Klein’s Korner: Appealing to Every Customer in the Hobby

Klein's Korner: Appealing to Every Customer in the HobbyKlein’s Korner: Appealing to Every Customer in the Hobby – Before we begin this column I would like to thank everyone for the great facebook discussion on my page about Al Rosen. Many leading hobby figures have spoken their mind and we do appreciate all the people who have read the story and added their own comments in the thread.

I recently saw a note that MLB attendance is expected to be less than 70 million for the first time in several years. Some people, as they have done, my entire life, are saying this decline is the beginning of baseball’s end as our favorite summertime sport. Now, we’ve been hearing that for so long and while there is little doubt all sports are down in interest there is a still way to go before ringing the death knell.

Heck, 70 million is an average of more than 2.3 million fans attending per team and when I was growing up back in the stone ages, teams were thrilled to have attendance of one million. Last time I checked, 2.3 million is more than double the one million goal from back in the day. However, there are some caveats which go with the attendance figures. The American League used to base their attendance figures on actual people in the seats and the National League on tickets sold. Since the visiting team’s take has to do with that number the current standardized way that everyone uses makes sense. With the growth of interleague play, whichever option MLB takes is perfectly fine. This is a photo (pictured above) of the first Yankee Stadium and note how many seats are not utilized by paying customers.Klein's Korner: Appealing to Every Customer in the Hobby

Now today, there is also one other caveat of using ticket’s sold in that when I watch MLB highlights there sure appears to be an assumption that many paying customers come disguised as empty chairs. Is that because the corporate season ticket holders don’t always use their tickets and the average fan can barely afford to go to one game a year. Personally, I’d rather go to a Frisco Roughriders game than a Texas Rangers game if I’m using my own money. I can usually get a pretty good deal to the Double-A game, and because of where I live the drive is 15 minutes instead of an hour. Plus, the Roughriders go out of their way to have excellent customer service. They have the most lenient ticket return policy I have ever witnessed. Yes I know the quality of play is not as good but the other amenities are nearly as good and it’s far more relaxed.

Yes, this is a fairly typical representation of the average crowd at Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Ballpark.

Of course, on one level what the heck does attendance have to do with baseball card business is a fair question to ask but this is part of one of our favorite issues in this business. The Klein's Korner: Appealing to Every Customer in the Hobbyquestion is: does the extra cost prevent more customers from doing business with you? One of my former Beckett teammates who is now with Panini told me about some product which is a $10K retail for 10 cards.  I kiddingly said does each card come with an ounce of gold only to find out the answer was yes. Now, these cards are breathtakingly beautiful but when a pack costs several months of my paychecks, it is a tad out of my league.

Yes, these are some of the same collecting issues that the major league teams have in trying to entice fans into the ballpark because of the cost but at least in the hobby there is some good news. The good news is that we can play at an inexpensive cost for nice cards. I opened a box of Big League Challenge recently and was pleasantly surprised by how much “value” I felt I received.  Now that is true to any and all price levels of opening packs. The store owners out there who understand the collector who buys discounted packs are just as valuable as the whales who think nothing of opening those big packs are deserving of our respect. That is also true for single cards. I guarantee you that many collectors enjoy the base sets just as much as the hits. The only difference is the base set collectors don’t always publicize their purchases but they are just as passionate. We had a nice collector in the DFW area who later moved back to his old Texas home area but all he wanted was to finish the base sets. The great Jj Saenz loved collecting for the joys of collecting and we appreciate him as much as the guys who case break.

And in simplest terms, our role is to ensure all collectors at shows and stores have an experience where they feel they receive either good customer service or good value for their money. I’ve talked about him before but Raymond Jones helps either Kyle Robertson or myself at local shows and is in charge of selling various cards for us. Since Raymond had a card store back in the day when there were at least 30,000 card stores in the country he has a good feel for what items should sell for and I leave him alone to do his work when he sets up for me.Klein's Korner: Appealing to Every Customer in the Hobby

Raymond with Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm.

So, in conclusion, our role and something everyone needs to realize is we need to ensure our customers are in their proper lanes and make sure their experience is positive. It’s even better if they have patience and put away items for down the road. If you had put away all the 2011 Topps Update rookies you would have done quite well over the years selling those cards and using that capital for other items. So, we can explain that the right items socked away do very well. I’ve been going through my inventory and found a bunch of 2011 Topps Update Paul Goldschmidt rookies and recently sold them. Nothing like pure profit for going through inventory and even if they explode, my percent profit is sure hard to defeat.

And because I have no where else to put this story, here’s a quick customer service follow up to an earlier column. As I’ve explained in the past, Raymond comes up and visits me to go through our donations and has made a ton of sets that we’ve been able to use for prizes at the Adat Chaverim show. We usually go out to lunch and one time we went to Boston Market because they were offering a BOGO coupon. While we were eating our lunch a nice lady there came up to us and asked if there was anything else we needed. I asked if she could refill my soda to be hit wit this  “The soda machine is right over there”. Um lady, what was the purpose of that question then?

As always thanks for reading and sharing the word about this great hobby! Follow me on Twitter @sabrgeek.

Klein’s Korner: Appealing to Every Customer in the Hobby
Rich Klein