Computers, a bar-code scanner and plenty of labels keep The Batters Box and its huge inventory accurate and ready for sale.
It’s not hard to find The Battersbox at any of the major card shows around the country. Just listen for the sound.
It’s not a cash register. It’s a 21st century piece of portable bar-code scanning equipment that elicits the familiar sound each time a card is ‘rung up’ by owners Paul Sjolin or Justin Morrill. The device is part of a computer-based system the company uses to maintain an inventory of hundreds of thousands of vintage sports cards.
Based in Houston, Texas, The Battersbox is one of the most active vintage card dealers in North America, buying and selling at shows and through a growing and successful mail order business. After years of physically writing down each sale, Sjolin, who had worked with cost accounting, logistics computer models and simulations during his years as a Coca-Cola executive, implemented a better mousetrap.
He began by purchasing a Microsoft Access database built specifically to handle a vintage sports card inventory. After new inventory is graded, the cards are sleeved and entered into the company’s office computer. Bar code labels are then printed and affixed to the back of each sleeved card and the cards then gointo the monster box inventory.
When a customer orders through the company’s catalog, cards are pulled, bar codes scanned and Sjolin is able to import the data to update his inventory when the next order comes in.
“It saves us a ton of time,” Sjolin told SportsCollectorsDaily at the recent Chicago Sun-Times show. “As soon as a card goes on order, it’s out of inventory.”
At shows, Sjolin brings the bar code scanner and a laptop. Again, each card sold is scanned just as it is at your local grocery store. At the end of the show, The Battersbox has a computer record of each card sold and its grade. Sjoliln then imports the new data into the system when he returns to the office.
“It used to take me almost three days to go through all of my paperwork and update our inventory,” Sjolin recalled. “Now in less than an hour, everything is updated and we’re ready to go.”
The ‘show file’ also provides the company Box with an immediate summary of how things went. “I can do summaries that tell me exactly what’s been sold and in what grades, how many Mickey Mantle cards we sold, and what grades people were buying.” Sjolin uses the data to determine what part of his inventory he might need to replenish for the next show or catalog sale.
At the company office, the monster boxes are set up just as you see at the show, each box numbered to correspond with the same number in the corner of the bar code label so an employee who stocks the inventory knows where to put any card.
The computerized records also allow rapid production of those vintage card catalogs that are sent out, free of charge, about every four to six weeks. A .pdf file is sent to a printing company along with the company’s catalog mailing list. The printer prints, collates and packages the catalog, then applies mailing labels and ships them to nearly 2000 customers.