For several months Upper Deck has been on a quest to find two of the best Canadian sports card shops for hockey cards.
The company worked with its two Canadian wholesale distributors – Grosnor and Universal – to create a campaign encouraging hobby shops in Canada to host more events, create programs for kids, run effective promotions and merchandise Upper Deck products. Two top shops would be named Upper Deck’s “Hockey Card Heaven” winners and receive NHL player appearances in their store.
Comic Connection in Hamilton, Ontario and Wayne's Sports Cards in Edmonton, Alberta were the winning shops.
Comic Connection won points for its organization, aiding collectors with the search for cards. They also ran different specials every day during the length of the promotion (Nov. 15 through Feb. 28) to thank customers for their support. To engage kids, they designated every Saturday as “Kids Day” and offered a variety of specials to make the shop more family friendly. They created a front window display using Upper Deck's inaugural 1990-91 hockey cards and also tied in some of their larger promotions to charities such as the Canadian National Autism Foundation.
"We're extremely excited,” said Ted Krieg, owner of Comic Connection. “We’re big hockey fans and it's fantastic to have something like this happen for us. We thought it was a great promotion and all of our staff just jumped at the opportunity. We worked really hard for this, but it’s also been a lot of fun, especially for our customers."
Wayne’s Sports Cards held coloring contests for kids, while grown ups were invited to show off their collections during “Open House” events. One of the bigger promotions they ran was called “Score with Upper Deck” where customers purchased a box of product, in exchange for an opportunity to shoot on the owner (slap-shot style), who was decked out in Edmonton Oilers gear. If the collector scored, he won a prize. Some additional promotions were built around Upper Deck releases like SPx and Black Diamond brands.
“Programs like ‘Hockey Card Heaven’ really help a retailer get motivated to come up with new and exciting ways to engage our customers,” said Wayne Wagner, owner of Wayne’s Sports Cards. “Anytime you can bring in a professional athlete to the store, it creates a buzz. Getting to meet a player face to face is such a great experience for fans and I know our customers are going to love it.”
Both of these shops will be receiving an athlete appearance from a well known NHL player. More details will be announced in the coming weeks. Among the runners-up were 401 Games, Toys and Sports Cards in Toronto, West Sports Cards in Edmonton, Untouchables in Mississauga, Ontario, Ultimate Sports Cards in North Bay, Ontario, Overtime Sports in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Superstars in Winnipeg.