The Business Around The Business

When I was a kid I collected comic books.  There were some I read and some I collected just because I liked the artwork, but my main goal (along with a whole mess of other ventures in those days) was collecting them with the hope that one day they would be worth a ton of money.

After weekly shopping trips to the comic book store with my friends, I would carefully protect my comics with the special holders and backing boards. I’d also do things in support of my habit like get the updated pricing magazine that came out every few weeks to do a current evaluation of my collection.

That was well over twenty years ago.  Then, a few weeks ago I had the random thought that I would look up some of the prices of the comics I had to see what their current value would be if I went to sell them today. Needless to say, even though I had some pretty decent selections, I wouldn’t be a mega-millionaire if I went to sell them today.

Which got me thinking: where was the real money and value generated from collecting comic books, baseball cards, etc.?  

The real money was generated in supporting the collecting behavior.  If I spent more time finding ways to help my friends with their collections, I probably would have made much more than in actually collecting myself. All of those protective bags and backings, the storage boxes, and even the french fries and sodas my friends and I stopped for on the way home from the comic book store was the real way for someone to make money from our collecting. The four bucks per month, by every kid who collected comics, for the pricing guide was another secondary product (and industry) that sprung up around the collecting.

This is true in many places. Is more money generated from the actual stocks in the stock market or from the countless industries and offerings supporting people who want to buy and sell stocks?

What business could you develop supporting the perceived value of another business?

P.S. After lugging my comic book collection around in boxes between my first two apartments after college (yes, I kept them ‘in storage’ at my parent’s house through high school and college) I did decide to sell them on ebay.  Three quick thoughts:

  1. wow, ebay or the internet wasn’t even ‘a thing’ when I started collecting back in grade school
  2. I sold them in bulk as 1 whole set because I didn’t want to go through the detail of individual listings management and therefore had to knowingly sell them at a steep volume/non-individualized discount, and
  3. the real value in my whole experience with collecting comics came from the fun I had on those weekly shopping trips and the discovery of seeing what’s new at the store. Those memories are priceless and why I will highly recommend my kids start any kind of collecting of something they want.

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