Yesterday I picked up a copy of the book “The Card” and read a few chapters relating to the memorabilia side of the industry. From what I can tell this book is definitely worth reading. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet I strongly recommend doing so. After reading the book, in addition to a number of threads on this forum asking what changes could be done to help the hobby, I thought it was time to make this post.

Regarding the sale of sports memorabilia, I came to the conclusion a few years ago that the current industry systems for transacting items are inherently deficient because they rely on too few people to validate everything. As an industry and as a collecting community, we have previously been at fault in assuming a couple of people can know everything about every item. And the fact that we, as collectors, blindly followed the market didn't help in coming up with a better solution. In fact, the need to improve the system was the impetus behind the creation of Game Used Universe.

For two years now GUU has been instrumental in providing content and social networking to collectors so they can make highly informed decisions about the items they purchase. Among many examples that will illustrate this point, we were instrumental in helping Vince Malta finish his book (you can read his acknowledgement section) and are working to distribute the book to all collectors. Our bat experts, Jim Caravello and Mike Specht, have provided detailed information to the general collecting community for the past two years to a degree that was previously unmatched. Many GUU members, experts in their own fields, have utilized this forum since its inception to distribute their vast knowledge to anyone who asks. Now, for the first time, the average collector has information that previously only resided in the hands of a few. That is exactly how we think things should work. Collectors should have all the information they need so they don’t have to rely exclusively on a select few individuals to tell them if something is legitimate. As long as the collecting community continues to rely exclusively on the opinions of a select few, the system will continue to be flawed.

That is why we are now launching Game Used Universe Auctions. We have termed it a ‘Next Generation’ auction because we believe it is where the hobby should and will go. We believe involving the collective community in a selling process run with integrity will protect buyers against the sale of fake and suspect merchandise in ways that have never been done before. Specifically, all items sold in our auction will first be evaluated by people like Rob Steinmetz, Mike Specht, Jim Caravello, Darrell O’Mary and other highly recognized industry experts who contribute to our site. Not only are these individuals extremely knowledgeable in their areas of expertise, they are, equally important, people who operate with the highest level of integrity. Anyone who knows these people can attest to what I am saying. In fact, I believe they have chosen to affiliate with GUU because they know what we stand for. We have encapsulated one of the primary tenets of Game Used Universe in the following three words, ‘Integrity before Profits’. While many people in the industry say they do this, I think people have empirical evidence that we do "walk the talk."

Our evaluators are among the industry's finest in terms or knowledge and integrity. Their input on GUU Auction items will provide collectors with assurances not found in many places in the industry. However, our model doesn’t stop there. We are developing our own custom software where each and every item in our auction will have a thread created for it that will allow questions to be asked and answered by anyone in our community. You see, we believe there are people out there with more knowledge in specific areas than anyone else. For example, who knows more about Broncos memorabilia than Patrick Scoggins? Who knows more about Cardinals bats than Jeff Scott? Who knows more about Phillies memorabilia than Howard Wolf? Who can photomatch jerseys better than Rudy? Basically, while GUU’s evaluators will provide extensive evaluations to protect collectors, we will also let collectors ask questions publicly and allow anyone in our community with useful information to provide answers. This system of fully disclosing all information for collectors to use in their purchasing decisions has never existed before.

In the end, there should never be a situation in our auctions where someone buys an item without fully being aware of what they are buying. We have created a system of accountability to make sure of it. If a collector is unsure of something, all they need to do is ask. And, if an item is illegitimate, questionable or misrepresented, there is little to no chance of making it through our system without being identified. As people who use this site already know, Game Used Universe has already been instrumental in helping protect collectors from many of the problems in the market. Our transaction model will only be taking things a step further in ways unprecedented.

I read Michael O’Keeffe’s comment that “I think there are a lot of problems in the hobby and I’m amazed at the amount of crap people are willing to put up with in order to spend thousands of dollars on a card or jersey.” In my opinion, many people have put up with these things because they don’t think they have an alternative.

Well, an alternative has arrived. With the launch of GUU Auctions, collectors will now be able to participate in a transaction system designed for their benefit. It is a system of accountability where the ultimate goal is to make sure items are accurately and fairly represented and buyers have all the tools they need to make informed decisions in the buying process. We look forward to helping bring the hobby into the next generation.

Chris Cavalier