Pullwax founder Michael Vinokur
Pullwax founder Michael Vinokur
TRADING CARDS & COLLECTIBLES

At Trading Card Marketplace Pullwax, the Hobby Turns Pro

The Pullwax team is serious about the collectibles business, but they’re definitely here to have some fun along the way.

A quick glance at their Instagram or YouTube pages will make it instantly apparent that Pullwax is not your grandpa’s trading card shop.

Whether they’re meeting up with a competing shop that challenged them to a game of basketball or creating a hilarious parody video mocking “those” types of breakers everybody sees online, there’s more to the Pullwax gang than just breaks and unboxings on IG Live.

But that youthful exuberance and the freshness to their approach does not mean Pullwax isn’t serious business. Founded by Michael Vinokur out of an obsession with sports and a hobby spurred by his parents, Miami-based Pullwax is looking to expand by not only building its own business, but by reinventing what a trading card shop can be.

“We’re really doing this shit,” said Vinokur. “We pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the hobby.”

Vinokur’s entrepreneurial spirit first manifested itself with a sneaker boutique, though he vows he’s retired from the sneaker game (“I hung my jersey in the rafters, he says). But even in “retirement,” he realizes lessons learned in that hobby have informed him in this one.

“It’s the same exact game,” Vinokur says of the buy low, sell high flip culture of sneakers and trading cards. “You have to know what you’re doing. You have to know what products do well. You have to know how much to pay for them. You have to know the market. You need to know where to sell it. You really need to know your shit. You need to have a brand and you need to know how to do business.”

Vinokur’s approach to Pullwax’s growth is decidedly modern. Rather than settling into one niche, the founder envisions a company that covers a ton of bases. Refusing to limit Pullwax to just trading cards, he sees it as a brand that can branch off into clothing, content, and merchandise. A true marketplace for hobbyists.

In the back room at trading card marketplace Pullwax
Behind the scenes at Pullwax

The modern athlete is marketed as more than simply what they do on the court or the field. Their brands touch a whole lot more than just the ball, and Pullwax is taking a similar approach. On social media, they’re building up not just personalities, but a lifestyle: Young, savvy collectors who live to profit but also help others do the same. “I’m in it for all the right reasons,” Vinokur said. “I love this shit. I’m a true hobbyist. I love sports.”

While Pullwax is benefiting from the current industry boom, they’re also looking forward to ways they can grow, including an expansion out west to Los Angeles and through original content creation, which Vinokur hopes will make them “The Breakfast Club of sports cards.”

Vinokur aims to call upon the connections he’s built up over the years to get access to the same athletes whose likenesses graces these coveted trading cards, posting interviews with Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller and Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins, among others.

“You’re not going to get your bullshit-ass, white collar, ‘oh, what happened in the last three minutes of the game’ [conversations],” he says of his forays into original content. “I’m going to talk to them [about] what you want to hear… People want to get to see the athlete, and how they feel, and how they are. And I can bring that out.”

Pullwax’s video interview with Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller

As the brand continues to grow, Pullwax has run into some brushback from industry mainstays, though Vinokur says that hasn’t impeded their progress.

“We’re really trying to break this divide,” he said. “The fact that I already went through these struggles, and have such a good team and they all believe in me?”

“These people don’t understand they add fuel to our fire.”

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