Klein’s Korner: The Importance of Seeing The Hobby from All Sides – How many of us wish we could run something (the country, our company, relationship with our wives…) the way we would want to do so and not be tethered by pesky things such as Congress, your boss or even your spouse? Yeah, me too. We always know the answers to the questions we ask anyone and in our business that is true as well.
Sometimes we post or say things quite publicly about our issues and our praises for these card companies and sometimes we just mutter to ourselves and think we can do better. But one aspect I try to do is always see things from all the viewpoints. From the consumer who might only have $20 to spend at Walmart or Target for cards in a week. They might not want to deal with mail order and are not as fortunate to have a local card store or show within reasonable driving distance. Yep. there are many times I go to Walmart or Target and buy an occasional blaster box just to give me something inexpensive to open.
We can also look at the products from a dealers viewpoint. That is, what products do they think can be successfully broken for case breaks or for sales to retail customers? Frankly, sometimes it’s a no-brainer (Topps Series 1, Heritage, Donruss Extra Elite Edition Baseball, Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey, The Cup, etc.) and sometimes it’s a leap of faith past and present. I still remember with great distaste the early days of Sportflics where you had to tilt the card to see the photos. That may have been inventive in 1986 but today those cards are no where near as beloved as the other cards from the over produced era.
Here is the 1986 Sportflic Jose Canseco card and here is the 1986 Donruss card. Now tell me which one you prefer 33 years later? Yep, I do as well.
But there are other issues as well. My friend Mike Fruitman always espouses about the Panini First Off the Line issues. I have less of an issue than he does with them because for the card companies one ultimate goal needs to be direct marketing. Think of Panini Instant, Topps Now, Topps TBT and all the other types of direct to consumer releases. All of these are just another way to get cards into collectors hands and try to expand the market in some way. Yes, I realize you have to be hooked in a bit to get some of these cards but they do make it to Ebay and COMC and are fairly accessible. In fact during the World Cup, Panini used some of their license to release extra cards of Pele through those types of venues and called the card Eternals. Can you really turn down more cards of the greatest soccer player who ever lived?
But the question for the card companies is, what can you do to balance the needs of the collectors, the dealers and those who want to buy cards in a different way? I don’t have the answer but rest assured the companies do care.
Another issue is do you want to do what In The Game did a few years ago and just release a product called “Hits“? As part of my COMC work I was going through the 2016 National Treasure product the other day and every single card was a “Hit” of some sort. At some point do you just want to admit there are not any commons in the traditional sense in these high level sets. We all know what the cheapest cards will be but they are not really commons in the old school thought. Should we just admit certain products have no pure commons and move on?
Remember these companies have to turn a profit to stay in business and we can complain all we want. But if they go under then the card market goes into complete upheaval. Are there other things which can be improved? Of course, and your opinion counts too. Most of the people reading this are the movers and shakers of this business and you all have specific issues you would want addressed. These are some of the issues and I try to be balanced.
Not related to anything hobby related, we lost another New York radio voice from my youth in the past week. The great Ed Baer (and yes he was tangentially related to Max Baer the heavyweight champ) passed on and he retired nearly two decades ago but continued to live on in our memories. As our hobby friends transition we should always honor and cherish the memories of those who helped us in this hobby and continue to use the spirit they gave us in loving the hobby. Ed loved his radio jobs and was blessed to do radio for nearly five decades and we are blessed to play with cardboard pictures of sports and non-sports people.
For more from Rich Klein, follow him on Twitter @sabrgeek.
Klein’s Korner: The Importance of Seeing The Hobby from All Sides