Mr. Abbondandolo, 38, is among a growing group of people who turned to live breaking to stay in the hobby. Unexpectedly, the technology led him to open a hobby shop. He closed his first card shop after less than a year and in 2018 began live breaking on Facebook from his home. Mr. Abbondandolo’s following steadily grew to about 3,000 collectors.
Business boomed in 2020 and 2021 when collectors were stuck at home, so he rented an office for his company, Filthbomb Breaks & Collectibles, in Glen Cove, N.Y. So many collectors started banging on his door asking to look at cards that Mr. Abbondandolo opened a showroom in front.
“So it actually turned into a store without wanting it to turn into a store,” he said.
These days, he and his staff of 25 do roughly 30 breaks a day, which add up to 18 hours of streaming. In July, Filthbomb was one of the first breakers to join Fanatics Live where, Mr. Abbondandolo said, customers spend more time and money because they feel more confident that they’ll receive their cards on time and in quality condition. (In his first live show, he made $70,000 in sales within five hours.)
He also buys regular shipments of cards directly from Fanatics, which is faster, less expensive and more reliable. It also allows him to more predictably plan his breaks. One of about 60 breakers on Fanatics Live, Mr. Abbondandolo expected to exceed $15 million in sales in 2023, up 25 percent from the previous year, with about 20 percent of that revenue coming from Fanatics Live.
“All of a sudden our brand equity went through the roof,” he said.
The view from the hobby shops