Klein’s Korner: Embracing New Concepts in the Hobby

Klein's Korner: Embracing New Concepts in the HobbyKlein’s Korner: Embracing New Concepts in the Hobby – Recently, I helped lead services at my synagogue after going through a “Learn to Leadclass about how to conduct services. You see, our rabbi, who has not had much time off since he came aboard several years ago was granted some sabbaticals (time off) as part of his new contract.  Frankly, that was a great idea to keep him fresh, let him travel if he wishes and gain new perspectives instead of just being part of the day to day grind.  As for me, while leading services was not exactly new because I had done that before my bar mitzvah way back in the day, it’s certainly different more than four decades later and I did that because I wanted to do something “new” at this point of my life.

As my friend, David Guravich was presenting his D’Var Torah (otherwise known as a sermon) about the book of Numbers, it occurred to me he was discussing how the people, now freed from Egypt, were afraid in many ways to try something new. Instead they kvetched to the point where none of them were allowed to enter Israel at the end of the wandering through the desert. Now, while trying something new is difficult, sometimes we need to acknowledge new concepts.

That’s one of the many reasons I love to see Mike Fruitman’s posts about his store and what he is doing with the store on a given day. Be it, setting up a card show, letting major National buyers such as Reed Kasaoka or Anthony Devine set up shop, having a COMC rep come in to take submissions or any of the other events he runs. He truly runs his store as “Every Man’s a King” and “Every Day a Party“. All this is not even mentioning the player signings occurring frequently at his locale.

And who would not enjoy to a shop where the owner is so enthusiastic about what he does. I’ve never been to his store but I’d wager it’s a ton of fun. I guarantee you if you have some idea on what promotion Mike could do he’s listen to you. I’d suspect the only promotion he’d put the kibosh on is paying to fly me out to talk about the hobby.

Here is Mike taking a weekend sabbatical to actually, ahem, watch baseball games in person. What a concept, a sports card store owner learning by in-person experience.

Klein's Korner: Embracing New Concepts in the Hobby

Klein’s Korner: Embracing New Concepts in the Hobby

Here in Dallas, we are now blessed with many sports card stores of various sizes and ways to do things. One of them is Nick’s Sportscards now owned by Dean Fuller who purchased the store a few years back from Nick and Debbie Redwine. One important aspect Dean has done is to expand to a new store in the same shopping center which was larger and gave him a “fan cave” at the back of the store. He can now host birthday parties, opening boxes/case parties and even a trade night if he so wishes. The large sized TV’s in his store are always turned on to some sporting channel so you can watch some event at all times. All of those were not possible at the old location Nick and Debbie used. And even more importantly, the store still has quite the neighborhood feel although the size is much larger now. One of the best things Dean did upon purchasing Nick’s was keep all the non-family staff so the customers could feel the same during the whole transition.

Klein's Korner: Embracing New Concepts in the Hobby

Now if Dean was British Royalty I could not show the picture of him dining but isn’t downing an hot dog the ultimate fan experience at any sporting event? I’d rather have a simple hot dog than some of the food now sold at the ballparks.

On an unsolicited plug, Nick’s will be celebrating their 30th anniversary the weekend of July 12-14. Nick and Debbie Redwine will journey down to help in the celebration and with the store’s expansion. Dean has shown he can throw a good party. If you attended his official “grand opening“, I’d expect something similar for this trip. It helps his brother-in-law is an excellent caterer so you know the food will be excellent!

Dean, an his fine staff are amongst the people I think of during what is a continuing and growing hobby scandal. Although the store has always been careful to only sell autographs from reputable sources and to only deal in graded cards they themselves submitted this is the first time Dean has had to deal with negative hobby news since he took over the store. Now, I can say with all my experience we as a hobby will survive. You don’t want to be the customer facing person having to answer these questions. This topic made the austere New York Times and for those of us who are hobby representatives these can be very difficult questions to answer. You don’t want to be too “Pollyannaish” but you also can’t ignore reality. While everyone comes up with whatever response is easiest for them to handle,  they must also be careful not to scare off new or potential new customers. We as a hobby need to be focused on the fact that 98 percent of what we buy/sell/trade is perfectly fine and will remain so. Everyone finds their own answers and will strike a balance so not all the hobby news is bad. In fact, most of the news is good but the bad news is not stopping currently. On a personal opinion, I think what Rich Mueller is doing at Sports Collectors Daily is an excellent example of how to move the ball downfield without overly alarming his large hobby readership. He is talking about the issue with details and with fairness and that’s all we can really ask. If we as hobbyists follow what he does, I think that will help our customers with the nuance needed within this discussion.

For more from Rich Klein, follow him on Twitter @sabrgeek.

Klein’s Korner: Embracing New Concepts in the Hobby

Rich Klein

Rich Klein is a free-lance writer living in Plano TX with his wife and two dogs. He has been involved in the hobby since the 1970's and has written within the hobby for more than 30 years. He spent more than 15 years working in the price guide department at Beckett Publications and is currently a catalog maintenance expert at COMC.All views expressed in Klein's Korner are solely those ofMr. Klein and are not related to GTS. He can be reached at Sabrgeek@aol.com
Rich Klein