Shops, Card Makers Look for Common Ground

Sports card shop owners are asking manufacturers to keep them better informed, slow down the flood of redemption cards and help them compete with major retailers like Target and Walmart who are selling cards too.

150 store owners are meeting at the Industry Summit in Las Vegas, developing a list of their most pressing concerns and objectives for the rest of 2011 and beyond.

Among the major concerns for shop owners are autograph redemption cards.  According to those in attendance, too many are being placed in products as manufacturers wait for the players to autograph and return them.  “You can’t sell what you don’t have” has been a rallying cry for many.

Shops  are also asking for the card makers to keep them better informed when product shipment dates change.  For many small businesses,  a delay can have a severe impact on financial planning as they ensure their customers will have a choice of as many new products as possible.

Shop owners also asked for more lower-end, entry level products to entice kids and families into their brick-and-mortar stores.  Much of the talk around hobby shops in recent years has been about adults becoming the primary focus of marketing and sales as the cost and popularity of higher end products continues to keep potential customers on the sidelines.

Many collectors often bypass their local shop when buying new products, choosing to purchase the popular $19.99 ‘blaster boxes’ , $4.99  rack packs or $9.99 sample boxes from giant retailers like KMart, Target and Walmart.  Hobby shops are asking card makers why they aren’t being allocated those type of products.

Shop owners are also asking the card companies to consider doing away with expiration dates for redemptions since many collectors like to put boxes away for a later date but find out they can no longer redeem any ‘winning tickets’ from older products once they’re opened.

On Monday, Panini announced plans for a new distribution and pricing policy for its hobby shops.

The company is implementing a seven-day window for hobby shops to sell new products before they’re made available to bulk online retailers, who are currently able to undercut them on prices because they have little overhead.

Mike Anderson, Vice President of Sales for Panini was quoted on the card company’s blog as saying manufacturers have been “hesitant to address internet issues” because of the revenue those online sellers generate but now admitted it was “critical to take a stand”, saying his company wants to “ensure there’s a place for everyone.”