The world of card collecting has undergone a massive resurgence in the last five years. While “the hobby” has had many peaks and valleys in its nearly century-long history, the digital age has propelled the practice of card collecting to unseen heights. Five years ago, the National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) greeted roughly 45,000 sports-memorabilia fans at its doors in Cleveland— a number that exceeded the expectations of organizers at the time. Fast-forward to July 2023 in Chicago, the NSCC eclipsed 100,000 attendees in a historic weekend, surpassing the previous record that held strong for over 30 years.
What changed? One company that opened the realm of possibilities was Dappz Sports, when founder Mathew “Dappz” McGuckin took to his bedroom to live-stream every step of how he was flipping ungraded sports cards for profit. Soon enough, he wasn’t just opening boxes for himself, but also for his viewers who would send him money to see if they could strike gold as well. As business took off, Dappz was selling cards, memorabilia, and collectibles directly through the 24/7 live-stream and the phenomenon of live-shopping in the hobby was born. Now his sights are on more than the hobby.
“In many ways, we are the most successful live shopping company because we were first to the party,” said McGuckin. “Everyone was using TikTok to make content but few were figuring out how to monetize on there. I thought ‘hey, if people are watching me do this live, I could just sell to them directly through this same stream.’ My audience and customers were already there so why not just make it as simple for them as possible?”
While live-shopping had seen its successes internationally, companies weren’t truly utilizing this method in the U.S. until the pandemic forced companies to adapt. Now, live-shopping is quickly becoming the new wave of e-commerce — estimated to now be a multi-billion-dollar industry by Coresight Research. The seamless merging of entertainment value and instantaneous purchasing has taken the industry by storm, with the likes of TikTok and eBay hopping on board to create live shopping experiences. When it comes to TikTok shop, Dappz Sports tested the waters with success long before TikTok created this specific feature.
“People forget that TikTok was sort of looked down upon back in 2019 and 2020,” McGuckin continued. “They received a bunch of bad press and companies sort of had one foot in, one foot out. But we saw the opportunity to sell on the platform because that’s where users’ attention was. If there’s an audience there, there’s money to be made. Now everybody is jumping on TikTok Shop, which is a beautiful thing, but Dappz Sports built and created our own platform on TikTok long before the feature was introduced.”
Despite not needing a TikTok shop to successfully sell on the platform, Dappz Sports has utilized the feature to remain the unrivaled leader in the live-shopping market in the U.S. — announcing today that the company remains number one in the country when it comes to sales through the platform. Through this business model, Dappz Sports is expected to surpass $20 million gross sales by the end of 2023.
“We set our sights on doing ambitious things and hitting new heights this year. The $20 million milestone is simply a reflection of our commitment to innovation, customer engagement, and pioneering trends that move the e-commerce landscape forward,” said McGuckin in a press release. That commitment to innovation has allowed the company to collaborate with some of the most influential voices in the hobby from Gary Vee to Steve Aoki, while forming powerful partnerships with eBay, Topps, TikTok, and Fanatics to solidify its status as a trend-setter in the hobby.
“We’ve had to be innovative with how we sell since the beginning in order to make an impact,” McGuckin continued. “We combined separate products together to create a new product that did not exist at the time. We figured things out the hard way, learning as we went along because we had no playbook. But that’s what allowed us to really shake things up in the hobby. We knew there was untapped potential and thought to leverage live-shopping before our peers did.”
With such momentum going its direction, the sky’s the limit for McGuckin and the Dappz team. With over a million social media followers across all platforms, the company has come a long way from McGuckin’s early days in his bedroom. He envisions a day where Dappz Sports has a warehouse with hundreds of different streams running simultaneously, expanding to markets beyond trading cards. Despite ambitious goals for the future, McGuckin is taking it one day at a time for now.
“Our goal is to educate and entertain every single day,” he said. “We don’t want to look too far out. Every day we show up and build as much as we can. This is just the beginning and there’s a lot more work to do.”
For those in the LA area, you can visit the Dappz Sports shop in-person at 7578 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 — open Thursday through Sunday from 12 to 5. Fans can also catch the Dappz team at their very own booth at ComplexCon in Long Beach on the weekend of November 18-19 and LA Comic Con on December 1-3.