By Sal Barry
Moving to a new home is a stressful time – even more stressful if you also have a collection that needs to be moved. In a perfect world, you buy a house and then start filling it with sports cards and other treasures, without ever having to worry about getting your collection safely from Point A to Point B.
But things don’t always happen that way. Maybe you rediscovered collecting a few years after college, dug up your old collection out of your parents’ basement, and took it back to your apartment to rekindle your interest. Or maybe you sold your house for that bigger and better house. Regardless of the reason, when you move, you want to move your collection without it getting damaged. After living in the same place for 12 years, I recently had to relocate myself and my sports card collection to a new home. Here are four tips on how to do it safely and effectively.
1. Get organized
This almost goes without saying, but a little organization goes a long way. If you have the time and room, several weeks before a move is a great time to sort your collection, as it will make packing and unpacking easier. Gather up all of the same type of collectibles and get them into one area so that you can pack them together. Many collectors, myself included, have a habit of stashing things here and there. For example, I had some hockey pucks displayed on a shelf, more pucks in a box in my closet, and even more pucks in a 1,600-count card Shoe Storage Box that was stashed with my cards. Once I got all my pucks in a row, I realized that I’d need a heavy-duty box with handles to move them in.
It is best to box similar items together for two reasons. First, they pack well together and reinforce each other. In the case of my hockey pucks, they were all heavy and weren’t going to damage each other if packed right. Second, unpacking is so much easier when you have all of the same type of item together. A little time spent upfront will save you from having to go through 10 “miscellaneous” boxes later.
2. Buy a lot of small moving boxes
Sports cards are deceptively heavy. Individually, they don’t weigh much, but since you can pack a lot of them into a small space, they add up quickly. If possible, pack your cards into small moving boxes. Home improvement stores sell cardboard moving boxes in many different sizes, but sticking to small boxes will be easier to manage. If you like to store your cards into albums, your typical small moving box (12” x 12” x 16”) can hold seven or eight 2” albums or five 3” albums. Small moving boxes can hold numerous card storage boxes, up to six 800-count Boxes or up to three 1,600-card Shoe Storage Boxes.
Medium and large boxes are fine for bulkier items, say like a display case with a signed football helmet. Some stores sell boxes with handles cut into the sides, which will make moving much easier for you, the movers or your friends that you bribed with pizza.
Also, don’t be cheap – buy more boxes than you think you need, because your collection is bigger than you realize. This is true once you unearth cards from the back of your closet and round up any loose cards strewn about your desk. You can always return unused boxes; almost nothing is worse during a move than running out of boxes at the 11th hour.
3. Use lots of tape – seriously!
Something always gets broken, bent or banged-up in a move – so let that happen to the card supplies, and not the cards. After all, the supplies are made to protect your cards, so this is when they really prove their worth.
I store my loose cards in either BCW Shoe House – six Shoe Boxes in one storage shelf – or in 3,200-count Monster Boxes. I liberally wrapped blue painter’s tape around each shoe storage shelf, and then moved the entire shelf. It was a little heavy, but the shoe shelf added an extra layer of protection around my cards. For my monster boxes, I wrapped tape around them to keep the lid securely in place. Yes, the tape did tear the boxes and shelves when removed, but so what? I’d rather buy a few new boxes than play 3,200-card pickup if a box gets dropped. Besides, some of my card boxes were old enough to remember Michael Jordan when he played for the Bulls, so it was time to replace them anyway.
4. Avoid the moving truck
If you have the option to move some of your collectibles in a car, do so. Moving trucks are big and can hold a lot, but that means that your cards might get other, heaver items stacked on top of them. And if the truck makes too fast of a turn, some of those boxes that you neatly packed can get tossed around. When I moved, I put my most valuable cards in the back seat and trunk of the car. Unfortunately, that meant that I had to put my TV in the moving truck…and the TV did not make it. But my vintage Parkhurst hockey cards, which would cost more than a TV and would take longer to replace, made it to their new destination with only their original flaws.
If done properly, with a little time and care, your collection can be safely moved without any of your treasures getting damaged.