Klein’s Korner: How the Hobby Handles Hot Products

Klein's Korner: How the Hobby Handles Hot ProductsKlein’s Korner: How the Hobby Handles Hot Products – As a hobby writer there is very little that stokes one’s ego more than one of your articles creating a great discussion. The article about turning over the keys to the next generation actually fostered a very positive discussion on a subject we touched on last year as well. That is, with all the great rookies this baseball season, almost every product has exploded out of the gate with accompanying higher prices. As we noted last year, that is both a positive and a negative. The energy players such as Soto and Acuna have brought to the card market is great to see in terms of getting interest in younger collectors. One aspect to remember is younger collectors do tend to focus on what they see and being able to see rookies have amazing seasons beats old black and white film of the 1950’s players.

But as we noted the drawback is sometimes the average collector feels they are left out by all the excitement. I’m personally thankful to the great Michael Fruitman who ensured I was able to purchase one 2017 Heritage Hobby box at or near cost (plus shipping) as Heritage is my favorite product each year. For me, Heritage is really running into my sweet spot in terms of the sets I collected by buying bubble gum packs way back in the day. I personally can’t wait to see the 1970 design with the improved technology and I’ll wager the chrome cards will look out of this world! We are thankful to Michael because we had a near repeat this year thanks to one Mr. Ohtaini and those boxes exploded upon release. I noted last year how the boxes went from $74 to $130 at my LCS in a week and I think this year was very similar.

Now, here comes the dilemma and this is something everyone who purchases new cards in the hobby has to deal with. First off, the card manufacturers have to figure out how much to produce to ensure they make a profit. Remember that word, profit. Yes the card manufacturers are entitled to figure out how to produce quality products while making enough money to stay in business. With Topps re-upping with MLB properties until 2025 they will see ups and probably a down or two along the way.Klein's Korner: How the Hobby Handles Hot Products

The next step is the distributors. A company such as GTS has to ensure they receive their product and also get the material out to their dealers. Their issue is how to ensure they serve the customers who purchase everything from them and see what they can do for newer customers or those who buy things on a hit or miss basis. Now you do want to serve everyone but you might be allocated enough cases to do so. Making those decisions is never easy and what do you do if there is a new store opening and they want to buy from you. We want to encourage people to open but it they get locked out of these issues, that makes their success that much harder. When I saw Paul Wirth at the National (he’s the person on the right in the photo) and used to be Eric Norton’s radio partner on the Fat Packs podcast he was buying up inventory for his new store in Waxahachie, Texas. Now, he will need to be able to get new items and will have to build a relationship with distributors such as GTS.  So, how do you ensure people like Paul, who are dedicated to the hobby get included going forward? We don’t want to shut out newcomers and prevent them from helping the hobby by doing well.

Klein's Korner: How the Hobby Handles Hot ProductsStep three is the store owners. If you are a store owner, what do you do and how do you handle these products? Most of your better store owners try to be fair to their regulars and make sure they get first crack at the new wax at a reasonable mark-up. If someone spends with you most every week, you want to make sure they have the opportunity to open the winning items at a fair price. Every store does their business differently. A great quote from Dennie E Worden: “We do not sell below a 30% margin. I take care of my regulars the best I can on super hot products. I know I loose some to internet sales because I do not match their prices, but probably 75% of the time they will buy it anyway from me as they want it now and I have good promotions that they enjoy being part of that community which is totally lacking on internet sales. Once we start matching, they will come to expect it all the time. I try to have fair margins for me and the customer.” One thing retail stores can do and used to do back in the day for new products is a trading system. Many collectors leave their base cards in the store so why not use those cards and help your regulars finish their sets. That’s an promotional example of what you can do for collectors. Another is to create a club and give them points or benefits for each purchase.  Many other things can be done but that is what Dennis is saying. This photo is Dennis and his wife.

I think Rob Veres put it very well for those thinking long-term about the business and this dilemma: “Just hoping the next generation remembers that this business is a hobby, not a mechanism for gambling. I’ve instilled this in Ryan, just hoping that other 20 somethings that we entrust the biz too embrace this as well as the current environment isn’t maintainable.

Finally, the collector has the ultimate say because if they do not buy these cards then the prices go back to the expected level if not cheaper. As for me, I’m enjoying the ride from the sidelines and am grateful for all the interest and feedback in my writings.

P.S. A reminder for all concerned, our next Adat Chaverim charity show will be Sunday, September 2nd from 10A-4P and Monday September 3rd from 11A-3P of Labor Day weekend. In the words of Dr. James Beckett: “I think Plano has the most collector-friendly show in the history of the hobby. If you go…to Rich Klein’s Adat Synagogue show, I promise you you’ll walk out with more than you came in with. For a dollar, you’re going to have to back up your truck. I guess I can say that’s the other show I go to besides the National.”  Adat is located at 6300 Independence Parkway (In the shopping center at the northeast corner of Spring Creek and Independence) Plano, TX 75023.

Klein’s Korner: How the Hobby Handles Hot Products
Rich Klein