Mike Jaspersen has been in the business of trading cards for 51 years now, but by the time 1970 came around and he did his first trade show, the Jasperson family had already logged almost 40 years of experience in the industry. Mike’s father was an industry pioneer, collecting as far back as 1933, creating a mail-in subscription service in the 50s to help spread the hobby around the country. When Mike’s interest in the hobby was piqued, it became a father-son activity. Now the tradition is carrying on in the next generation of Jaspersens as his youngest son Nick is doing his part to revolutionize the industry, one break at a time.
For Mike, his lifelong passion and family business was a bit of a punchline as he courted his wife when her father asked, “How (are) you going to support my daughter selling baseball cards?”
But that’s exactly what he did over the next 40 years in a journey that took him all over the world, as his entrepreneurial spirit had him continually innovating and growing, opening stores, selling stock via mail order, and traveling to attend trade shows. At one point, he moved the family to Texas and took a job at industry powerhouse Beckett, then to New York for a job that landed him at Topps for 14 years. Now, the family resides in the comfy beachside confines of Hermosa Beach, California, and the lucrative world of Instagram Live and Youtube, thanks to Nick’s keen eye for new industry trends.
“I just see it as a different way of selling cards,” said Mike. “Nick had the brains to put it all together.”
Nick took an interest in breaking as a high schooler in Redondo Beach, and after some convincing with his parents, began doing his own breaks in the family garage on Ustream. “A lot of the old guys in the industry didn’t like it for a while,” Nick said. “You’d go to the National, and if you were a case breaker, they’d give you dirty looks.”
But the Jaspersen family remained steadfast, trusting the teaching of their teenaged industry prodigy, and their community of collectors continued to develop online. “There’s a huge rush of joining a break,” Nick said, citing social media and camaraderie with their network of collectors for the surge of success with their breaks.
“The hardest part is to get the product,” Mike lamented about Jaspys daily breaks online. The five-person crew includes Nick and Joe Lee, the company’s first-ever employee and the face of the breaks online, and makes up a third of Jaspys’ entire workforce. “The easiest thing is to be a breaker,” Mike said as Nick laughed at the notion. Still, the process includes sorting, shipping, handling an entire live broadcast production, a pricing and cataloging process, along with looking for new ways to innovate the trend that is taking over the industry. “We’re busy morning to night.”
While some industry mainstays may get territorial, Mike welcomes the new collectors as the industry explodes in popularity. “I don’t mind the outsiders and influencers coming in,” Mike said. “The more people that come in, the more people that sell cards, as long as they do it the right way, the bottom line is it’s good for everybody.” As Jaspys looks at the business’s future and new ways to innovate as they’ve been on the forefront of breaks, repacks, and possibly creating their own products as ways to stay ahead of the curve as the hobby continues to explode. But Mike stresses there still needs to be a point of entry for new collectors. “You have to still have that affordability,” Mike said. “Everybody can’t buy $700,000 Jordans. To continue to grow, it’s a challenge to bring affordability too.”
But even with savvy innovation, Mike keeps Jaspys an industry mainstay with some old lessons he learned long ago from another industry mainstay with a famous family name, Jim Beckett. “You treat everybody the same,” Mike said about the lessons he learned in his time working side by side with Jim while he was at Beckett. “(Whether) they spend $10 or 10,000.”