by Mike Fruitman
In the past few years, Panini has shown the brilliance to go out and literally own two different days of the year, Father’s Day and Black Friday like nobody else in this hobby has ever done. If any other manufacturer ever wants to learn what it takes to get lines outside of stores, they simply need to follow exactly what Panini does for each of these days. Simply offer shops packs that are loaded with exclusive singles, low-numbered parallels, pylon and other relic cards that are off the charts and an autograph list that reads like a who’s who of heroes from all four sports and they will come.
It has been a blast the past few days hooking up collectors at my store with two card bonus packs that offer chances at signed cards from players like RGIII, Peyton Manning, Brooks Robinson, Geno Smith, Wade Boggs, Whitey Ford, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Carlton Fisk, Brett Favre, Mike Trout, Johnny Bench, Landry Jones, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Kane, Andre Dawson, Austin Rivers and enough other players to choke a herd of pack busters.
$399 for a Mike Trout autographed card? Last year possibly.
Someone pulled close to $500.00 for this Kyrie Irving rookie year autographed jersey relic.
I need to give Panini credit for using the way-back machine and introducing a whole new generation to some cool singles from the old Donruss and Pinnacle days. Many of us will remember the interesting color choice of 1991 Studio MLB and the overwhelming odds involved with pulling a Team Pinnacle insert card. While that 1991 set Is not exactly known for delivering value, seeing current players in that design looks pretty darn cool.
Last year collectors became familiar with the phrase “Cracked Ice” as a parallel and this year they were introduced to “Lava Flow” parallels. Looking ahead to Panini BlackFriday 2013, I can only hope that the folks in Texas at least consider “Pina Colada” parallels.
On a side note, while I do not have awards to give away (let’s face it, who would want to win a “Fruity”) I think that special recognition should go out to the individual or individuals who put this promotion together. I need to give them credit for more than doubling what I would typically do over a weekend, and allowing me to reward my customers with sweet individually numbered rookie year cards, autographed singles and some monster relic cards.
As important as the design and implementing of this program was, special props need to go out to the person who rolled out the specific involved products. I kid you not, there are no more eagerly anticipated emails that I receive each year than the ones that announce which products will be involved with Black Friday or Father’s Day as well as how many packs I will be able to share for each box purchase. I am literally like one of those moms in the Mervyn’s ”Open, Open, Open” commercial when it finally hits the top of my email box.
Don’t get me wrong, but I was a bit disappointed to read initially that the list was limited to 2012/13 Panini Marquee NBA, 12/13 Panini Base NBA, 12/13 Panini Elite NBA and 2012/13 Panini Limited NFL. I mean after the success of 2012 NFL products it was a bit disappointing to not see a single NFL offering, but I can understand where those might be in tight supply these days.
The day after email came out with the involved products, Panini shared that over 25,000 of the 50,000 packs were already gone (how’s that for a 24 hour sale?) and I chose to quickly step up and commit to some of the above mentioned cases before they were all spoken for. Later in the same week, Panini graciously announced that dealers were additionally able to purchase product directly from them. In addition to more products being offered (2013 Pinnacle MLB and 2012 Panini Prime Signatures NFL), if you now purchased directly, you would get even more packs for the same earlier announced releases. Even though Pinnacle MLB was not going to be in stores for a month, Panini allowed stores to involve a brand new release and more importantly, shops could now snag some 2012 NFL products for the many collectors who would surely be clamoring for it.
What did I do? I ordered two cases of Pinnacle MLB (let’s hope that Mr. Puig is still rocking strong at that point) and went all out with 4 cases of Panini Prime Signatures NFL. There was great merriment throughout the land when I shared the Prime Signatures news with my collectors and we even planned a case break event for that release. In case you were wondering, the best card we pulled from the break was a 1/1 Percy Harvin autograph.
Imagine my jubilation the next week when one distributor was able to offer both 2012 Panini Black NFL and 2012 Totally Certified NFL. Heck at that point, I felt better than Joe Flacco on Super Bowl Sunday. One call later, and a few more cases of NFL product were headed my way.
To their credit, whoever at Panini engineered this promotion helped me go from what would have been a few cases of less desirable product to well over $10,000.00 in releases just to stock my store. If I could only upsell my collectors in this same manner, I would be enjoying lobster weekly instead of only monthly.
At this point, if Panini wants to offer similar promotions for President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, April Fool’s Day and even Groundhog Day, and collectors in my store embrace it in the same fashion, I will be sure to once again push my credit card as far as it will stretch.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike's Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo. You can read his column here every week (or close to it), focusing on what products are selling best in hobby shops. See his eBay listings here. 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]