About Me

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Card Shop thoughts

Sometimes I use a comment as a springboard for a post:

deal said...
Looks like somebody is already workin on that card shop!

My thoughts:
I have no illusions that opening and running a card shop is easy. I am trying to get as much information as I can from the collecting community. I read and think about every comment, even if I don't initially agree with it, I try to view the idea from that person's perspective.

I see the landscape of card collecting to be different this time next year, whether it be few products or a shift back to set collecting or whatever. Frankly, UD cancelling products is good for the hobby, but I am concerned that they may cut the wrong products.

For example, cutting masterpieces might be a mistake. I understand that you can have technology or GU/autos but not both. I don't think I agree with it. Masterpieces may be more expensive to make, but you put fewer cards per pack, like chrome, and limit the number of packs per box. If by technology, one is referring to UD X, Spectrum, or whatever, they can keep that crap. That was the problem with cards in the 90's, too much "technology" and not enough substance. But I digress.

I think the basic idea of running a business now and then are the same. You have to carry wax that people like to buy. My idea, unless I see something I really like or really hate, is to see the reaction of the bloggers and such within the first couple of days after release. In addition, I can see how much interest I get from customers. If it is a lot I can make sure I have a few boxes on hand at release, but not worry about a case or more, because I can have a case in my shop in 3 days.

If I had a couple boxes of masterpieces (which was a flop at retail because the boxes didn't yield much value) and I didn't sell them, i could dump them on ebay, or bust them for singles, losing $10 a box at most. At least I didn't lose $10 on a case worth of boxes.

You have to meet the customers needs, but losing $20 worth of profit because I didn't have enough in stock and missed out on one or two sales isn't as bad as losing $10 on a case worth of boxes. I think there is a balance to be struck.

Another Idea I thought about was having a couple HDTVs ( one time $1000 expense) up on the wall with HD sports on them. Also, having wireless internet available ($50 a month). I can administer my own (network).

The comment I have received about customer appreciation and raffles was a great idea. I planned on running a promotion where, with each box over $40 you get a free 800 count box, over $60 free binder and 20 plastic sheets, over $100, all of the above and some toploaders. Or giving people their choice. I know that supplies are one of the things I hate buying, but are necessary.

After I build up a client base, maybe having case break parties with a discount on the case. The nice thing is that you can do this with kids on some lower end stuff. Maybe even offer birthday parties for kids with a baseball theme or football or whatever.

Hours: My dad will be running the shop most of the time with me there on Weekends. I was planning on being open Tuesday - Sunday 11-6:30 staying open late for promotions.

Advertising: I will probably start a second blog that is only about the card shop. Youtube box breaks, maybe. Ebay Sales on higher end cards that I pull from boxes and boxes to drive revenue. Phone book ad with hours and mention of promotions.

Inventory: Because I can buy as many or as few boxes as I like. I was thinking of purchasing a case and a half of the main products. The case would be for box sales only so I could guarantee that I had not opened any of the boxes from that case and thus the case hit is available. I would then open half a case or a few boxes to have some hits, singles, and set building commons available. I like the idea of having cards sorted by teams, but I think I have to choose between catering to set builders and team collectors. Maybe for a products such as A & G I could sort by number for set builders, but for sets that people dont seem to be building I could sort by team. I have to work through that.

Thanks for all of your comments, I would encourage all of you to comment and let me know your thoughts. Don't be afraid that I might not like it, all input is important.


FanOfReds said...

This ought to be interesting for you and for your readers. I hope you continue to post your "trains of thought" on certain aspects of setting up a business.

On a business side, I wouldn't have that wireless setup available unless your prices are EXTREMELY competitive with eBay and only sellers. It'd be too easy for Customer X to say "I like that set, let's see what I can get it for online" versus "I like that set, and I'm here already, so I might as well purchase a box."

stusigpi said...

That is a good point. I was hoping someone would bring this up.

I do plan on being competive with ebay. I probably wont be able to beat there prices head on, but when you figure in the cost of shipping and the risk of never receiving your purchase, I am going to be close. As I said I don't have to worry about squeezing every last dollar out of the sales so I can eat. I am doing this for the fun.

Frankly, there are too many card shops that act like DA, Blowout and Ebay don't exist. These are those idiots that charge $95 for a box of A & G or $110 for Threads, Gear, Leaf Materials and the similar boxes, when you can get them on ebay for $30-$40 less on ebay SHIPPED. Those A-holes still get sales. I will be able to get those too.

I see myself running fairly thin margains 10-15% but when you figure in shipping for an ebay purchase, the buyer is paying about the same. Obviously not every product will work for this business model.

To get back to your point. If I have wireless I can let a customer check ebay while they are there and it might actually help me get the sale. Ebay's BEST price on Threads baseball $60 plus shipping on some. My price $67-$70 and you can have it right now. No need to wait for shipping, or not knowing who you are buying from.

If the customer wont buy because they can get it for $7 cheaper and wait a week or two then there is nothing I can do on that box for that customer. Some of those people I will never get sales from, they are going to beat me over the head for every last dollar. They are the constant tire kicker. Having worked in retail for quite a few years I learn to recognize the signs of what type of customer you have. Maybe I can get that in between customer that isn't sure because in their mind, they dont want to feel like they got taken advantage of.

Plus, gross profit on a box is gross profit. It I paid $60 and I can sell it for $64, I made 4 bucks on that box toward my rent or other costs, If I miss out on that sale then I have nothing.

Groat said...

The card shop in Arizona I used to frequent would gladly order boxes for you from their supplier if you liked. They generally had them within a couple days. I suppose this would kind of take care of the whole not having enough stock for people thing.

Anonymous said...

First, I'm a little blown away. I have wanted to open a hobby shop since I was a little kid and now that I know much more about business (I'm an accountant by day), I literally think about it every single day and am trying to figure out the best ways to go about entering the market. Best of luck to you. Part of me wishes other people weren't trying to get into it also, but the more the merrier. The hobby may be in trouble right now, but I think people need more options right now than fewer. Plus, I'm at least a year or two away from even doing the very basic business functions (creating a company, fictitious name, sales tax license, etc.).
Some things to keep in mind is all of the business stuff. You seem to have a very good mentality with the customer/hobby enthusiasts input. That's a great start. Just don't forget the behind the scenes stuff like sales tax, registering your business with the state, any copyrights you want to protect intellectual assets, etc. If you're not sure of these things, definitely find a local and affordable CPA or lawyer to help you with this stuff. It's well worth it. As an accountant, I too often see people forget simple things and then have to pay excessive fines/penalties from the state/federal government, as well as much higher legal/accounting fees to fix what should have been a mundane task.

But you probably knew all that already...

AdamE said...

One of the things I miss most about card shops is playing Home Run. We would have Home Run competitions all of the time and the owner always sold a ton more wax than on a normal day. For anyone who doesn't know what that is A group of people get together and open packs, the person who pulls the player with the most Career HRs gets all of the cards reguardless of what is in them. Make sure who is going to pay for them all before packs are opened and everyone understands that even if they pull a auto/relic it goes to the winner. We paid for things two different ways. Sometimes each person would pay for the pack before hand and sometimes the person with the lowest HR would pay for all the packs. After the first break the winner calls the next stat (RBI, ERA, K, etc...) and everyone opens another pack.