Card companies view mass-market retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Meijer and others as important outlets for attracting new collectors to the hobby. With card sales at larger retailers having increased in 2006, with some brands seeing increases of more than 100 percent over last year, card companies are hoping that means there are plenty of new hobbyists around the country.
Retail chain stores generally carry the lower-priced product offerings from each company in an effort to attract purchases from kids or parents who may not buy a lot of cards and are looking for a low-priced way to get started. So how cards are selling at retail is generally considered a good way to measure how many new customers are coming into the hobby.
“We’re pleased with all of the retail sales numbers and seeing such significant increases,” said Kerri Stockholm, senior sports marketing manager for Upper Deck. “But for us, one of the most encouraging stats was the performances of the products that contain a lot of regular cards as opposed to inserts. Those are products that tradtional collectors generally don’t purchase.”
Scott Silverstein, Topps president and chief operating officer, also said the company is optimistic the sales numbers mean more people are buying trading cards. “It’s too early to celebrate, but it’s still quite encouraging,” Silverstein said.
Why did sales increase in 2006? On the football side of things, virtually everyone credits the increases to the excitement over this year’s rookie class – particularly early demand for Vince Young, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. On the baseball side, Stockholm believes the increases are related to the coordinated marketing efforts between Upper Deck, Topps, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, as well as the reduction in product offerings that helped eliminate some of the collector confusion over what products to buy.