The year 2020 will largely be remembered for the COVID-19 global pandemic. It’s been one for the record books, although these are the statistics no one ever wants to record. However, as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that people shelter-in-place to prevent the spread of the virus and await a vaccine, it was the hobby that received an unforeseen shot in the arm.
As a result of the stay-at-home orders, people everywhere found themselves sequestered. They could either work from home, look for a new job from home, or rediscover what they already had at home. By virtue of their circumstances, many chose the latter option as a form of spring cleaning as they rummaged through attics, garages, footlockers, closets and dresser drawers to unearth hundreds of thousands of sports relics. Trading cards (singles, packs and boxes), ticket stubs, signed memorabilia, even Type 1 photos quickly became a priority. A collective rationale occurred – maybe it was an epiphany – as many decided to get their items authenticated and graded after all these years. Some were anxious to liquidate, while others wanted to preserve their rediscovered items for posterity.
Onslaught of submissions
In addition to the rise in attic discoveries, 2020 also ushered in a significant increase to the attention paid to new card releases. In-store and online, new product was being purchased, opened and shipped to PSA for grading at levels never seen before. The trends and the values were moving daily for both modern and vintage cards, sports and non-sports. More people collecting cards equated to more people choosing to grade.
Whatever the incentive, the submission floodgates opened as the hobby caught fire. PSA already had a backlog of submissions and now faced an even greater onslaught. During the third week of March, based on state-ordered mandates, PSA shut down operations in both its California and New Jersey offices. No one was clear on the timeframe, but in early April, adhering to new guidelines proposed by the CDC that included wearing masks, practicing social distancing, using hand sanitizer and frequently washing one’s hands, PSA started to slowly bring staffers back to its California headquarters. But the writing was the wall; despite our best efforts in-house, we needed additional help. With submissions pouring in at a record pace, the operations department was taxed to the max, so we started to ramp up hiring efforts.
Expansion is underway
Fast forward eight months to December and the PSA landscape has changed dramatically. Since April, the company has hired more than 120 additional employees, most notably in five vital areas of the business: receiving, research, specs, grading and sealing. In late August, the company hosted a virtual career fair that attracted more than 700 applicants, several of whom found jobs. Further hiring efforts ensued across social media channels and through local colleges and universities.
What’s more, in early October, Collectors Universe, PSA’s parent company, announced it had secured additional office space next to its existing facility, thus doubling its operational footprint to 125,625 square feet without the need to relocate. More submissions combined with more personnel require more space; it’s just that simple. With the additional real estate and more hands on deck, we can make greater progress on tackling the backlog and improving turnaround times.
With the incredible upsurge the hobby is experiencing, growing pains are inevitable, but PSA will continue to make the moves necessary in 2021 and beyond to service the demands of our increasing customer base. With more collectors working from home with more time to focus on The Hobby, we expect submissions to continue to climb. If you’re looking for an opportunity in the hobby you love, maybe 2021 is the year you start working at PSA?