming video sites like, UStream or Blog.Tv, and more collectors are trying their hand at hosting box breaks to break even or to make a profit.  Even sports card manufactures, like Topps and Panini America, have taken notice; showing signs of encouragement for some of the top box and case breakers. It’s definitely a facet of the hobby that has changed collecting moving forward.

With rapid growth, some backlash is expected.  With each person trying to start hosting a break, collectors are becoming more vocal about expectations and standards. Even some of the bigger case-break hosts have had to defend why they charge what they do.

For the people who run Live Case Break and Mojobreak, being collectors themselves, they understand what it’s like in the person’s shoes who’s watching the break unfold. Certain things ring true for both groups like fairness, honesty and great customer service. For Live Case Break, a major-league baseball player helps too.

Sports Card Magazine was able to interview the creators of two of popular box breaking sites to find out what else contributes to the successes of each respective brand.

When did you start collecting and who do you like to collect?

Tim Harmer (Live Case Break): We’ve both been collecting since kids. I collect Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, any Toronto Blue Jays, and Duke Blue Devils and select stars of the 90’s. Larry collects Dustin Pedroia, Dwayne Wade and Lebron James.

Doug Caskey (Mojobreak): I started collecting really young. My parents would put together each Topps baseball set for me and put them in a binder under the tree each Christmas. My dad and I really started collecting hard in 1991 when Topps released Stadium Club. The last pack I purchased was in 1993 [then starting again] in 2008 the hobby changed so much. The cards were amazing to me! The serial numbers, auto, memorabilia pieces. I bought a Beckett and wound up buying a box of 2008 Sweet Spot pulling a Don Mattingly auto numbered to fifteen. The rush I had gotten from the pack got me hooked.

How did you first hear about the concept of box breaks?

TH: I heard about box breaks from eBay. [I noticed] very few honest sellers, was scammed multiple times by different sellers, so in 2011 I decided to start selling them myself. I knew I could make it into a professional business and do a better job than the people I had broken with. Larry was a fellow breaker also fed up, so I partnered up with Larry in early 2012 and together we’ve built LiveCaseBreak.com.

 

DC: Dan and I were always looking for ways to be a part of this hobby. We did a couple live breaks online with people on UStream or Blog.TV and decided this would be a fun and exciting way to contribute to this hobby. We developed and executed our Mojobreak idea in 2009-10 and learned as we went, but just kept everything honest and transparent.

What made you decide this is what you wanted to do?

TH: We saw that there was a demand for a professional service for box/case breaks. There was nobody doing it on that level, so we drafted a concept and went with it. There are so many scams out there today, that’s why we started LCB. [We want] to give people a professional, reliable company to run group breaks for them.

DC: Everyone wants to be able to do what they love every day.  Doing box/case breaks doesn’t seem like work to me.  Even the grueling amounts of shipping we do, I still love it. To this day I’m still excited for every break we do.

What do you think is most important to making a good box break?

TH: The chance at getting the case hit of that one huge card you’re personally chasing for your PC at a fraction of the cost. We offer services including “skunk protection” and “buyback services”. Most of our breaks offer skunk protection to guarantee you at least hit something of value. Buyback services, where if you hit a card you don’t want, we will buy them back from you after the break for store credits.  We run all sorts of promotions, we run card giveaways and we offer an entirely free case break once a month, or so, for our customers that have registered in our store, email, or twitter/facebook.

We show the case being opened and the boxes never leave, they aren’t doctored, searched, or tampered with. We do everything live. Being live is a huge difference maker, there is so much room for scamming with pre-recorded breaks.

We offer free shipping and combinable shipping throughout the week. We ship all the cards from a break to you, and we allow you the option to donate your base cards as well. We take those cards and donate them to children’s hospitals and elementary schools. There is nothing quite like knowing some extra base cards put a smile on a child’s face in a hospital somewhere.

DC: Everyone feeling like they got something. We want people to have the best box/case break experience as possible, always putting yourself in the participant’s shoes.  We fully disclose everything, i.e., all base cards are shipped, breaks are always live and scheduled in advance. All team names are read before the break.  We also like to provide something for everyone, whether it is a single box break for $5, multi-box break, and big case breaks. Also important is free stuff.  We giveaway as much as humanly possible. We are always running free pack contests and anything we get free we give it away. We want to earn people’s trust first.

LCB, how did Brad Ziegler get involved in the case breaking process-

TH: We got Ziegler involved because he recognized our professionalism and he loves cards. Upon learning of his interest in cards, we invited him to join a break of ours. His first break with us was 2011 Prime Cuts; he purchased the Dodgers and he hit a very nice Jackie Robinson relic numbered 42/42. (Editor’s note: Ziegler collects Robinson for his personal collection).

Afterwards we had a phone conversation, then Larry and I flew to Miami the following weekend to meet with him for breakfast. We talked about LCB, collecting, the hobby in general and eventually ironed our plans for him to run breaks for us on his favorite high-end products.  It has grown since then, and we are the only company with professional athletes opening product for us. We aim to spread to all sports and incorporate more athletes into breaking.

Where do you see yourselves going in the future?

TH: The future for LCB is infinite.  We have grown at a rapid pace since officially becoming LCB in early 2012.  We will be attending the industry summit in March 2013 and would love to run a presentation there as well. We attended the National this year for the first time as a company and had a great time. [We were able to] show off the Babe Ruth bat knob that one of our customers hit. We have huge plans for the Chicago national next year- we want to do something that has never been done before.

DC: That’s a good question. We want to just continue taking care of our fans and continually improving the end user-experience.  As long as we treat people like friends, the sky is the limit.

 

Special thanks to Tim and Doug for taking the time to do this for Sports Card Magazine.

As with any products or services available for sell, it’s important to shop around.  LCB and Mojobreak are not the only two places that do breaks, but they have set a very high standard.  It is important to know  the rules of each business running breaks and what other customers have to say about their experiences.

Want to join a case or box break? Visit them here:

Live case break is on twitter (@livecasebreak) and its website is here.

Mojobreak is on twitter (@mojobreak_com)and its website is here.

Dano Laurel is on twitter (@danolaurel)

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