You hear it all the time. Sports cards can’t compete for kids’ attention in a high tech world. Adult collectors don’t tackle them with the same enthusiasm they once did. True, maybe, but there is still an audience for our old friends.
Yet, there is still plenty of room for improvement to keep all levels of collectors interested in buying year-round and sticking with the hobby. Here are some ideas we think might help.
Remember when there were seven series of baseball cards? You don’t if you weren’t collecting in the early 1970s. It seemed like a new series was coming out every other week. It made it a little hard to keep up if your local grocery or drug store was a little slow to order, but it sure did keep your attention. This isn’t a call for them to return to those days, but there’s nothing wrong with four baseball series: Release them in Mid-March, mid-May, early July and late September. 200 cards per series. For football, basketball and hockey, try three series.
This year, everyone had their Topps baseball sets by June. If you’re not into the supplemental or high-end products that followed, you were pretty much done. Summer time should be when kids are most excited about baseball cards and putting out fresh series of the base product throughout the year, at a price they can afford, would help that.
We’ve advocated this before. They used to be called bubble gum cards. Maybe that’s not the attraction anymore, but when you open a pack, you need to have something to pop in your mouth. It can’t be that hard, can it?
Topps puts career stats on the back, but not everyone always has. That should be a requirement for any company that puts out a card product. In fact, we think it should be a federal law.
Each player’s full name should be on the back. If Nolan Ryan was playing today, how many kids would know his name was actually Lynn Nolan Ryan. If you grew up in the 1970s you did. It’s part of what makes cards fun.
Tell us something we didn’t know. The back should tell us what a player’s hobbies are, if he’s done anything exciting in his life and if he holds any crazy record that isn’t on the stat box. Bring back the cartoons that tell us.
And while you’re at it, if you want to keep cards hip, why not include a player’s Twitter and Facebook page on the back? Players would love it. Kids would connect with the players on some small level. Sure you can search online but there are a lot of ‘unofficial’ pages out there. This wold eliminate the mystery. Maybe include some social media bonus prize tied in with players’ Twitter and/or Facebook pages.
Right now they’re just trash. Hearken back to the old days when you could mail in a buck or two with some wrappers and get a premium of some sort.
If you’re going to do extreme short printing, at least let us know what the checklist looks like. Even if you have to put it in another series, let us know exactly what we’re chasing instead of making us guess or search all over the internet.
Lower Price Points
If producing more series means fewer cards per pack, so be it. By spreading out the investment of chasing complete sets over time, you might attract those who can invest $30 at a time rather than having to fork over $50 or $60 for a box. Baseball cards used to be an impulse buy for many. When even base brands cost nearly as much as a gallon of milk, I’m not sure they are anymore.
There’s no doubt that card companies spend money on research to monitor buying habits. Maybe some of these ideas have been discussed and rejected for practicality and cost. At least a few of them worked once, though, and sometimes there’s a reason for that.