When I first opened in December 1992, I was not around long enough to fully enjoy my first holiday season in retail. Heck, I was happy to stay open each day and run to the bank each morning with whatever I had sold the day before.
Over the next few decades I came to look forward to the holiday season since it’s a chance to have the inside track on what each of my collectors is getting under their trees before they even know. While holiday sales are nice, it quickly became apparent that many of my collectors spend their card monies each December in a terrible way; on their wives and kids.
Sure there would be the occasional visit for whatever was new, but usually those visits were watered down until 12/26. Since my shop was born on 12/11 I learned it would be cool to offer up presents to inspire visits since waiting around isn’t my style.
Fast forward a few decades to when Panini started off their Black Friday promotion and I went crazy deep with it and actually opened up at 10PM on Thanksgiving to the shock and dismay of my wife. Well, I topped off the two-card promos from Panini with some special sales on supplies and other products and when I shut the door at 1 AM, I had cleared $11,000 in sales. Yup, it worked like a charm and each year it was a matter of avoiding enough turkey so I didn’t end up in a daze from all the L-Tryptophan.
Fast forward a few more years to 2017 and there are more promos than ever. I literally feel like I’m an airport controller. Let’s take a look at why you should visit your local card shop.
2017 Topps Holiday Packs
Sure, I’m a wee bit late on the first one, but starting on Friday, December 17 you can visit your LCS and get a free Topps MLB Holiday pack with any $10+ Topps MLB purchase. With all the killer releases from this year, your biggest decision should be not if, but which product you snag. Topps has wisely chosen to go with the Bowman design with their 2 card bonus packs and set collectors might want to be careful since there are 100 cards in the base set.
Looking at the checklist linked in the paragraph above, there’s plenty of guys who I do not know, meaning that there are loads of prospects. There are also oodles of rookies that I HAVE heard of to go with some veterans we have come to know over the past few years.
Looking at the autograph checklist,at the autograph checklist, it is highlighted by signatures of prospects like Gleyber Torres, Ronald Acuna, Rafael Devers and more of those guys many of us don’t know yet. Yet! Clearly Topps was thinking of me when they included autographs from three Rockies players – Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Raimel Tapia. There are also autos from Anthony Rizzo, Manny Machado, Ian Happ and few others that should make dropping the price of two Starbucks drinks for your free pack. If you want to see some of the cards, you can see some that have been listed on eBay here.
Panini Black Friday
Panini Black Friday, the granddaddy of them all returns on well… Black Friday. This year Panini released images well before the last minute and I have had collectors requesting loads of cases in advance of this promotion. By now you all know how it works, your LCS loads up on participating products and is rewarded with so many packs per box. Hopefully your store shares them at the same ratio they received them. This year the product list includes 16/17 Grand Reserve NBA, 16/17 Noir NBA, 16/17 Preferred NBA, 2017 Prestige NFL, 2017 Unparalleled NFL, 17/18 Nobility Soccer, 2017 Select Racing and 2017 Absolute Racing. 16/17 releases have finally become palatable with collectors since Ben Simmons has come out of his injury cocoon and made us flack back to a certain magical player we saw enter the league close to 30 years ago.
I can’t blame Panini for not offering MLB products with this promotion since like Topps, their releases moved incredibly well throughout the season. I hope you NBA fans are ready to pony up for some pricey boxes and I chose to snag loads of cases of Grand Reserve since they come with 12 Black Friday packs per box. My other appealing choice was Unparalleled since it was the closest NFL release to factory cost and still had a decent following. Sadly my soccer and racing crowd is a shorter line and I expect to carry over some of my bonus packs I got for my Unparalleled cases over to some other releases so I have more than just 2 options.
Thus far, Panini has shared what they base and relic cards look like and over the next few days, we should get a better look at what the autograph sets look like. They have also topped us of that that there will be memorabilia cards of the top NBA rookies, NFL Salute To Service singles, Super Bowl memorabilia cards (I will admit I really like the pylon relics), 4 different levels of parallels including 1/1 variations and rookies numbered to 399 from the different sports.
Just like last year, look for NFL and non NFL packs in case you have a preference.
Upper Deck Small Business Saturday
Upper Deck is bringing back it’s Winter Promo Set for the second year and they perfectly timed it with Small Business Saturday at your LCS. These free packs last year were a welcome addition in 2016 to help move already popular UD NHL releases and Goodwin boxes. Collectors can snag a free pack with any $10+ purchase of UD packs or boxes and the small set delivers a powerful punch.
The 10 card set clearly relies on their NHL exclusive license, but also incorporates all their exclusive athletes as well. It offers singles of Michael Jordan (of course), Wayne Gretzky (don’t act too surprised), LeBron James (I know, you’re clutching the sides of your face like Kevin in Home Alone), Connor McDavid (more shock), Patrick Roy, Ben Simmons returns (only this year we’re excited to see his cards), Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Canucks rookie Brock Boesser and Patrick Laine.
On top of the base cards, collectors should be on the lookout for Frost Parallels limited to 25 copies and 18 of you get to go all Willy Wonka Golden Ticket on the UDA website with $250.00 to spend. Side bet that one of these sells for $224.00 on eBay. Anyone? Come on, someone has to take this bet.
National Hobby Shop Day
The promotion that I am most amped about is a new National Hobby Shop Day that GTS Distribution is offering hobby shops. For some time, they have had one of the coolest promotions in the hobby where shops received free autographed jerseys and other items for purchasing select products. In an effort to combat the second week of December blahs, I worked with GTS to hold this event Saturday, December 9 with a few incredible modifications on their part.
For purchasing the right amount of MLB releases, shops are able to get free Bowman jerseys and Frank Thomas signed bats. Are NBA cards more your style? How about Magic Johnson signed team USA jerseys, basketballs or 16×20 photos as well as some Tim Hardaway signed cards or mini basketballs? The right NFL purchases get you jerseys from Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, DeShawn Watson, Jerry Rice or Joe Montana. NHL fans have their choice of Auston Matthews signed 16×20 framed pieces or Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys. If you answered, none of the above, then perhaps getting a Manny Pacquiao signed boxing glove will interest you.
At my shop, each $25 you spend on participating products allows you to choose which price you want to win and I have 16 different prizes to choose from. I’m also giving entries for the purchase of any wax box so if you’re grabbing a box of Topps or Panini for the other promotions I’ll be sure to take extra care of you.
Going back to the beginning of this piece, my shop turns 25 years old on 12/11. Begging isn’t my business, but I reached out to the distributors I purchase from, manufacturers and leagues for whatever might be lying round their offices, taking up space. I have already received some cool schwag from Topps and I’ll have enough hats, mini bats and cards to take care of a small army. Magazine Exchange dropped enough t-shirts, Goodwin jerseys and more cards on me to clothe a couple of baseball teams. I’m looking forward to the UPS and Fed Ex Trucks the next few weeks to see what other goodies I can share with my collectors and I will be sharing whatever they send on my shop Facebook page as well as @mikesstadiumsc on Twitter.
Please take a second to check with your LCS to see which promotions they are offering and if they are not already taking advantage of the GTS one, perhaps letting them know you would drop some extra coin with them to win some of those signed pieces might be the motivation they need to step up.
Sure there are plenty of hot new products to talk about and I’ll be doing that very soon. Right now I’m kinda focused on moving the $40k or so that I dropped on restocks. Thank goodness my 2017 MLB sales allowed me to go a little silly on a few cases.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, CO. His column focuses on what products are selling best in hobby shops. He’s got thousands of cards for sale on COMC.com under the ID cardmn5150. Enjoy new arrivals and big hits from Mike’s on Twitter. Mike’s is always looking for more friends on Facebook and you can email him at [email protected].