Not everyone buys items for the same reason. Some people buy an item for the utility of the item, others buy an item as an investment. Today we are going to dig a little deeper in regards to buying an item that will hold value and not depreciate the minute you purchase it.
Many items that we buy in life, lose value the minute they are purchased. A new car, a diamond ring, 100 buffalo wings (value actually increases while eating, severely decreases later that day or the following day), these items have great value, but they literally drop by almost half immediately. Several items are similar to this in the sports memorabilia/collectibles arena, but to the contrary, we are going to discuss one item that does not depreciate, it appreciates, usually by at least 100% in the first year.
There are a few main things to look for if you want to buy a sports collectible that will hold or increase in value. The key is to look to items that are limited in supply that also have demand. There are opportunities for these types of items in a few categories within the sports collectibles umbrella. One of the items that satisfies both the ability to be decor and the ability to be an investment is the Riddell Alternative Helmets.
In the category regarding unsigned memorabilia & collectibles, there are a few items that come right to the top. One of those items are the specialty alternative helmets from Riddell. This is a fairly recently started line from the officially licensed producer of helmets for the NFL, Riddell. Every year Riddell releases 1 or 2 alternative helmets, these will not be worn on the field, but they are essentially a collectors edition helmet for autograph collectors, and football helmet collectors. What makes these valuable, and why do they hold value? The reason these are a good buy from a customer stand point is the limited nature of these helmets. Riddell only does one run of these helmets, and does not produce them again. A good example is the Blaze series, which was the second release on the alternative helmets from Riddell, a Miami Dolphins Blaze Alternative Mini Helmet. This mini helmet released in the range of $34.99-39.99. It's now selling on eBay for $400-500 dollars. Why? Because it's rare (limited supply), it looks good (spiking demand). If you bought this helmet back upon it's release, you would now be able to make 10-12 times your money back! In about a 4-5 year period, that's better than buying stocks!
Digging into the supply side a bit more, we don't know exactly how many alternative helmets Riddell produces, but we do know they don't continue to produce them. Due to cost, it's a fair assumption to say they make less full-size specialty helmets than minis. Meaning the supply of full-size helmets is even more limited that the alternative mini helmets. This would intuitively make you think that buying the full-size helmets would be the better purchase. In some ways yes, but possibly your return could be better on the minis and here why that's could be the case. Since this is a retail consumer product, there does become a level of price that the buyer will cap out at. It's difficult for a Full-Size replica helmet to appreciate at the rate a mini would because in our earlier example, a full-size replica helmet would have to sell for close to $2,000 for the same return to be achieved. Not saying this is not possible, but for that to be replicated enough to get your money out of the helmets, it's probably unlikely. So in summary, in raw dollars your return on full-size helmets would likely be better, but as a multiplier of money invested, the minis are likely to give you a better return, based on consumer spending cap, and replicating the sale of the item multiple times.
There is some risk to buying this type of item, Riddell could decide to re-release the helmet and that would plummet the value. They have not done this up to this point, but there is nothing stopping that from happening. Another issue is knock-off helmets. Many people have now started making "custom" aka knock-off unlicensed helmets to replicate these alternative helmets. It does not seem Riddell is policing this, but it is something they may do in the future. Although the quality of the unlicensed helmet may be good, this will cut into the licensed helmet value because for the consumer, it eventually becomes a cost-benefit analysis. Is the extra $300 for the licensed version worth it to me? Be sure to check out our collection of alternative helmets that are available for purchase.