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You’ve decided to open up a trading card shop which is exciting, but how do you establish yourself as an industry expert in your community and more importantly, with your customers. Most collectors who walk into a hobby shop are pretty savvy and do a lot with regard to checking out what is going on in the sports collectibles industry through a variety of sites and message boards. The days of them getting their news from the monthly Beckett magazine are really gone. And as the expert, it is your job to be able to speak to them with confidence about everything going on in the industry.
So how do you find out what is going on to become an industry expert?
You should likely set aside 30 minutes each day just to dedicate to going online and catching up with what’s happening. Many shop owners have shared with me they really enjoy using Twitter to stay up to date. They register for a corporate account for their store and then follow key industry insiders. From there they just monitor their feed from their phone during the day when things are slow. How do you find out who to follow? It’s not too hard, the best thing to do may be to find another card shop on Twitter and just see who they follow. You’ll definitely want to follow the manufacturers and distributors you are using. Give it a try and you’ll find it is a great way to quickly keep up to date on the happenings in the industry.
The other big resource to use is Facebook and you should likely set up a professional Facebook page for yourself as well to just monitor key industry experts and business pages. Much like Twitter, it is not too hard to figure out who to like if you just check out who some other collectors in the know like.
Another cool resource is Cardboard Connection Radio. Watch as Rob Bertrand and Doug Cataldo talk a little bit about the sports collectibles radio program
Your authorized distributors are going to be a great resource as well. They will likely send out emails about what is going on and what they have to offer. Make sure you are on those email lists.
Most manufacturers have a corporate blog where they pump out a variety of compelling content. There are also several great industry experts and organizations who have their own blogs as well. Make sure you subscribe to those to see all the latest stories as they break.
And then there are the online sports card communities you’ll definitely want to peruse when things are slow at the shop. Beckett, Cardboard Connection, Cloutsnchara, Freedom Cardboard, Sports Card Forum, The Want List, Hobby Insider, The Cardboard Village and Blowout are just a few of the communities out there. Explore online and bookmark your favorites!
The last thing you should do is to invest a bit in educating yourself by attending the Las Vegas Industry Summit. During this invaluable annual event you will learn anything and everything about how to run a successful shop and make valuable connections that you can use as a resource in the future. The show pays for itself with the valuable giveaways companies put together for attendees as you can see from these videos of what Upper Deck created as a gift for store owners at previous Industry Summit events.