2019 Industry Summit Recap: Market Strength Unprecedented – The hobby market, from a business standpoint, has seen unprecedented growth in recent years. The lack of access to product was a common complaint heard throughout the show. However, when compared to the hobby’s previous boom during the junk wax era, the restraint shown by manufacturers should be applauded. In a market where the demand exceeds supply, it would be tempting to let the presses run. We all know what that lead to in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
2019 Industry Summit Recap: Market Strength Unprecedented – Day One
The programming began with a panel addressing the topic of Creative Customer Engagement – Fun in the Shop. The panel consisted of Mike Fruitman (Mike’s Stadium Sports Cards), Joe Davis (J & J’s Sport Super Store), and Mike and Nick Jasperson (Jaspy’s Hobbyland). Each presented a perspective on some of the in-store promotions and initiatives they incorporate into their business to drive engagement. The importance of generating return customers and developing loyalty was a recurring theme from each panelist.
Panini America had a dominant presence at the event. With Topps and Upper Deck each having their own B2B industry events, Panini remains as the only major manufacturer participating in the Summit.
Panini Authentic, the company’s autographed memorabilia division, presented their offerings to store owners. A unique opportunity that several shops expressed interest in was the ability to have custom pieces created. Using any of the company’s licensed athletes store owners can have custom inscriptions, photographs and other items created. Store owners also have the option of mailing in their own items to get signed.
Panini used the Summit to showcase its partnership with NASCAR. The panel titled, The Power of NASCAR – Engaging NASCAR Fans At The Track and Through Collectibles. Paul Sparrow, Director of Licensing and Merchandise for NASCAR, joined Panini VP of Marketing, Jason Howarth and Product Development Manager Nick Matijevich. After talking about the business, the panel welcomed reigning champion Joey Logano and up-and-coming X-Finity Series driver, Gray Gaulding. Attendees then participated in a meet and greet with photo opportunity and received specially made autographed trading cards.
Attendees then had the opportunity to meet with various companies to learn more about their products. Lionel Racing, Ultra PRO, Baseball Treasure, TRISTAR, Onyx Authenticated, and several other businesses interacted with customers in small groups that rotated every 15 minutes.
Other panels included Today’s Authentication – Not Just Sports Anymore! This was hosted by industry veterans Steve Grad (BAS), Jimmy Spence (JSA) and Lance Kirkland of OC Celebrity Marketing. The rise in interest of all things pop culture related has seen a growing demand for celebrity autographs. This has created a whole new genre of fraud opportunities for counterfeiters. The panelists discussed various aspects of the authentication process, pitfalls to avoid and other topics related to autograph authentication.
The day closed with a conversation about Marketplace Pricing with Beckett analysts, Brian Fleischer and Eric Norton.
The evening’s recreation consisted of a trip to Rick Harrison’s (Pawn Stars) Rick’s Rollin’ Soke BBQ & Tavern. Harrison himself was scheduled to appear but had to cancel at the last minute. Chumlee was supposed to fill in but also was a no show.
2019 Industry Summit Recap: Market Strength Unprecedented – Day Two
The second day was loaded with programming content as well. The importance of social media in today’s digital age was front and center. Socia Media – Connect & Brand, Drive Loyalty and Growth was hosted by Emily Ouirnette of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Jason Howarth of Panini, Ryan Spence of JSA and Jared Kavlie of Pristine Auctions.
The annual Partners in Progress Awards presentation honors longtime industry veterans and their contribution to the hobby. This recipients are Adam Martin (DA Cardworld), Chris Ivy (Heritage Auctions), Victor Shaffer (Fanatics), Jason Howarth (Panini), Jimmy Spence (JSA) and Dave McCarthy (NHL).
Keynote speeches by former MLB players, Steve Garvey and Dave Dravecky were very well received by attendees. Dravecky’s story of faith through adversity was particularly noteworthy receiving a standing ovation. A meet and greet with photo opportunity (no autograph) then commenced. Each player was very cordial and engaging with attendees.
One of the more interesting and enlightening segments of the Summit was the product development panel, From Brainstorm to the LCS Door. This was hosted by several product development personnel from Panini America. There were concerns expressed by store owners over the number of direct to consumer products being produced. Example’s of these type of products include this year’s Obsidian Basketball, Immaculate Collegiate Basketball and Black Football. These product are in addition to Panini’s First of the Line offerings.
The day closed out with the announcement of this year’s National Hobby Shop Day (Saturday, December 7th, 2019). Summit attendees received an exclusive offer to provide an additional incentive for their participation.
The Breaking Good – Breaking From A to Z panel featured Ryan and Tom from Real Breaks, Chris Justice from Infinity Breaks as well as representatives from distributors. The conversation included a Q&A related to best practices.
2019 Industry Summit Recap: Market Strength Unprecedented – Day Three
The final half-day of the Summit included: trading card awards, Leaf Trading Card product presentation, and Gray’s Anatomy 2.0 – State of the Hobby by Leaf CEO Brian Gray.
Here were the categories and winners of the Industry Summit Trading Card Awards.
Best Promotion – Topps Silver Packs
Best Breaker – Real Breaks
Best Repack Product – Leaf Best of Products
Best Promo – Topps National Baseball Card Day
Best Football Product – National Treasure
Best Pop Culture Product – Topps Allen & Ginter
Best Baseball Product – Bowman
Best Basketball Product – Prizm
Best Soccer Product – National Treasure
Best Hockey Product – The Cup
Best Racing Product – Prime
Best Entertainment Product – Sta Wars Masterwork
Best Non-Traditional Distribution – Topps Now
Best Customer Service – Panini
Best Autograph Card – 2018 National Treasures Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth Cut
Best Memorabilia Card – 2018 National Treasures, NY Yankees Multi-Switch
Card of the Year – 2018 National Treasure Baker Mayfield RPA
Product of Year 2018 Bowman Baseball
Brian Gray encouraged retailers and breakers to enjoy the current market but to prepare for the eventual downturn. He thanked all attendees and presented everyone with a Summit White Box containing a One-of-One autographed card.
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