By reading industry publications and talking to dealers you regularly hear a recurring complaint. Hobby storeowners whining and complaining that the “industry”, which typically means the manufactures, don’t do enough to help them promote the hobby. I always find it amazing then that when the manufactures do something to help promote the hobby that hobby storeowners routinely mess it up. Case in point with Topps Turn Back the Clock promotion. As a way of celebrating their 50th anniversary in the football card market, Topps produced a hobby store exclusive set and launched it this NFL opening weekend, where for a nickel, collectors could purchase the first 5 cards of a 22 card set with the purchase of any 2005 Topps football product. In the 17 subsequent weeks of the season, collectors can return to their participating hobby shop and with another purchase of Topps ’05 football products, would be given that weeks card. This is a tremendous opportunity to drive traffic to local hobby shops and get the start of the NFL season off to a success for storeowners.
Friday evening I stopped by 3 card shops to get there feedback about the upcoming weekend and if they were expecting big traffic. Would you believe that one owner told me he had been out of the special 5¢ packs for a week. A week! I asked him knowingly, “Oh, I thought the promo started tomorrow to coordinate with the opening NFL weekend?” Would you believe the guy looked at me like I was from Mars and asked, “Where did you hear that?” Gee, I don’t know -- every hobby publication, website and pack insert of ’05 Topps Football. It was another case of a clueless storeowner blowing an opportunity to market his store, celebrate the hobby and take advantage of a manufacturer promotion.
Next came stop number #2. The owner of this store was already selling the nickel packs because he said the season actually started Thursday with the Patriots vs. Raiders game. Ok, I can buy that but he wasn’t even requiring a purchase of a Topps football product. Not only that, if you bought the nickel pack he was giving you the next week’s card of Tom Brady. My jaw dropped, but I said nothing because… well what can you say? Hope you enjoy counting your nickels and expect a slow weekend next week. I left shaking my head.
Store number 3. This guy got it right. While not actively promoting the event or the 5¢ packs on Friday, if asked and with a purchase of any ’05 Topps football product he would sell you a nickel pack and was sure to mention to stop in next week for the Tom Brady card. Finally somebody got it right.
I guess the old saying is true, “you can lead a horse to water, but”, well you know the rest.
On a more positive note, I had a garage sale this weekend. I know, big deal right? Well let me tell you something, I pulled out a 5000-count box of star, and minor star baseball cards and a 3200 count box of multi-sport star cards in addition to 5 boxes of 1991 over produced baseball product thinking this would be a good way to get rid of some doubles. While I was hoping to sell the boxes in bulk, instead the day turned into romper room with all the kids in my neighborhood. One 36ct box was missing a few packs so I put 25¢ on them per pack and marked the unopened boxes at $7 but sold them for $4. The day was spent sharing the hobby with young kids, some for the first time. By the end of the day I had groups of 3 and 4 kids each with $1.00 going in together and buying a $4 box of cards most collectors would rather burn than have to lug back in the house. You know what? They loved it.
Most of mine and the neighbors driveway was filled with kids ripping open packs of pre autograph, memorabilia, parallel, foil, short print, serial numbered cards -- and they were beaming.
It reminded me of when I first started collecting when I was 9 or 10 and being so excited to pull a Cubs or a White Sox player. Back then it wasn’t about “a hit card” or “big pull” it was about fun. It was nice to see that things haven’t changed much when it comes to kids and new collectors. The box of star cards while well sorted and looked at with plenty of “ooh’s and ahh’s it was the 5 boxes of 1991 wax that disappeared first because the kids loved opening the packs to see who was inside. So if the opportunity presents itself have a small garage sale and pull out those dust covered boxes of cards you just don’t know what to do with and watch the faces of the neighborhood kids light up like it was Christmas. You will be amazed at how you feel and the memories that the experience will conjure up.