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Upper Deck changed the company’s direct sales program in March of 2011 in an effort to clean up distribution and offer more support to brick and mortar retailers with the Certified Diamond Dealer program. Certified Diamond Dealers have expressed an appreciation for how Upper Deck is supporting them by having an enforcement aspect to the program where the company can trace product back to its origin and eliminate retailers not honoring the agreement. What the policy has led to is a healthier marketplace and an influx of sports fans looking to get into the business of actually owning a trading card shop.
With the potential for growth there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to open a small business of their own. Over the next several weeks we will be sharing some tips from industry experts on what it takes to open a hobby shop and why it is a viable business. If owning a trading card store has always been a dream of yours, make sure to check out these posts as you will get some great tips.
First up, let’s hear from Southern Hobby Supply, an Authorized Distributor for Upper Deck here in the United States. Chris Austin and Brad Wagoner take a little time to share their history in the business and why now is a good time to get in it.
Dustin Laugherty, Southern Hobby’s director of Sports Marketing, also helped us with some question we have received in:
Question: Once I’ve opened a shop, what are some tips to help grow my business?
Dustin at Southern Hobby: “Your biggest advantage as a card store owner is that fact you get the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with almost all of your customers. You can share stories, compare box openings, trade and enjoy a fellowship unlike any online store. By building a sense of community inside your store you are inviting your customers to invite their friends and family. Have case parties, trade nights or other events that prompt your customers to talk about their hobby with each other. The more excited your customers are about their hobby, the more they will want to share with other people. The most powerful form of advertising is word-of-mouth and that’s what you will want to focus on by providing a great in-store experience.”
Question: Where and how should I advertise my business?
Dustin at Southern Hobby: “Several stores I work with have reported great success using cable to advertise. Cable television offers surprisingly affordable rates, and you can easily tailor your spots to hit a particular demographic. You also need to embrace social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and blogs are amazing tools to help grow your brand and your business. There is a misconception that they are free. It is true they are free to use, but stores that really have success spend to do some targeted advertising on Facebook in particular. They can realize a great return on their investment by finding collectors in their town and engaging them. By using social media you are easily able to keep your store top of mind with collectors.”
Recently Upper Deck ran a promotion called National Hockey Card Day where collectors could visit participating Certified Diamond Dealers and get a free pack of Upper Deck NHL cards. Unfortunately not every collector had a shop in their area to visit to score this great giveaway. What does that mean? It means there are opportunities all over the United States and Canada to open a hobby shop and there are fans who would love to see that. Just listen to some of the comments from real collectors received on Upper Deck’s Facebook page for National Hockey Card Day:
“I live in Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada. I wish there was a card store nearby because I know quite a few people who have asked where they can buy hockey cards.” Jeremy O.
“It would be nice to have a Certified Diamond Dealer in my town so that I could enjoy the drop in ability that I used to have. I miss the chance to go to the hobby shop, buy a box, and open it amongst other collectors. [And I miss] vicariously enjoying the box breaks of fellow collectors and exchanging hobby stories.” Rick G.
“We need a CDD in Orlando Florida. We have NHL hockey in Tampa Bay and Miami so the interest would be high. Also the Orlando area is full of transplants from the Northeast so I feel business would be good if promoted properly. A preseason NHL Tampa Bay game played in Orlando drew a big crowd and was a success. I’m originally from Philadelphia so Flyers hockey is in my blood and I continue to follow the NHL even in sunny Orlando. There are not enough card dealers in Orlando.” Karen P.
“With the return of the Jets, hockey and hockey cards have become HUGE in the province of Manitoba. The population of Certified Diamond Dealers in Winnipeg is fine, but outside of the city where I live, we are lacking hobby shops. I am hoping that as time goes on, and the Jets reach the playoffs, that a CDD will pop up in rural Manitoba to serve NHL hockey card to fans outside of Winnipeg!” Shane K.
“I live in Granite City, IL and I wish we had a Certified Diamond Dealer here that carried lots and lots of hockey cards especially for the St. Louis Blues. We are 15 minutes from St. Louis which is the best hockey town. We love Upper Deck and we need a store that carries Upper Deck gear and packs please!” Don L.
Look for more tips on how to open a trading card store right here on the Upper Deck Blog soon! And if you want to check out examples of trading card shops we work with, click here.
The information provided in this story is for assistance only and is not intended to be and must not be taken alone as the basis for an investment decision. Opening a trading card store, like any other business, presents certain risks for the business owner. Each reader of this information should make such investigations as it deems necessary to arrive at an independent evaluation of an investment.