Hobby Musings: Dave and Adams, Upper Deck team up for fun night

From humble beginnings in a 450sq ft. space to over 42,000, 27 years later.

Hobby Musings: Dave and Adams, Upper Deck team up for fun night – As the hobby giant celebrates 27 years in business, Dave and Adam’s Card World will be hosting Upper Deck with an in-store event tonight. With a lot of activities planned, the event promises to be a lot of fun for everyone who comes. To find out more about this event and to reflect back on the store’s 27-year history, I had the chance to speak with company CEO Adam Martin.

Hobby Musings: Dave and Adams, Upper Deck team up for fun night – Part 1

KS: You’ve got Upper Deck night coming up on May 17th. What will that night entail for all who attend?

AM: Every year, we work with Topps, Panini and Upper Deck to come into the store  for our customer base. Tonight, we’re fortunate that Chris Carlin, is great and loves to interact with collectors, is coming for Upper Deck night. We’ll be giving away lots of free stuff, including boxes of cards. Everyone who comes in will also get an exclusive Jack Eichel Young Guns card that was made for our store. It was originally used as a stadium giveaway, but we saved a few for events like tonight.

KS: Something like this usually entails a decent amount of planning. How was this event put together?

AM: We’re putting on a big comic-con this weekend, and Upper Deck generously offered to be a sponsor. Since Carlin was coming in for that, it made sense for him to come in a day early and do something for the sport card customers.

Hobby Musings: Dave and Adams, Upper Deck team up for fun night

KS: Fan engagement is typically a big part of the sports card business. How important are nights like for your store and customer base?

AM: I would say that it’s incredibly important. In today’s day and age where the landscape is dominated by Amazon and other companies, you have to do everything you can to set yourself apart. The more things you can do for your customer base, the better. You want your store to be a fun place where customers can do more than just shopping. Events like this make the retail store a special place to go, so we try to have those as often as possible.

Hobby Musings: Dave and Adams, Upper Deck team up for fun night

Adam Martin (R), with the always entertaining, Chris Carlin (R)

KS: You have a local hockey team in the area with the Buffalo Sabres. How do you feel hockey

performs as a trading card category compared with other sports?

AM: For our retail store, it’s our top seller. We have a lot of Canadian customers who come down. Plus, we’re in a rich hockey market here in Buffalo. As far as online, though, baseball is number one.

KS: If you had to give someone on the fence one good reason to come to this event, what would you tell them?

AM: I’ll give you two. Chris Carlin is extremely entertaining, and he alone is worth the trip. Plus, we’re going to be giving away so much free stuff that it’s definitely worth coming.

Hobby Musings: Dave and Adams, Upper Deck team up for fun night – Part 2

KS: Congratulations on the anniversary. How does it feel to reach the 27-year mark?

AM: It’s pretty incredible really. Even in my wildest dreams, in this industry, I couldn’t have imagined that we would have had the longevity that we’ve had.

KS: For people who don’t know, how did Dave and Adam’s Card World get started?

AM: I collected cards when I was a kid during the 70s, hockey cards. Then I left it for a while. In college, I got a part time job in a card store and started doing shows. I was pretty good at the whole buying and selling thing, so I looked around and said maybe I should open a store. I asked a bunch of people if they wanted to do it, and Dave was the only one said yes. We got a $3k loan from the bank and we were off and running.

KS: What would you say were the biggest challenges in your early years in the business?

AM: Compared to a lot of other stores in the Buffalo area, we got started pretty late, so we missed that whole 80s card craziness. By the time we opened in 1991, it was more challenging, and a lot of the stores who made the easy money during the 80s craze were finding it more difficult to thrive. We made some connections with the candy companies in the area as they were the only places you could get boxes of cards at the time. We were careful with our expenses too. We lived in an apartment above the store, and we were very careful to recognize that at any time, you could go under, just like we saw with many stores around us. I think in 1991, in the greater Buffalo area, there were 50 card stores and a card show almost every night of the week, but very quickly there only about 10 stores left.

KS: What would you consider the company’s proudest accomplishment during its history?

AM: I would say that our proudest accomplishment is that we recognized the power of the internet early. We became very active online in the mid-90s. We got very involved with eBay and just started growing a mail order customer base there. Then we launched our website and almost immediately, our company began to grow rapidly. For us though, growing rapidly meant going from two people to six people.

KS: Beyond your physical stores over the years, you’re also known for your website. Looking at it now, how would you say the internet has affected the business and the card industry as a whole?

AM: It shrank the world. Originally, when we wanted to buy Jim Kelly rookie cards, we had to run classified ads in hobby publications. With the internet, we could reach out more directly. Items that were once super rare had instantly become globally available.

KS: Beyond the popularity of the internet, how do you feel the trading card business has changed from when you started to now?

AM: So, obviously in the early 90s, the most expensive pack was a few dollars. There were a few autographs that were practically impossible to pull and no game-used memorabilia cards. People speculated by buying a few hundred of a particular rookie card hoping to get rich. Now you have things like Flawless Basketball and Cup Hockey with high price points. It just wasn’t like that 27 years ago. Plus we’ve seen the hobby explode internationally. When we got started, most sports trading card collectors were centered in the United States and Canada, and now it’s a global phenomenon.

KS: A few years ago, you opened up your gigantic megastore. How do you feel having that kind of outlet has affected your business?

AM: I would say having a 42,000 square foot retail store came about somewhat by accident. We were looking for a smaller space and the owner of the property made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. It hasn’t changed our overall business that much since most of our revenue is still derived from online sales. What it has done is change our place in our community as the store has become almost a landmark in the area. We have events, we allow groups to conduct events free of charge, we have birthday parties every weekend and we have free arcade games for kids to play. It’s become a travel destination for card collectors all over the country. We have athletes for signings, whether they’re local stars like Jack Eichel or Hall of Famers like Cal Ripken Jr. Four times a year, we set up a 30-table card show in the store, and we give free tables to our best customers to allow them to sell their cards, and that’s been well-received. We have gaming organized play several throughout the week as well. There’s always something going on, and It’s become a lot more than just a store. It’s become something special that even I didn’t foresee.

KS: What do you think is the coolest item your store has ever bought/sold in its history?

AM: When we started in 1991, it was pretty much me and Dave buying whatever came into the store. Now we have over 20 people traveling across the country and buying collections. Over that span, we’ve bought some pretty incredible things. Back in 1991, I bought thirty 86-87 Fleer Basketball sets. The next year, we bought hundreds of game-used sticks, including ones from Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr. We owned a T206 Honus Wagner for a few weeks in 2000 and helped broker a deal with that. We’ve also had an unopened case of 1961 Fleer Football.

KS: So with 27 years in the books, what does the future hold for Dave and Adam’s Card World?

AM: We have our own line of products in Hit Parade that have been successful, so we’re looking to grow that part of the business. We’re continuing to hire and expand. We’re up to over 100 employees and looking to expand our international business. I just came back from a seven-day trip to Hong Kong and the Philippines. We’ve seen Japan taking off in the baseball card market, and over the past several years, we’ve seen basketball trading cards take off in Asia and Australia. The European market is still growing, and we are striving to be part of that. We won’t eliminate the possibility of opening a physical store abroad. We’ve discussed opening a store in mainland China, but at this point we don’t have any immediate plans to do so.

Hobby Musings: Dave and Adams, Upper Deck team up for fun night

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