Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bad Wax Blog Posting - Card Store Closings

Bad Wax has a great article about hobby stores closing. Why are these stores closing? Are the flushing money down the drain?

Disclaimer: It's easy for a lot of us to sit here and type reasons why the stores are closing and not staying in business since most of don't own a hobby store (myself included).
I've never had a great connection with a hobby store. As kid, the stores seemed to be always run by grumpy old men who were bothered if you asked them any questions. I'm envious of the people who had and still have great relationships with hobby stores. Even today, I had an exchange with my local hobby store. After mentioning a fact I read on a card blog his reply was, "I don't read the blogs - they can't tell me anything." I know, hilarious isn't it.
Anyway, I commented on the Bad Wax blog on what I think hobby stores need to do stay in business. I think it's all about making connections with your client's passion and I think it can be done in these four ways:
  1. Host box break parties: Order pizza, sell the boxes at a discount, and get a group of people to sit around and open their boxes together. Make it a "community event." Then post the video online.
  2. Have a huge Internet presence. Have a blog, link to others, and participate in discussions. Don't have a blog to get sales, have a blog to get leads and bring people into the store.
  3. Have autograph sessions. Combine resources with local stores to host old and new school player signings. Get people in your store.
  4. Educate. Be an expert, keep learning, and teach others.
This is just my two cents. I know there's the whole business model review and people who run businesses probably have different ideas. But I'm a marketing person with card/memorabilia hobby... not a business owner. And if I were advising a store owner from a marketing point of view, that's where I'd start.
Check out the Bad Wax story.


Dave - Fielder's Choice said...

Great ideas, JRJ. I think the key is to build a web presence. By selling a high volume of boxes online, you can afford to charge competitive prices to customers who come in the store. Box breaks on YouTube, blogging, having a good store web site are all things that can be done to build a strong web presence. Having autograph signings is also a great idea - D&A Card World does that in the Buffalo area, and I imagine that it really helps business. There are really a lot of ways that hobby stores can be successful nowadays, but a lot of store owners simply don't understand or unwilling to run their business in a way that can be successful in today's collecting world.

zman40 said...

As for my local store, he has expanded greatly to meet demand. When I first started going there (about 15 years ago) he was mostly baseball and football. Nowadays, it seems like it's the Magic card stuff that drives his business. He has tables in the back for Magic players to get together and play. He now serves soda and pizza to serve those kind of collectors. And, within the last couple of years, he has been buying and re-selling DVDs, Blue Rays, and video games and systems. Basically, he does what he can.
Terrence Newman of the Cowboys is from my hometown, but he swears that it would cost too much for him to come in there for an autograph signing.
While I rarely go in there unless I need sheets or something, I think that he might be a book person. The only thing I am basing that on is that he charged me $0.50 for the '08 Topps Hereitage Mike Aviles (high numbered). I was expecting it for next to nothing and was a little shocked at the $.50 price tag. But, it was still cheaper than buying it off of ebay.

JRJ said...

zman40 - It is pricey to bring in current day stars to a card shop. A lot of stores combine their resources to get players. They put up the $$ and have the player appear a few times at each store throughout the year. It seems most smaller stores go for the player who just turned pro and for the old-timers in the area. It still drives traffic and creates some noise for the store.

Dave - Absolutely right... web presence is huge today. And it's more than it used to be. You can't just have a web site, it needs to be a store, interactive, and participating across the web.

Zman40 - The magic tables in the back is the concept I'm talking about. Right on - the store is making a connection with the buyer, not just selling a product.

JRJ said...

I'd also like to see a store do some midnight launches of products. Typically the stores can't sell a product until a certain date. Have a midnight event with pizza, games, and box breaks at midnight for a product rolling out. There's no reason why they can't work those in. The store Zman40 is talking about with video games is perfect. Have a midnight launch with Madden, give a discount on boxes, and do it all at a midnight event.

Again, I'm just a marketing guy - not a business owner. I'm sure there are other, more intelligent ideas on why the hobby stores are closing.

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