Hobby Musings: National Hobby Shop Day To Offer Shops And Collectors A New Experience -With the holiday season upon us, the hobby will go through its own special type of madness. I mean this in a good way as Black Friday and the ensuing weeks typically offer collectors a large variety of sales. Whether it’s wax or autographed memorabilia, it is undoubtedly one of the busiest times of year for those selling sports memorabilia. As such, many companies like Panini have offered special card-based promotions on Black Friday as incentives for collectors to buy. This year, GTS Distribution will be offering its own promotion with National Hobby Shop Day on December 9. For more this, I had the chance to catch up with Mike’s Stadium Sportscards owner Michael Fruitman, who explained what it’s all about.
KS: For those who don’t know, what does GTS’ National Hobby Shop Day promotion entail?
MF: National Hobby Shop Day gives participating shops the opportunity to reward their collectors with incredible autographed pieces. There are incredible programs in place from each Panini, Topps and Upper Deck with bonus packs, but nothing at the level that GTS came up with. If you are reading this, please check with your LCS and make sure that they are part of the program. I mean some stores have not gotten involved yet and won’t be rewarding you this holiday season as they easily could.
KS: This was actually an idea you came up with. What spurred you to think of it?
MF: A few months ago I was out to dinner with some hobby shop owners, Michael Ant who owns the Sports Source 2 in Studio City, CA and Rana Bindra, who owns T & R Sportscards Gaming And More in Cheyenne, WY. We were talking about the success we had recently enjoyed with National Baseball Card Day and were bummed that there was not the NFL equivalent. Sure Panini offers the Player Of The Day program, but there was no single day event to really focus on. After some brainstorming and refining, it was time to approach GTS about trying a first ever promotion during the holiday season. To this point, Panini has pretty much owned the holiday season for promotions and only recently has anyone else tried entering their domain.
KS: What was GTS’ reaction to the idea when you pitched it?
MF: Pitching GTS to support hobby shops has never been an issue and this time was no exception. GTS has been an incredible partner with my shop and countless others. They have had a Jerseypalooza promotion in place for a long time and it was my hope that they would offer the program with a little additional support. Rob Bertrand from GTS took my idea and basically put it on steroids. Participating shops just have to purchase products they should be stocking already and with each qualifying purchase, they get free autographed pieces. In addition, GTS will be offering stores free packs & free supplies and to top it off, $100 to spend on pizza or something else to feed the expected masses.
KS: What will you being doing that day in store promotion wise?
MF: Since I spent about as much on restocks to get as many prizes as possible, I actually already started offering collectors the chance to get chances to win. I set it up so that each $25 spent on participating products gets you a ticket to place in item specific bags. My prize selection includes a Frank Thomas signed bat, unsigned Bowman baseball jersey, signed items from Tim Hardaway Jr., an autographed basketball, jersey and 16×20 from Magic Johnson, signed football jerseys from Todd Gurley, Christian McCaffrey, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana, a signed 16×20 and Maple Leafs jersey from Auston Matthews and a signed boxing glove from Manny Pacquaio. Suffice to say, I’ll be breaking my previous record for autographed items given away in one day.
KS: Which part of the promotion do you think will resonate most with your customers?
MF: What’s cooler than free stuff? I had a blast the other day watching a collector who had busted a case of 2016 National Treasures MLB drop all his 80 or so tickets into the Matthews jersey bag. Others are spreading their chances out between different signed items. It’s like watching someone play roulette with autographed jerseys instead of chips on the line and I’m having fun seeing where they place their entries. The Montana jersey seems to be getting quite a bit of interest and I’m glad to report that the Bowman jersey has also been getting lots of love.
KS: How do you think this event will differ from other store-driving promotions done by the card companies?
MF: Looking at this year’s holiday season pack promotions from the manufacturers, collectors have chances to get autographed cards from Topps with their Holiday Packs, individually numbered parallels and chances to spend $250 at the UDA store from the Upper Deck Winter Packs and the usual assortment of parallels, autographs and memorabilia from the Panini Black Friday packs. Thanks to GTS, my collectors on 12/9 will walk out of my shop with signed pieces from not only some popular prospects, but also some of the greatest to ever play the game.
KS: As someone who has hosted these kinds of days before in your store on several occasions, what kind of affect do they have on your shop?
MF: I don’t look at my store as a shop; it’s a clubhouse with cards. It’s like your man cave threw up, someone added a cash register and the sports card equivalent of Mick Foley to run it. I try to throw a party at my place every day, only on 12/9, a few thousand dollars worth of memorabilia will find a good home. I’m looking forward to seeing some of my younger collectors as well as my more established shredders , trying to outsmart each other with where they drop their tickets. I’m guessing at some point, that the Tim Hardaway Jr. bags will get some ticket love as well.
KS: Overall, what are your hopes for the first National Hobby Shop Day?
MF: Part of the reason that the timing of this promotion is so important is that while December is a solid month at my shop, so many of my collectors spend what is typically their card money on gifts for others. It is also my hope that those shopping for my collectors will be excited by my biggest giveaway ever. It’s my hope that shops become more aware of promotions like Jerseypalooza so that they can continue to receive support from distributors like GTS throughout the year. Talking to some shops, there is some resistance until they can see how they can involve their collectors like I do. I can’t tell you how many Christian McCaffrey jerseys I gave away this year for ordering products that sold well for me.
I also want to see GTS embrace this and make it an annual promotion. Sure there is a commitment on the part of shops to be part of this promotion and not every store is designed to drop what I did on it. After looking at the participating products and reward program for Panini Black Friday, I am spending much of what I could not spend on that program with GTS and I believe that I will see greater sales as a result. What I am looking forward to the most is being able to share pictures of happy collectors holding up their well-earned jerseys, bats, photos and boxing glove on my social media and emails.
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