For many of us who live and breathe and all but bleed sports cards, our favorite week of the year can be the seven days leading up to the Super Bowl, The National, the beginning of the holiday sales season, Panini’s Black Friday or Father’s Day promotion or perhaps the release of Topps 1 MLB or even Upper Deck’s The Cup NHL.
In a few days, my favorite week in the hobby is will be starting; the Las Vegas Industry Summit will kick off this Sunday and continue until Wednesday. This is the fifth year folks who have a stake in the industry will meet in Sin City to help shape the next 12 months of the hobby.
While most if it involves getting a sneak peek at what will be up the pike for the next six or so months regarding products, there is also the opportunity for hobby shops, breakers, manufacturers, league representatives, dumpers, distributors and more to actually engage each other without the need of phone calls, emails, blogs or social media.
My first visit to this function dates back to 2001 when it was the Kit Young Conference and held in Hawaii. While The Orleans will not ever make us forget about the Ilikai, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, the Pacific Ocean, that aquarium where Adam Sandler worked in 50 First Dates or The Pink Hotel, it actually serves as the perfect meeting place.
My first Hawaii memory involves landing, catching a ride to the hotel and immediately verbally assaulting now sadly deceased, inspirational card shop owner Steve James with all the great ideas I had implemented after being spurred on by his articles in CardTrade. It also involved meeting (and being eventually insulted by) Bobby Knight and having a much better Q&A experience with Willie Mays.
Since then I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dr. J, Pete Rose, some lovely girls from Benchwarmers, Rocket Ismail, Scott Schwartz, Frank Thomas (twice), Don Mattingly, Carmen Electra (way too briefly) and yes, even The Soup Nazi.
More importantly, it has been meeting (in no particular order) David Reel, Chris Carlin, Tracy Hackler, Kevin Isaacson, Alan Narz, Dr. Brian Price, Michael Phillips, D J Kazmierczak, Dianne Hatley, Don Joss, Clay Luraschi, Janyce Mabra, Brian Gray, Scott Prusha and my secret favorite who is no longer in the hobby, Ann Powell (Ann if this finds you, please come on back, your sincerity and warmth would be immediately welcomed back in the hobby) that has made these all too brief escapes from my store so worth it.
Back in the day, I had the delusions of grandeur that I could actually change the hobby and set it right as I had envisioned it. I have come to grips and now begrudgingly understand that while I can’t un*uck this hobby I love, perhaps I can make it reek a little less.
Yes, there will be incredible promos like the now world famous Panini Black Box, the Upper Deck Black Box, other tasty trinkets and baubles that I choose to share with the collectors at my store, along with athlete appearances, some inevitable wagering and even beer pong from what I understand. I am one again hosting the annual Fruitman dinner for 40 or so this Monday night at Buddy V’s at the Venetian should you be in town and looking for a fun way to enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day at an Italian restaurant of all places.
Looking ahead, it is my most sincere hope that the manufacturers will better tailor their hour long meetings so that they are not 55 minutes of “here’s what we have planned for you” with five minutes of obligatory “are there any questions”. While getting a little advance knowledge of whom you signed to an exclusive or what slight modifications you have made to your existing product lines, I hope the manufacturers appreciate the lengths we have gone to be there with you. Between the costs of either shutting our doors for a few days or entrusting our stores to our staff, our questions should be worth more than the amount of time it takes for a NFL timeout.
I will be sharing what tasty tidbits of hobby information that is disseminated on my Twitter feed (assuming the WiFi is better than is has been in the past) at @mikesstadiumsc, so please feel free to start following the ramblings of Colorado’s best used card salesman, even if only for a week or so. I will do my best to avoid the temptations of Jager and late night blackjack to relay lucid cardboard thoughts while I enjoy the company of my hobby brothers (and sisters).
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo. You can read his column here every week (or close to it), focusing on what products are selling best in hobby shops. See his eBay listings here. 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]