Klein’s Korner: Three hobby stores, three success paths – I’m a frequent guest on hobby podcasts but I truly enjoy taping episodes with Dr. Jim Beckett. We usually have a group of topics to discuss and let them marinate before taping. There is no pre-show discussion and we literally just wing each segment.
One aspect I like is he is very willing to talk about very important hobby subjects which affect all of us. Recently, we had a discussion about how he, as an owner and a businessman, handled the hobby explosion of what we now say is the “Junk Wax” era.
And to be honest, some of the biggest benefactors of the 2020 hobby surge are most local card stores. Yes I’m very fortunate to have three of those within 20 minutes of where I live. There is a person who I know that is a minimum of three hours from any shows or stores and has to battle for items at the big box stores. So my experience is very different than many other collectors because I can do a ton of stuff in person where other people are totally dependent on a service provider such as USPS, UPS or FedEx to deliver their items.
What’s interesting is all three of the local card stores have or will continue to expand during this time which is designed not only to increase income but also give extra options on generating income if and when the next slowdown hits the market. And since nothing lasts forever (not even cold November Rain), being able to adapt and survive is just as important as being able to adapt and thrive.
We’ll commence with Triple Cards & Collectibles. As I pen this, the owner should be just about finishing his plans of expanding from his base store to three locations in the DFW area. This expansion is based on his business background of having a network of stores in his original business. Since he is used to running a multitude of stores he has the experience of understanding how to successfully operate several retail outlets. If something occurs with the primary store then you have other options to move your base of operations. This is a way of mitigating the eventual downturn which will occur.
Next up is Nick’s Cards. On my last trip to his store they sold, within 15 minutes, three boxes of Spectra Football at current market levels. The three different collectors who purchased those cards went to the back room where there is a store associate ready to open them and then arrange cards inside in what he said was “worst to first”. He would take the 16 cards out of the box and put them into groups and announce each card to the purchaser. He also would say what the “retail” value of each card was. But, while the play by play of the value was important to those collectors, even more important was that this took place in a separate room.
A couple years ago, Nick’s moved four stores down to their new location in the same strip mall. One of the reasons for the move was to enable people to have birthday parties or other events in the expanded store which had been going great until this March. Even if the hobby softens, there will still be collectors wanting to congregate and banter, or enjoy other people’s company. This will be an important aspect for Nick’s continued success.
Finally, Kyle Robertson has a small but nice card store. Now his location is much set up to be an office and a buying location but he still wants to generate a profit for the retail location. So what has he done to increase his income? He has basically created a room in which one or more breaks occurs every night and posted in appropriate locations for people to view.
Doing that and adapting from what had been a smaller successful monthly show to several bigger shows during a year has also been a boon to his business. And yes he is a bit lucky where many other established larger shows are not, for various reasons, able to have events in 2020. Being able to run shows has also allowed many dealers and collectors from around the country to attend since those shows may be the biggest game in the country. But if there has to be a show pullback, he is used to running smaller shows and can return to that world. Also the breaks can continue no matter what the hobby is.
So that’s how three local stores have adapted and thrived. I urge everyone take advantage of the good times and thrive and set yourself up for long-term success just as these owners do. There is nothing wrong with taking a profit at this time if you are a collector and putting that money back into the hobby or setting yourself up for future additions to your collection.