Hobby Musings: Jaspersen Adding Retail Store to Case Breaking Business – While the online component of the hobby is incredibly strong, there’s still something to be said about the importance of brick and mortar stores. This is even true for an online-based business like Mike Jaspersen’s jaspyscasebreaks.com. Wanting to expand on what his business had to offer, the longtime hobby veteran opted to open a retail location. I had the chance to catch up with Jaspersen to find out more about his new store and his thoughts on the hobby as a whole. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: Mike, first off congratulations on the new store. What made you decide to open it?
MJ: For several reasons. The first is that over the past five years, Jaspys built a successful online breaking business that ultimately required a lot of space. It made sense to forge into retail and take advantage of the entertainment value of the live breaking and combine it with a store, which I don’t think a lot of other stores are doing right now. Our focus in Jaspys’ retail store will be new cards, hot singles and unopened boxes. We will also emphasize making the store a destination and plan to have a viewing area for breaks, card bar, big screens, arcade games and great sports and non-sports items.
KS: What do you think will be the biggest advantages of the new space?
MJ: It will enable us to expand our retail offering and jaspyscasebreaks.com will have more space to expand with multiple breaking studios. We are happy to be able to bring these two communities, breaking customers and retail customers, together for an overall fun collecting experience.
KS: The internet dominates so much of today’s hobby landscape, especially for breaking. That being said, I’ve found it’s still a great, if not better, experience to have a physical store. How vital do you think it is it to have brick and mortar stores in today’s hobby world?
MJ: We started the internet business first and then moved into retail and it seemed an advantage to us in that we had a strong online customer base prior to opening store. This allowed for a built-in community of visitors that wanted to visit Jaspys in person. I think it is extremely vital in the current bull market to have that physical store that customers can come in person and take at look at the investor grade higher priced cards.
KS: You’re someone with a long history in the hobby, how did you get started in it?
MJ: My short answer is, I was lucky enough to be a 2nd generation collector. My dad was a long time, serious collector and taught me to save everything and take care of my cards. I attended my first card show with my dad in 1970 and made roughly $400, which was big money in those days. I was hooked! I have been in the card business ever since in one way or another.
KS: From the time you’ve started to now, what do you think have been the biggest changes?
MJ: Well, the internet, of course, but I feel an even bigger change may be that the quality of the product has changed so much. When I first started, there was one card company that printed gray cardboard cards. They produced the same product repeatedly for decades. Then in 1989, Upper Deck came out with a high-quality glossy card. They set the standard for innovation and all the companies really had to follow with higher and more innovative, creative standards for cards.
KS: Overall what are your thoughts about the hobby as we stand today?
MJ: Overall, the entire collectibles market is very strong, it goes with the economy. In the new trading card category, the demand is outweighing supply, which in turn drives the strength of the hobby industry. I see a lot of renewed interest from collectors young and old.
KS: What do you think is currently the biggest challenge with operating a business like yours?
MJ: Due to manufacturer costs, current production level is low and demand remains high. Allocation and distribution can be difficult to manage, not to mention the challenge of having enough capital to keep your store shelves varied and full.
KS: If someone wanted to start a store or online breaking business today, what advice would you give them?
MJ: Educate and immerse yourself in knowing the product, technology, and current sports market. You must have a detailed plan and stick to it. Especially in the breaking business, you need something to set yourself apart, find your niche. Don’t expect to have a big customer base right away, it takes time. For a retail store, my suggestion would be to limit your inventory at first and use the internet to your advantage. Overall, be prepared to work hard, long hours and have fun!
KS: If there was one thing you could change about the hobby today, what would it be?
MJ: I would like to see the leagues eliminate exclusive trading card contracts. I think competition is better for a market, I like competition. Open markets breed quality and innovation. Because of the money involved, I’m not sure that will ever change.
KS: Looking at the future, what are your hopes for your business and the hobby as a whole?
MJ: The hopes for the business are that we grow it into an exciting destination. We are in a tourist area and hope to capitalize on some of those dollars and make Jaspys a go-to destination. For the hobby, I hope that the manufacturers produce according to collector’s demands and that they continue to create quality products. I hope the manufacturers look to the future generations and continue to capture the interest of the younger generation.
KS: You recently came back from the Industry Summit, what were some big developments that you can share with us?
MJ: The Industry Summit is a great place to meet like-minded business people. They showcase new products and that is always interesting. The big talk this year was the emphasis on case breaking and how it is being realized that breaking cards is the future and is expected to continue to grow. It is a very exciting time to be in the business and everyone seemed hopeful about the future.
Stay up to date on everything happening at Jaspy’s by following them on Twitter @jaspysbreaks.
For more Hobby Musings from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.
Hobby Musings: Jaspersen Adding Retail Store to Case Breaking Business
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