The new owner of Topps trading cards is promising that it has no plans to cut hobby shops out of the distribution chain. Fanatics Collectibles, which purchased Topps as part of a long term and long reaching plan to take over the modern card market, said Monday that shops were an integral part of that plan.
Josh Luber, hired by Fanatics Chairman Michael Rubin to run the company’s card business, told attendees at the Topps Industry Conference in Chandler, AZ Monday that brick-and-mortar outlets were “the lifeblood of the industry” and they’d like to see “as many new hobby shops as the market can support.” A screen above the presentation stated that stores would continue to be “a strong consumer gateway.”
Topps, under the new direction of Fanatics, plans to launch an “enhanced hobby store program” sometime in the next 30-90 days, according to Luber. He didn’t elaborate on what that entails.
While you can expect Fanatics Collectibles to make changes in how cards are bought and sold, Luber indicated much of how the hobby’s modern card segment runs today would remain the same.
“I would guarantee that every segment of the industry that exists today will continue.” – Josh Luber, on trading card-to-consumer channels & the phrase “cutting out the middleman”
— Go GTS Live (@GoGTSLive) February 28, 2022
Luber and Topps President David Leiner, who shared the stage in the morning session, said analyzing both financial and customer data is a priority for Fanatics. Luber indicated the company plans to increase the size of Topps’ financial team as it analyzes the company’s customer base.
Leiner spoke on the company’s desire to bring new customers into the hobby to help Fanatics’ vision of a larger pool of collectors but admitted that “doing that today at some of the price points is hard.”
Luber indicated that avoiding overproduction of products in light of the explosive growth the market has experienced in recent years has “been in every conversation we’ve had” since the company moved to enter the trading card category. The company is looking to find ways to make some products available on a wider basis while taking steps to ensure that there are plenty of other products where the supply will be limited in order to maintain a sense of value.
You can look for Fanatics to market trading cards in some sort of real-time fashion as games play out in live fashion, citing player performances that generate viral moments on social media and mainstream interest. The company has millions of sports fans in its customer base and plans to use that connection to market cards.
Luber also indicated Topps could opt to make more products that are regional in nature, allocating them to dealers in specific areas where they might prove popular.