Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So What REALLY Transpired at the Industry Summit

Well most of us weren't there but the communication being disseminated via their newsletters has been rife with optimism. To add a bit of reality to the official communiques I wanted to take a minute and weigh in with my 2c in response to some of the recent comments made by attendees.

B2B trade shows like this are often filled with a lot of complaints from the "boots on the ground", in this case the card shop owners, and a lot of industry "Rah, Rah!!", from the manufacturers. Time will tell if this event sets the course for a new era in collecting or simply served as a way of placating dealers with a town hall forum.

A complete and unabridged list of the comments can be found

“At a time when it would be easy to be negative, card stores have stepped up with optimism and a willingness to share ideas that need to be listened to, but more importantly, need to be implemented. Now the ball is in our court."
- John Buscaglia, Topps VP/sales

It’s 2010, the retail/industry side of The Hobby has been in serious decline if not crisis for the last several years. The ball has been in the manufacturer’s for years. Are statements like this really just PR fluff or will Topps really do something to aid brick-and-mortar stores besides the tired old FREE card gimmicks they have made famous with things like “Turn Back the Clock”. Like buying back and documenting the destruction of unsold product to preserve secondary market values, or making changes to their distribution model so that true card shops are given priority over big box, and online retailers.

“These are things we’ve wanted to do for 10 years. We are no longer turning a blind eye to the problem that has been killing margins for hobby stores."
- Mike Anderson, Panini VP, announcing the company’s revamped distribution plans.

Really? So who or what stopped you? You are the ones calling the shots. In talking with several brick and mortar card dealers, this is something that has been discussed at every Hawaii Trade Conference (the precursor to The Summit) for years and something that manufacturers know dealers want to hear but never do anything about because they don’t dare upset their shelf space at big box stores.

“If we know with confidence that the industry would wait to pursue the Topps licensed rookie card, and not that from an unlicensed manufacturer, we’d go that way. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced the industry would wait for a licensed card. If you look at Jason Heyward’s most pursued card, it isn’t a Topps card right now. So right now, (waiting until a player makes the majors to approve a Rookie Card) is a risk that we are not ready to take."
- Evan Kaplan, MLBPA

Ok, this one totally threw me for a loop. Wasn’t this the whole point of creating the Rookie Card Logo? It seems to me that the MLBPA and MLBP aren’t on the same page in any way shape or form and an obvious problem that needs unity and resolve.

“We lost a lot when Dr. (James) Beckett sold the company – but we still have a lot of customers, and a lot of eyes visiting our site. Our new ownership is willing to invest in this business. I want you to know that we need to do better, and we will do better."
- Bill Sutherland of Beckett Media, responding to an assessment of as a “broken toy’’ during his “10 key questions’’ segment.

Don’t get me started. But I love the fact that someone publicly referred to them as "a broken toy" :)


James said...

Curious to know what things collectors can see in the next 90 days as a result of this conference. And what are they doing to measure the effectiveness of this conference. Are they doing a follow-up call, survey or something to the attendees to see if they see any results and if their time at the conference was worth it.

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