The sports card market isn’t just enjoying a boom period in North America.
The Sunday Age in Australia spoke with some hobby shop owners and others there about the hot market in basketball, football, baseball and Australian Rules Football.
The first Virtual Sport Card Expo is in the books. Promoter Steve Menzies put the two-day event together as an online experience after COVID-19 restrictions forced cancellation of the physical event in the Toronto area. It was held Friday and Saturday with over 50 exhibitors.
Dealers chatted and made deals with collectors while showing off their online stores and cards from their inventory.
Case breaks and other presentations were held including a Q&A with Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito. Reggie Jackson was slated to attend, but cancelled at the last minute.
eBay Canada sponsored the Expo (and if you’re in Canada, you can get a $5 discount on a $25 eBay purchase through Monday).
Expo organizers say over 6,500 registered to attend during the two days. It was free to join in.
Panini America is distributing more than 600 “Welcome Back to Business” social distancing kits to hobby stores in North America.
They include, among other things, floor decals and posters urging shop customers to keep a safe distance from each other as well as hand sanitizer and some bonus packs of cards for business owners to give away.
Hobby shops in some areas have been open on some level for several weeks, but others have only begun to welcome customers over the last ten days or so as restrictions ease in some states.
“We recognize the challenges that were created by the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected hobby shops across America,” said Courtney Heady, Panini America Direct Sales Account Executive. “We wanted to provide a ‘Welcome Back’ package for the hobby stores in efforts to assist them as they begin to re-open their shops.”
Panini America says it “will continue looking for ways to assist shop owners as the country continues to rebound.”
The pandemic has been rough on some hobby-related businesses who rely on walk-in traffic.
In South Bend, IN, Jim Augustine of Augie’s Locker Room has had a tough time moving current and vintage Irish memorabilia, telling the South Bend Tribune, “We still have not had enough sales to pay for the rent and utilities, because there’s no break from that,” I did put money away in September, October, November and we started pulling from it and now it’s just gone.”
With the uncertainty of whether any sizeable number of fans will be allowed to attend college football games this coming season, the future is a big question mark for any business that relies on walk-in traffic.