Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
What do you want to see changed or added to the 2010 National Sports Collectors Convention?
My list includes:
- 1/2 Price admission to sneak preview day.
- Later show start times and later closing times.
- CCTV of autograph pavilion and booths throughout the show the floor.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
In this card Keith (with the 'stache) swings and drives a ball into the Shea Stadium right field gap. I can totally see him cruising into 2nd base with a stand-up double and pumping his fists.
The other side is defense with the following autographs:
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
What happened to the 'stache? I have tons of Keith Hernandez cards and this is the only one that has Keith Hernandez without a mustache.
The card scanned here is a 1988 Fleer.
I added Roger Staubach's autograph to my Super Bowl VI themed helmet.
This is a picture of the RK style helmet Roger wore in Super Bowl VI game when he earned the game's MVP award.
Staubach signed this at the Mounted Memories show during Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, OH.
One side of the helmet is offense with the following autographs included:
- Roger Staubach
- Forrest Gregg
- Walt Garrison
- Rayfield Wright
The other side is defense with the following autographs:
- Bob Lilly
- Mel Renfro
- Chuck Howley
- George Andrie
- Jethro Pugh
- Herb Adderly
Here's a picture of Roger signing my Navy football helmet the same day.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
There are a few diamonds in the rough out there, but for the most part, card store owners haven't changed their path and plan to run their business.
In the past, the card shops could operate as the only place to get a new card, new pack, or talk shop with the person behind the counter.
Today, sources for buying cards/packs and finding information are everywhere on blogs, twitter, Facebook, and other sites.
Unfortunately, I've been watching too many card shops close doors and most collectors see them today as dinosaurs, slow to change and destine to be a story of the past. It doesn't have to be this way. Stores can stop themselves from becoming the hobby fossils.
I was in a store last month and asked the owner if he's online reading the blogs or on Facebook and twitter. He said, "no - I think that's all a fad and it won't last."
The staying power of those communities can be argued, but that's missing the point. The point is, your customers are there now. And you as a store owner, need to be marketing your product where your customers are today.
Card stores need to get social and create an environment where people want to meet. How do you do this?
- Get an online presence. This can be a blog or a Facebook fan page, but both is preferred.
- Be active in the online community. Read the card reviews, know what people have found, and be informed about the products you are selling.
- Host Group Box Breaks. Invite people to come in to your store for a group box break on a specific product. During the break, offer contests, like the lowest serial number gets a $10 coupon and get a card of a local hero in your box to win a free pack or card - you get the point though. Make it something where the prizes are incentives for people to participate in the group break at your store. The more involvement you have in the store, the more people will keep coming back.
- Record the box break and post on your blog, YouTube or your fan page on Facebook. Show others what people are doing IN YOUR STORE.
- Host some autograph sessions. It doesn't have to be the #1 football star in the country. You should be able to bring in some local players. Baseball players that come back to the areas after the season, or college players after they've been drafted make great guests.
- Open a twitter account for your store to announce when you've received the new product, when specials are happening, and send pictures of your group box breaks or when someone gets a great pull at your store.
- If you decided to start a blog (hopefully you did), then invite people in your store to write product reviews or get featured on the blog after their pulls.
This is just a start and seven quick steps to change the store from barely making rent to thriving in the community. The key is to be social and be different.
Book Soup is a store in Hollywood that competes with Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. They can't compete with discounts and a product library like the big boys do, but they compete by being social. They have book signers, guest readings, staff recommendations, and a diverse selection. I recently read about them in a publication. Check out what they are doing.
Other ideas? Other examples?
Monday, August 24, 2009
The good news: I have a Nolan Ryan autograph baseball.
The bad news: I wanted to get more autographs.
On Sunday, Aug. 23, I went to the MAB 1969 Mets reunion show on Long Island. I came in town the night before to see the Mets celebrate the 40-year anniversary of their amazing run.
The on-field celebration was awesome. They introduced all living members of the team and the family members of those who couldn't make it.
The MAB show was not as smooth. The hotel conference room was way too small. They packed dealer tables in everywhere leaving almost no room for two people to pass through the aisles.
The main attraction, the autograph session was a circus. In a 50'x 10' space they packed as many as 10 players and 15 or so people in line for each player. It was ridiculous and chaotic. Some show workers were doing their best to try and keep order while others were walking around complaining about the situation.
This just in: Blue painters tape should never be used as a divider. Show organizers used blue painters tape to separate the autograph area from the rest of the show. Painter's tape? I'm not asking for velvet rope, but tape?
The autograph area also didn't announce when players walked to the tables and arrived. Instead they just started announcing, "Tickets 1-5 for Nolan Ryan." Give the players a welcome and introduce like they deserve to be. I want to hear, "Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome one of baseballs all-time pitchers, a Hall-of-Famer, and holder of numerous baseball records... Nolan Ryan." This will allow people to cheer and make him feel welcome, instead of making it look like he's a commodity.
These were the problems inside the conference room - getting in was another issue. In a narrow hallway there were 3 lines, one for show admission ($5 was a good price), one line for call-ahead autograph tickets (like will-call) another line for same-day autograph ticket purchases and other items. I waited in line 15 minutes just to get my call-ahead autograph tickets (this was the short line). I can't imagine how long people waited in the same-day autograph ticket line.
To compound the issue were autograph times. The show opened at 9:00am and the first autograph guests began at 9:00am. Ed Kranepool (a pretty historic Mets player) was the first signer. They were announcing last ticket call for him while people were still in line to buy an autograph ticket for him.
I like MAB shows. They are fans of the players and the teams. They have a passion for what they do, but there needs to be improvement. I'm sure others like me wanted to get other player autographs and look at the tables, but felt the need to escape because of the environment. I would have paid to get Cleon Jones and Buddy Harrleson autographs but the thought of leaving the autograph area, standing in a long line to get another ticket and then trying to make my way to the area was more than I wanted to deal with.
As an owner, organizer, or marketer, you want to make it as easy as possible for someone to purchase your product, unfortunately, this time MAB fell short.
Here's what I'd change:
- Open the show before the first autograph guests is announced.
- Have a bigger show room or use multiple rooms.
- Introduce the players and allow collectors to cheer their arrival.
- Have a bigger area to accept 3 lines
Nolan didn't say much when I got his autograph. I said "thank you for doing this" and that I appreciated it. He just said, "sure" and signed the baseballs. I don't think I even got eye contact. To some players, autograph sessions are away to stay in touch with the fans, to others it's more of a business. Maybe it's all business for him? He wasn't rude or on the phone (Hello Tony Dorrset), so it wasn't a big deal.
I plan on attending the MAB catcher-themed show in November. Hopefully things will improve.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I'm heading Queens and Long Island this weekend to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of the Amazing Mets Championship.
On Saturday night, Citi Field (weather permitting) will honor the 1969 Mets in a pre-game celebration. I'll be at the event and the game that night.
On Sunday, MAB is partnering with JP's Sports to bring a card and '69 Mets autograph show.
I'm going for the Nolan Ryan autograph - this is a rare public event for Ryan (especially in NY). I may also go for Cleon Jones, but I haven't decided yet.
I'll send twitter updates from the show and some twitpics. To see the updates and pictures, follow me at twitter.com/jamesryanj
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I have been waiting for this autograph a long time!
Roger Staubach came back to the Mounted Memories Canton Hall of Fame show on August 15. I got the helmet pictured here, and two other helmets signed by Roger last Saturday.
The full-size helmet pictured here is from GridIron Memories. Navy wore this helmet during the 1963 Army/Navy game. Navy Coach Wayne Hardin put the "Beat Army" and the players' names on the back of the helmets for this game. Hardin also added "Drive for Five" on the back of the players' jerseys - winning the 1963 game would be the 5th win in a row for Navy.
Navy won their 5th Army/Navy game in-a-row and Staubach finished the '63 season with 1,474 yards passing, 418 yards rushing and 15 total touchdowns to win the Heisman Trophy.
At the autograph session, Roger added the '63 Heisman inscription and the "Drive for Five" inscription. He was really cool about it, talked about the game a bit, and seemed happy that someone knew about that particular Army/Navy game.
It makes all the difference when getting in-person autographs if you have some different knowledge about the player when you meet him/her. On Saturday, Roger was cool to share stories about a game that most autograph seekers don't ask about. Another example is when I met Joe Namath at an autograph session a few years ago and talked about Alabama football, instead of the normal Jets discussions that most autograph seekers do. He talked about the Alabama/Tennessee game for 10 minutes with me. It was an awesome experience.
I'll have pictures of Roger signing my other helmets in the next few days.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I've been having a good time working on a Topps 1962 Mets team set. If only I had $1k to spend, I could have cut out the fun, and bought the Topps Mets team sets from 1962 - 2008.
This eBay auction ends next Saturday and has an opening bid price of $999.00.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Rick Dempsey + Adam Sandler = Hilarity
Former Orioles catcher (and Len Dykstra punching bag) Rick Dempsey found a taker for his movie script. Columbia Pictures and Adam Sandler's Happy Madison company purchased the script.
The movie is based on Rick Dempsey's playing days and the story of his little league coach John Jennings. Jennings coached his little league team to the 1963 Little League World Championship while robbing area banks. Jennings was eventually caught and spent time in prison.
More from Variety.
I think anything Dempsey does is hilarious and remember him most for his rain-delay routines. Oh yeah, he was a World Series MVP!
Friday, August 14, 2009
I'm a big Art Donovan fan - to be honest, I first knew him as the hilarious guy on David Letterman's Late Night show.
Look at the smirk on Donovan - you can tell from this card he's a character!
I met Art Donovan at an autograph show two years ago in Canton. He had some great stories. I asked him about the '52 season while he was signing a '52 Dallas Texans helmet. The Texans' only win that season was against the Chicago Bears coached by George Halas.
The game was in the Akron Rubber Bowl. Donovan said no one knew who the Texans were and instead of doing team introductions, the team had to go in the stands to introduce themselves to the fans.
I have no idea if it's true or not, but it makes a great Art Donovan story.
Here's a link to the '52 Texans Helmet I have.
Those are all the '52 Texans cards I picked up at the National. I had to dig to find them, but most cost $5 or so a piece. The Donovan card was a little more.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Barney Poole (left) and Art Weiner (right)
There were two Art's on the '52 Dallas Texans?! Art Weiner (card #114) was an end for the Texans after missing the 1951 season to work on his Master's Degree.
Barney Poole (card #11) was also an end for the Texans and went by his middle name "Barney." His first name was George.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Brad "Whitie" Ecklund (left) and Dan Edwards (right)
Is hair color the best nickname the Texans could come up with. Brad Ecklund (card #35) was a center for the Dallas Texans. Ecklund looks more like Conan O'Brien than a big center.
Dan Edwards (card #77) was an end for the Texans. . . formerly the "Yanks."
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
John Wozniak (left) and Zollie Toth (right)
Here are some of my pick-ups from the National last weekend.
John Wozniak (card #97) was a guard for the Dallas Texans in college was a captain of the Alabama football team.
Zollie Toth (card #58) played fullback for the Dallas Texans. He was from LSU and was a rookie with the "New York Yanks." Grrr.... look at that mug!
Monday, August 10, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Please take a minute to answer four quick questions on this year's National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland.
It's part of the National facebook group. Click here to give your feedback.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The Stats on the Back blog delivered an awesome surprise last week. A HUGE box of Mets baseball cards.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Some crappy little blogs have been giving away cards here and there from the blogger's trip to the National Sports Collectors Convention. I'm not naming names, but I think it's pretty obvious who's giving out one card on Saturday, one card on Monday, etc. (hint, you don't have to look to far).
The VOTC (Voice of The Collector) blog has a ton of stuff to give-away today including a ball dome, T-206 poster, and promotional cards from this weekend's National.
Take a look at the VOTC blog to pick up some of the cool schwag.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Freedom CardBoard was handing out some awesome baseball cards during the 30th annual National Sports Collectors Convention.
These are FCB original cards done by their own photographers. They are Tim Beckham, David Cooper, Matt Wieters, Justin Smoak, and Brett Wallace. They look awesome.
FCB did a great job marketing themselves during the National with giveaways, raffles, scavenger hunts, and live chats from their booth.
Leave a comment if you'd like one or more of the FCB cards. I'll mail them to you.
Check out the Freedom CardBoard- great site and good people.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday's attendance seemed much smaller than Saturday's. Unlike Saturday, there wasn't a line to get into the parking lot, there wasn't a long line to get into the show, and there wasn't a line to buy the newest box. While this may be an issue for dealers and organizers to agonize about with pie charts and pivot tables, it wasn't a problem for collectors.
Those who attended Sunday were able to take advantage of the extra elbow room by finding more opportunities to get a Blake Griffin autograph ticket, enjoy the smaller crowds at the redemption areas, and have smaller lines at the Tristar booths.
The NFLPA had free autographs for kids (although plenty of big kids were in line too). The family area near the I-X Center Ferris Wheel had autograph sessions for Cleveland Browns Lee Suggs and Greg Pruitt.
The Ferris wheel has taken its last spin for the 30th Annual National. Next year's National Sports Collectors Convention will take its turn on the east coast in Baltimore, Maryland.
Special Thanks to The Cardboard Connection for inviting me to work with them.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I attended most of this year's National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland. I was there Wednesday night, Saturday and Sunday. I have a recap of each day listed on the Cardboard Connection. Here are my impressions overall with the show.
The bar has certainly been lowered for the 31st Annual Sports Collectors Convention next year in Baltimore, MD. I don't have the official attendance numbers to back this up, but my impression is attendance was way down compared to the last time the National was in Cleveland.
I walked around Wednesday night amazed that more people weren't there. It seemed more like an after-prom party than it did a national trade show. I met the great people at the Freedom Card Board who were doing streaming live audio and video direct from their booth. They did a great job marketing their booth with the webcast, an autograph session, and a scavenger hunt for great prize raffles.
On Wednesday I also talked to the Sports Card Forum booth. They were also raffling great prizes throughout the weekend and did a nice job marketing their booth through the Facebook group and using the twitter #NSCCShow hashtag.
Most of my time the first day was spent meeting people from the internet, the The National Facebook Group, and twitter. Fortunately for me, the small crowd made it easy to find people.
As expected, Saturday was the busiest day of the show. I was able to really hit more of the tables, picked up the free Tyler Hansbrough autograph for the giveaway, and meet more people. Rob from VOTC did a great job sending twitter updates. It was great meeting him at the show. I also met the Card Informant crew. I also met Rich from Sports Collectors Daily. They were both sending twitter updates all weekend.
This had the most pathetic attendance of any day at the National. I swear I heard crickets at one point! I was really surprised it was that bad. There were several dealer tables who had already closed up shop and headed home. I asked around about why people left so early Sunday morning and was informed they didn't leave Sunday . . . they left Saturday!
I always have a good time at the National. It's a shame that Topps and Steiner weren't in attendance for the biggest show of the hobby, but in retrospect, maybe they knew something the other corporations didn't? I picked up some cool cards and great pieces to give-away like redemption cards and an awesome T206 poster from PSA.
Q: How to Fix the National? A: Marketing
OK, truthfully, I work in marketing, so I always think it's the answer. :) However, I think the marketing for the National needs updating.
1. Why was Wednesday a full price day if it was a 4 hour sneak peak? Cut the cost in half and bring in more people. Treat it as a "soft opening" with special raffle prices, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and a local athlete to usher us in. In Cleveland, bring a member of the Cavs or at least the Cavs cheerleaders.
2. Change the hours. Why is the National closing at 6:00pm on Thursday and Friday? You are really limiting your audience. Open it two hours later and keep it open 2 hours longer. How many more families will attend if they can pick up the kids on their way home from work and head to the show for a few hours?
3. Facebook. I talked to John Broggi on Saturday about Facebook. Right now, he views facebook as a way to release information instead of a way to connect with fans. Give facebook fans a coupon or free parking pass. Poll them on their experiences. Think of the interaction he could get. Bring in some You-tube elements to the facebook page. Show me some behind the scenes footage of dealers and signers showing up. Argh!
4. Twitter! I think the twitter feed for the National was the best part. I really think this has momentum and should continue with other shows. I really enjoyed getting the updates from VOTC, SportsCardsDaily, and others and plenty of people sent me DMs to share the same opinion. Mario at WaxHeaven and Gellman from SCU were also sending reply tweets. They were asking questions, getting involved, and hopefully we did a good job of bringing the National to them! Anyone using the #NSCCShow hashtag could follow the conversation and see the twitpics.
That's just my opinion though. Check out the VOTC's take, Sports Card Info and Sports Collectors Daily.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
During day 2 of the National I got an in-person autograph from former UNC basketball star and current Indiana Pacer, Tyler Hansbrough.
He signed Panini promotion cards at the National Sports Collectors Convention. To win the autograph (and opportunity to stand in line for 45 minutes) I had to spin the giant Panini wheel and land on the autograph spot.
I'm giving it away. The autograph in the scan is the one you can have. If you followed me on twitter today, I posted updates and pictures.
Here are the rules:
- Leave a comment to this posting by Monday Night, August 3, at Midnight ET.
- One comment per person.
- I'll use a random generator to pick a winner.
- I'll ship it to you for free in a top loader.
I'm going back tomorrow for more and I have some other cool stuff to giveaway later this week.