What is the most anticipated and most aggravating countdown? To many people, it’s these words: Only __ shopping days ’til Christmas.
Here in the DFW area where we still have not even come close to a freeze yet and have barely dipped into the high 40s, sometimes the holiday season seems miles away. Other times, such as when I’m doing my usual walk at a local mall and hear the music and see their “ice palace” set up, I’m reminded we’re only a couple of weeks away.
The next six weeks or so are going to be full of fun for many of us, especially those whose faces still light up when we’re opening packs or getting something hobby-related as a gift, maybe even that elusive white whale we’ve been looking for. What makes it great, though, is when we can both give and receive and be happy with both parts of the equation. For many, the ‘giving’ part isn’t exclusive to the holidays.
In the past week, Bobby Bradshaw, one of the vendors who sets up at my shows, had me drive down to his storage unit where he loaded us up with giveaways for our next Adat Chaverim fundraising show. There were boxes of 2002-03 Ultra Basketball, Donruss Class of 2001 bobble heads and several 1994-95 SP basketball sets. We opened up one of the bobbleheads and it was Mark McGwire. Imagine my surprise when the combo of doll and card had a $60 Beckett book value. In addition to that, my good friend Megan Galinski-Broggi sent me a Facebook message about sending me some autographed photos she had around the office. We appreciate both of these donations and are always looking for more to give away to customers who support this charitable venture.
I’d love to see local collectors donating boxes and sets of cards as gifts to Toys for Tots, Toy Town or a similar program. It’s not hard to find a donation box and what better way to help kids discover the hobby who might not otherwise have that opportunity?
If you are a good retailer or even a show dealer, the holidays are a great time to make a positive impression on your customers. I have mentioned before how much I learn every time I walk into Nick’s Sportscards here in the Dallas area. The reason for that is both he and Debbie are always thinking about how to improve the shop year-round and they’re already thinking ahead.
Their store is in a heavily Jewish neighborhood and they’ve created a Chanukah package of packs for customers to give to their kids each of the eight nights of the holiday. Even if you’re not Jewish, that’s a great idea this time of year. Could you imagine the fun you can have opening up packs with your kid or special someone for eight straight nights?
In fact, some people believe the packs should be better, or more expensive, each night during the holiday. It would be fun to build up to Topps Dynasty or Panini Flawless or Upper Deck The Cup or whatever expensive pack your heart desires. But the best part if you can also do this with cheaper packs or even vintage packs if you’re buying for an adult who loves older cards. The way you create the nightly packages is totally up to you and your budget. When Nick showed me the prototype, I thought it was a great idea and now he’s also promoting them in his weekly newsletter. That’s one way of creating holiday spirit.
Having a holiday party or a special private trade night or gift exchange for good customers is another promotional idea for shops. You could encourage sign-ups over the next few weeks, then schedule an evening where you provide food or have everyone bring in light snacks and have customers do their own trading and/or gift swap. Offer free prizes—maybe even to every guest– and special one night pricing on various products such as supplies or new hobby boxes. Those types of events are a win-win as good customers will likely spend while they’re enjoying the evening. Of course, there is also the tried and true measure of creating gift registries for collectors to give to relatives and friends who may be buying for them. If you can dress up your store for the holidays, that is a great touch as well.
I know one of my dealers has offered to host a local Secret Santa exchange this year. Collectors post a general idea of what they might like to receive, names are drawn, gifts are wrapped and then swapped. If you’re more apt to participate online, those exchanges should be popping up now. It’s a fun way to ensure you’ll have something hobby-related to open up and it’s even more fun to pick out a bunch of packs, singles or sets to send to someone else. I’ve participated in these for years.
Having a show to attend during the holidays is also great fun and while some are reluctant to schedule during this time, I’d argue that the day after Christmas is a great time to have one—especially this year with the 26th falling on a Saturday. Would you rather be following other family members around fighting the crowds and trying to chase down department store bargains or go to a card show? We’ll be holding our Southfork show (at a new location, the Comfort Inn and Suites in Plano) that day and offering free admission as a way to thank everyone who has attended our show in the past year and hopefully will continue to do so.
The next six weeks should be a lot of fun and making the hobby a part of your holidays is never a bad idea.