What’s Hot in the Shop: Panini Black Friday…on Thanksgiving Night

by Mike Fruitman

According to Webopedia.com, the definition of Black Friday is: “In retail and online shopping the first day after Thanksgiving in the United States is referred to as Black Friday. Black Friday is generally perceived to be one of the largest major U.S. holiday shopping days for the retail industry, and is the day that most retailers become profitable for the year (i.e., go into the black). Black Friday is more associated with brick-and-mortar retail stores than online stores.”

According to hobby store owners and passionate card collectors, it is now known as the most exciting and successful promotional effort in the hobby today.

Dad and son card collectors

After the overwhelming success of last year’s rookie season and the subsequent interest in Panini’s Father’s Day effort, I spent considerable time putting together my game plan for Black Friday 2012.

When I first received the list of participating products about a month ago, I spent time breaking down each of the releases. I had to first see which of them I still had on my shelves. Next I had to see how deep I was into each of them. Let’s face it, there’s no sense bringing in more products you can’t easily sell just to increase the amount of those two card gems that shredders are dying to shred.

Next I checked with some of my bigger breakers to ensure that I brought in enough of the releases they wanted. One of the best parts of BF 2011 was the amount of new collectors that found my store. Panini did an incredible job promoting shops that were involved and that alone made things worth it.

The next step involved promoting it and fortunately between Facebook and emails we are able to stay in touch with 1,500 Colorado collectors. Once again Panini shared the list of stores and while we put together some doorbuster specials, it was clear that the promotion was going to be all about the BF packs (like the big retailers, we didn’t wait for Friday to open the doors).

Looking back, we brought in over $10,000 in Black Friday products in 2011 and it allowed my store to still have packs well after other shops in my area had exhausted their supply.

This year, thanks to numerous cases being pre ordered and stepping up to the next level, our total BF order exceeded $23,000 and allowed us to bring in over 2,300 bonus packs. While it was a bit of a gamble, I felt comfortable bumping up my BF order, and for the first time ever, I tried opening my doors on Thanksgiving night.

sports cards in display case

I could not tell you how surprised I was for there to be a line of people waiting for my 9:30PM opening. When the BF packs started getting ripped and this Cracked Ice Anthony Davis rookie year autographed card came out, my store resembled ocean waters during a shark attack.

Panini Cracked Ice Anthony Davis

By the time the dust settled at 1:00AM, we had given out over 1,000 BF packs. Our sales completely blew me away, topping $8,700.00 on a night where we would normally have been closed. I mean that would have been about the first 42 seconds of your local Best Buy being open at the stroke of midnight, but for a local card shop, that’s a loco start to the holiday season.

The next few days were filled with everyone who had not stopped in on Thanksgiving night coming in to devour whatever participating Panini releases we had left. Thanks to BF, we broke our four-day record and are continuing to see collectors who want to be part of the action.

One of the other cool parts of Black Friday is the opportunity to showcase products to collectors who would not have otherwise broken. Tonight, we had a box breaker stop in and while he had never opened up 11/12 Panini Gold Standard NBA before, he was jazzed to pull not only a Larry Bird autographed card from his box, but also the find a Barry Sanders 1989 Score reprint /5 and a DeMarco Murray relic card that even a Redskins collector would appreciate.

If I knew that this Blake Griffin card was in this other pack of Gold Standard, I know I would have broken it myself. Heck, I might have broken a whole 10 count case just to have snagged it.

Blake Griffin Panini autograph


Suffice to say when Panini Black Friday 2013 rolls along; I won’t be wondering if popping open for a few hours on Thanksgiving makes sense.

Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo.  You can read his column here every week, focusing on what products are selling best in hobby shops. Enjoy new arrivals and big hits from Mike’s on Twitter.  Mike’s is always looking for more friends on Facebook  and you can email him at  [email protected]

Those Panini Black Friday cards are doing well on eBay, too.  Click here to see what’s listed now.