Friday, January 1, 2010

Hobby Wish For 2010

Panini, UD, and Topps to come up with creative ways to buy/sell/trade their products. 

I am not the average collector. The only time I am going to rip into a box of cards is with the intention of giving the cards away. While that puts me in the minority in terms of collecting, it doesn't mean I wouldn't spend some money to build my own personal collection. I've bought hundreds of single Michael Olowokandi cards on ebay so I am not shy, nor do I care, about throwing my money down the drain.

Over the years I've enjoyed buying and selling on websites like The Pit and Etopps. While The Pit is a small community of collectors, the premise behind the website is pure gold. Topps used to own The Pit. They overpaid when they bought the site and lost millions of dollars when they sold it to Naxcom. Which will more then likely prevent them from doing something like it again.

I go and look over at Sports Card Forum, and the trade sections on the site are home to the most popular threads. Sellers like it or not, Ebay is now the place to be for buying/selling Sports Cards. Period. Card Stores and Shows are drying up faster then Tiger's endorsement deals. Walmart and Target only cater to the low end market. Ebay is where it's at if you want to buy and sell. Card stores used to have weekly 'trade nights'- now upstart forums are the place to go to trade. If I were the owner of UD, Topps, or Panini a light bulb would be hovering over my head. I'd want to get a piece of the action. With ebay being the king of buying/selling, I would have no control over the secondary market place where my product was being bought and sold the most. At any moment, Ebay could shut out the low end sports card market by raising fees. Some would argue Ebay already has. Even selling boxes and cases proves to be difficult because most products have a razor thin profit margin. Any hike to ebay seller fees makes that margin even tighter. Just like the hobby stores across America have dried up, so could the sellers on ebay.  If I owned Topps, UD or Panini I would want to have a piece of that secondary market.

It could be done a number of different ways. The easiest would be to try and team up with the people who are already doing it the best. Find creative partnerships with the forums, and blogs from around the web. It also wouldn't hurt to knock on ebay's door every once in a while to see if you can get a slice of their pie- like Topps did with Etopps. There was/is a site on the web where you could buy and sell 'shares' of expensive cards just like shares of stocks on a stock exchange. Meaning I could own a piece of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle without having to buy the entire card. I would create a website where the shareholders could vote to cash out and sell the card (perhaps on ebay), so that shareholders could take swift advantage if they wanted to scoop a profit.

Most of the card companies are now saying they are going to go after children to try and revitalize the hobby. That could prove to be very difficult. Check out this Voice of the Collector blog to see why. Kids are a difficult market to reach. If it were me, I would focus on the collecting base that is already there. I would try and find ways to make the collecting experience more dynamic (stock exchange), and also more interactive (by connecting with collectors on the web). If I were working for Topps, UD, or Panini I would be on the popular forums and blogs everyday trying to get a feel for what collectors wanted to see. Maybe they do participate in that manner, but I haven't seen it.

Be sure to visit our website Sports Card Radio.

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