Klein’s Korner: Looking At How The Hobby Has Changed Since 1991 – Recently, my good hobby friend Lisa Stellato announced she was shutting down her store’s doors after 27 years. I know of a couple of people who have stated that they wonder how the store could no longer succeed. When I heard that, my thought was 27 years was one heck of a run. If you think about it, these are all things which have become popular since 1992 and this is far from a complete list. Those things include: Smart Phones, Facebook, eBay, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instragram and who knows how many other things we now consider commonplace in our life. That list does not even include the growth of the internet which is the way you receive this column.
To keep up with those dizzying changes, the evolution of the hobby since 1992 and all the other challenges of a store on a day to day basis is quite an accomplishment. So, Lisa has my utmost respect in keeping her store open for so long with all the new ways business is conducted. Lisa knew so much about the business, how to price cards and how to treat collectors properly that any one with her skills will be missed on a day to day basis in this hobby. Lisa will continue to be involved in the hobby but not in a store capacity.
This is a photo from her National Convention setup
And remember it’s not just how Lisa’s business has changed but so many things have changed since 1991. One of them is after more than four decades of being a leading place to view important boxing matches, HBO stopped covering boxing effective at the end of 2018. Seeing how Jim Lampley, who had been the boxing voice for approximately 30 years had to be the one to bring down the curtain on their storied history. This was so well produced in terms of the introduction and so sad in terms of the conclusion.
Heck, the Topps Heritage product is well established but in 1991, there was a decade before Heritage would even commence. Heritage is just one of many product examples which were not even in the hobby’s mindset in those days. You know the concept of “Hits“, well in 1991 the Hits in football were players such as Dan McGwire, Browning Nagle and Todd Marinovich. And if there were signed cards in 1991 of the premium rookies, how expensive would those cards have been. Today, the key autograph would be Brett Favre if such cards existed in 1991. We look with almost a blasé look about game or event used cards in packs, back in 1991 that would have changed the world. How much demand you think there would be if we went back to the overproduced era of football cards and had signed cards of those players I mentioned and players such as Tony Mandarich.
So when we think of Lisa closing her store, let’s not think of anything like a failure but commemorate her achievements and everyone else who has remained in this hobby for the long term. Not only Lisa, but also so many others deserve our support and our job as retailers, wholesalers and collectors is to continue to reach out to all people and work on maintaining our relationships and love for the hobby.
One of the other great lessons is always to be yourself. Lisa was herself, Mike Fruitman is himself, Rob Veres is himself and I’m myself and thousand others in the hobby. And we all enjoy this business and will continue to help the growth.
For more from Rich Klein, follow him on Twitter @sabrgeek.