By David Yarger
Co-Host “The Chase”
The hobby of card collecting is a large community of people who enjoy possessing a diversity of sports, players, topics and more. Sometimes in the hobby, though, the demographic of collectors isn’t as diverse as the products collected.
On Wednesday, Julie Develin, Tai Fauci and Sara Layton joined “The Chase” as part of Women in the Hobby, a group that shines a light on women collectors in the collecting hobby.
The three are part of a group of women who embark to challenge the stereotypes that are seen in the hobby, for example, when someone thinks of the regular everyday collector, many tend to think of a Caucasian male strolling into a shop or walking the floor at shows.
The three have different backgrounds when it comes to their beginning in collecting. Layton said she really got into it recently, but she’s been around cards since her youth.
“My dad did collect when I was younger, but I was allowed to look, but not touch. So I never opened packs or did any of the fun stuff that people did as kids,” she said. “I didn’t exactly enjoy this hobby until recently.”
Layton added, Layton Sports Cards started in 2012 and that’s when she began to really gain interest in the hobby, before collecting in 2020.
Develin, with a laugh, said she began collecting thinking the cards would pay for her college, “but that was not the case.”
“I collected off and on through my teenage years, then I stopped for a little while when I went to college. But then I started again. It was the Stephen Strasburg hype that got me back into the hobby, big time,” Develin said.
She added that her friendship with Layton has only increased her love of the hobby.
Fauci added that she collected a lot as a kid and went to shows with her father, who was an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan.
“I got back into collecting through breaking,” Fauci said. “And then I ended up getting into the industry in 2016, like as a professional.”
The three added, the relationships and friendships produced from the hobby is there favorite aspects of it.
“In a world that’s so divided sometimes it feels that way, it’s always nice to have something that can bring so many people together,” Develin said.
As far as the current state of the hobby, Develin said it has come a long way, but there’s still room for improvement.
“When we talk about diversity, I think that is clearly something the hobby can improve on. … Generally what pops in your mind is white males are sports collectors. What I think is becoming abundantly clear, is that there are many, many different kinds of people, ages of people, etc. of collectors. And I think it’s important for us, as a hobby, to recognize when we ask ‘what can the hobby do better?’ ” Develin said. “There’s something for everyone in the hobby and I think that we as a whole need to take a more inclusive view of that. I think there’s a lot of judgment that goes on. … We generally surround ourselves with like-minded people and we have to realize there is more people out there than just us, more people with different opinions, etc.”
Develin and Fauci also mentioned a convention where they spoke on the topic of diversity, and they noticed the lack of it at the setting, as there were minimal women and people of color. Develin said, though, many people came up to her after the speech and wondered how they could get involved.
As far as the formation of Women in the Hobby, Fauci said the initiative really began in 2019 at the National. She said the trio began spitballing about the hobby and talking about how women and minorities in the card world are treated. She added that it was a toxic environment, but it has improved a little as the younger generations have come into the hobby.
“We talked about it and we were like well let’s start a group for women in the hobby. There’s a lot of women in manufacturing, there’s some women in shops, there’s a lot of female collectors who collect with us at Bullpen and Layton, because we’ve created an environment welcoming to that,” Fauci said.
She added that it’s really grown from the spoken idea into a larger community that enjoys highlighting women in the hobby.
Develin added that the group is not meant to be exclusive. They are calling on men and businesses, as well, to be advocates to enhance the Women in the Hobby goal. Some examples would be monitoring chat rooms of breaks and monitoring for foul language.
“If you’re listening to this and wondering why this group needs to exist, all I’ll tell you is that every time, I’d say nine out of 10 times, we allow someone into our group – they request it – they will put a post thanking us for creating the group and thanking us for providing a space where they can come and feel like they can ask questions. There are a lot of questions that women and men have, and I think that sometimes we’re not quite as confident asking questions for fear of being seen as being uneducated or ‘what are you doing in the hobby?’ ” Develin said.
Layton added, she has noticed rude comments while women are breaking at Layton and it proves why a group like Women in the Hobby is important.
Develin and Women in the Hobby will be present at the National in booth 5020 across from WhatNot. Layton said the booth will have one to two athletes present doing some signings, as well as pack wars and hobby hunts for kids all run by women in the industry.