Retailers feel insert cards need a makeover

Autograph and memorabilia cards are the key selling points of virtually every new card set that hits the market. But with thousands of these types of inserts having hit the market over the past decade, not all of these cards have the same appeal – or secondary market value – that they once did.

A number of hobby retailers surveyed by Card Trade magazine in the past month say the most basic styles of autograph and memorabilia cards are the most overused concepts in the card market and they’d like to see some new innovations introduced to the market. Detailing what those new innovations would be, however, is often easier said than done. Many of the retailers surveyed admitted they didn’t have a specific idea to suggest to the card companies, but a few specific suggestions did surface.

“I would like to see more oversized jumbo swatches,” said Rob Vandorick of All-Star Baseball near Las Vegas. “Instead of three useless small swatches per box, just put one oversized per box.”

“I think the hobby is ready for an attack of 1-of-1 sketch cards,” said Mike Fata, owner of BBC Galaxee in Bronx, N.Y. “I also would like to see the card companies include box-topper packs in most of their products. They don’t have to be game-used or autographs, just something extra which can’t be found in the regular packs. It gives collectors another incentive to buy a box and a little extra cash for dealers who break up boxes for packs.”

Jay Morgan, owner of Imagine Hobbies & Games in Sherwood, Ark., suggested another idea that would also draw traffic into hobby shops. “How about a ‘trade card’ that would be a brick-and-mortar exclusive program,” Morgan said. “Maybe three or four packs per hobby box that the customer could redeem in-store only for an exclusive pack, then the retailer could cash those in for some other prize?

Have participating dealers register online and regularly report prize pack distribution, and the prizes come directly from the manufacturer to help cut down on misuse. That would genuinely entice the casual collector to purchase at core hobby once in awhile.”

John Dunphy of Cards R Fun in Nashville offered a similar suggestion. “I’d like to see coupons from $5-$50 that would be randomly inserted and could only be used in hobby shops,” Dunphy said.

Charlie DiPietro believes a new take on a concept from the late 1990s might be worth exploring. “Have redemption cards for nicer memorabilia items. To me, that would be a big hit,” he said.

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