Brent Williams is a very active, energetic and enthusiastic player in the sports card hobby. Most of us know him and his business - "BrentAndBecca" - in several different mediums. He regularly reviews Topps products and comments on the various attributes of the product breaks he conducts from the perspectives of both a collector and "dealer". Is that term accurate? Topics such as profitability, overall enjoyment and collectability are usually the heart and soul of his articles and I enjoy them a lot. I try not to get too bogged down in the financial details of our hobby but with the varying costs of different products and conservative status of most family budgets these days (including my own) - a little reading and research can go a long way towards maximizing our enjoyment and comfort as the consuming collector. His reviews can be found at the Cardboard Connection throughout the year as the 'collecting calendar' progresses through various sports and Topps releases.
BrentAndBecca also has a very active presence on Twitter as, wait for it.......... @brentandbecca (https://mobile.twitter.com/brentandbecca)! Looks like some great minds think alike when choosing twitter handles and website and blog names! He tweets pretty regularly to promote upcoming products or highlight interesting items in his inventory. He's a collector like us, so some of the cardboard he encounters finds its way into his own collection but the rest of it is packaged up nicely and available for the rest of us via his Ebay Store. One thing that I find to be really useful is Brent's frequent twitter banter with the folks at Topps. I can usually gleam some very insightful information and updates from their conversations, thereby saving both time and money on my end. That's a win-win - and absolutely free.
You can read much more about Brent and how his business got started in an archived CC article, so I won't get too bogged down in the details of recreating that wheel. Let's move on to my own experience with BrentAndBecca.
I tried out several different collecting approaches last year, as I was on a mission to compile a very diverse assortment of the year's sets for my son's future enjoyment. Even though I enjoy hand-building complete sets pack by pack, it's way too expensive for me to do that with every release. So, I tried to save some funds by buying one of the complete sets from a dealer (Seller?) like BrentAndBecca. The set I was looking for? 2012 Topps Heritage. I had purchased several blasters of '11 Heritage the year before and, while I am now closer than ever to complete my building of that set (YES!), I had a run of bad luck and suffered through a high duplication rate and lack of "hits" amongst the blasters I bought. It's all random and part of the chase, but it left a bad (placebo effect) taste in my mouth. Therefore, 2012 Heritage would be bought outright as a complete set. My E-Bay searches provided plenty of options, as you might imagine. I considered several but definitely felt very comfortable with the company I was most familiar with, B&B.
His prices were never THE lowest - depending on how you look at it, how much time you were willing to spend and how much risk you wanted to eliminate. Sure, there were some sets up for bid that were a few bucks lower than B&B's no-haggle, "Buy It Now" price point. But most of these came with shipping costs that were just as much if not higher than B&B AND......they were open bids. So you never knew where the final sales price would fall. Brent Williams and his team conducts an incredible amount of research and is usually quite fair with their assessment of value and price for the sets they collate and sell from their break efforts. In the end, price was definitely a big PLUS for B&B and it carries the largest weight with me for consideration.
But what about quality? Will the cards be packaged well? Shipped quickly?
Since this was my first experience with BrentAndBecca, I would have to find out for myself when my Heritage set arrived. The good news was that customer reviews and Ebay feedback scores were all very positive and I detected no negatives for them when it came to collectors' experience with purchasing collated sets.
So, I rolled the dice and took the plunge. Within 7 working days of the product's release date, the package arrived! Here it was:
|Highlighter Provided By Ryan's Pitch|
Exactly what you want to see from a dealer. It doesn't have to be an official USPS box - but that certainly doesn't hurt. And while it's common practice for us individual collectors to recycle packaging supplies in an effort to keep costs down, I didn't want to see my Heritage set arrive in a shoe box. The box was neatly and thoroughly sealed. Looking good!
Amongst the packing worms and bubble wrap were these two card boxes. The exact "count" sizes elude me but I am sure some of the astute collectors out there can size them up pretty easily. The fact that two boxes were used threw me off a little bit as I had ordered one complete set. Had there been a mistake made?
Of course not! The two boxes contained my complete base set of Heritage. The 'breaking up' of the set into two separate boxes allowed BrentAndBecca to fit my order into the USPS box pictured above and may very well have saved them (and therefore, me) some shipping costs. I would like to point out that both card boxes were brand-spanking new and in perfect condition. That counts. And while I will definitely have to say that dealing with two boxes is a hassle for me, it's because of a personal preference for having sets in a single box. A reason for visiting a card shop or ordering card supplies? Always welcome. In the end, definitely not a deal breaker - particularly if it saved everybody money.
|Collector Weirdness - The Smell Was Even Better Than You Think|
Finally, here's a peek at how the cards were collated and packaged inside. They were VERY neatly handled and placed into both boxes, resulting in perfect alignment. While that's a fantastic sight for my OCD, I think it provides some legitimate support for the cards as they are shipped and helps to prevent the damage of edges and corners belonging to cards should they have been out-of-line with the rest of the set and poking out. And just for good measure, BrentAndBecca surrounded the wide-side of the cards with strips of bubble mailer, to secure the set even more.
I'm still assessing my enjoyment of the various collecting methods I used (and continue to use!) for chasing last year's sets. I have every intention of going through the entire '12 Heritage set and checking out each card for appreciation...but I have yet to do so. I can't say the same for the other sets I am building for 2012. Might be something to that!
But as for my experience with BrentAndBecca - it was a great experience and I would recommend them without hesitation to my fellow collectors. Great quality control with their products and it's obvious they appreciate the cardboard just as much as we do. Again, I would also encourage you to follow @BrentAndBecca on Twitter and check out Brent's columns when he takes a break from busting cases of Topps to put pen to paper. I think you will find it to be both enjoyable and well worth your collecting time.
Thanks for the excellent service, Brent.
Thanks for reading!