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What happened to the Inkworks records
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NSU Writer
Picture of Don Norton
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I agree 100% with Jon. Inkworks was innovative and always one of the best companies for customer service. It is sad they went out of business, but now, years later, I feel their cards still hold value and collectibility.
The liquidation of autographs that took place in the Target rack packs was a brilliant way to sell off product and get them in the hands of the collectors.
 
Posts: 2831 | Location: Crystal Lake, IL | Registered: December 04, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Don Norton:
I agree 100% with Jon. Inkworks was innovative and always one of the best companies for customer service. It is sad they went out of business, but now, years later, I feel their cards still hold value and collectibility.
The liquidation of autographs that took place in the Target rack packs was a brilliant way to sell off product and get them in the hands of the collectors.


I'm with Don, Batman & Jon
 
Posts: 11922 | Location: England | Registered: September 16, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I joined this forum back in 2006 so that was a little before Inkworks shut down but I don't recall any of this animosity toward Allan/Inkworks at the time. Either I wasn't paying attention to it or it just didn't interest me.... I don't know. I always thought that he and that company were beloved. Confused
 
Posts: 2072 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: September 14, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of Raven
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I think its not necessary to be with anyone or against anyone. This thread is painting a pretty accurate and complete picture of what was going on at the time Inkworks stopped communicating, shut down and went into quick liquidation with just two bulk buyers dividing the hits between autographs and relic cards. It's history and history doesn't change.

I'm not with anybody, I have no skin in the game, so I can appreciate both sides. Inkworks was THE BEST card company for card collectors for many years. More than a business owner, Caplan was an advocate for the non-sport card hobby and he went out of his way to make customers feel a personal connection. His innovations became models for other card makers. All was good, until it wasn't.

In the last couple of years before closing down there were bad business decisions, obvious bad titles, bad luck, but bad finances was not well known. So it was a big surprise when Inkworks stopped talking and there was never any official announcement by Caplan that I can remember. The word just filtered out and the rumors were confirmed and he just disappeared without a public word, leaving collectors and business associates to their own fallout when the liquidation started.

I bought boxes and boxes from Razor and had a ball getting cheap autograph cards that I never had and some fairly rare hits included also. Of course the market prices were dropping too, as everyone else was busting cheap boxes, but it didn't matter unless you were holding those cards already. And it didn't matter that so many of the cards were previously redemption only if you weren't stuck with sealed product or the now unredeemable redemptions. The relics went off to some UK dealer, so I never took advantage of anything that was on that end. The less Inkwork cards you had before, the better it was.

So I made out great, but not everyone else did, and people got angry and are still angry. They felt betrayed by a massive holdback of inventory that they didn't know about and maybe they thought they should have been warned or gotten a piece of it themselves. Just business, nothing personal. Wink

That's about it from my perspective and I don't think anyone has to be defended or anyone told to forgive and forget. There were other options I'm sure, but that was the option taken and it did taint the legacy. That's history, what are going to do?
 
Posts: 8369 | Location: New York | Registered: November 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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“Taint the Legacy” May be your opinion and that’s fine, but that’s not the opinion of many others. If it was your business or my business would we have done things differently? Anytime someone loses their business it’s tragic, but I don’t care if you sell toilets or spy satellites, if you lose your business you are going to try to sell any remaining assets to offset the debts of the business.

____________________
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Posts: 5695 | Location: Brielle, NJ | Registered: April 03, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I was responding to Logan, who didn't understand why there were negative feelings expressed over a "beloved" company. I have no opinion on it, that is what happened.
 
Posts: 8369 | Location: New York | Registered: November 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Contest Czar
Picture of barobehere
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As we have learned so well lately, history is perspective now and not set it stone as it may have been.
Allan, Doug, and forgive me if I don't remember the correct spelling Alyssia at Inkworks were incredible to me as a store owner or out on the floor or a convention. When Doug went on to other ventures it was one of the few times I was truly saddened by someone leaving a company. They made great cards that I enjoyed. My friend, Trey, and I still talk about the time we had together collecting Inkworks products and they produced so our our favorite sets.
In the end, they did what had to be done.
So, Inkworks will always live on in my memories as one of the great non sport card companies.
 
Posts: 5711 | Location: Meridian, Mississippi | Registered: November 23, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Raven:
I have no opinion on it, that is what happened.


Your posts above are full of your opinions.
 
Posts: 4770 | Location: Parts Unknown. | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by webjon:
quote:
Originally posted by Raven:
I have no opinion on it, that is what happened.


Your posts above are full of your opinions.


Not that one. I was going for perspective. Big Grin
 
Posts: 8369 | Location: New York | Registered: November 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by barobehere:

So, Inkworks will always live on in my memories as one of the great non sport card companies.


And with me Thumb Up
 
Posts: 11922 | Location: England | Registered: September 16, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of cardaddict
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Just to put my 3 and a half cents in. I had a few mail order dealings with Inkworks, and all I can recall is their generosity in sending me extra cards when there was a minor glitch with things I had ordered. So a thumbs up from me too.
 
Posts: 2287 | Location: USA | Registered: November 08, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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Why are some so uncomfortable with anything but glowing praise being leveled at Inkworks?
To take only the positives, of which there were many, and ignore what happened at the end is to whitewash what happened.

If I were in Allan's shoes, would I have liquidated remaining inventory at the end for mine/my employees' sake? For the creditors or whoever? YES. Obviously. I think we all would. A couple of points on that however:

  • Why did they have SO much in inventory left over? There were THOUSANDS of autographs and pieceworks in the liquidation, enough to create an entire product (or two?) by Razor. Some cards are always needed for damage replacements but would the majority of cards not have been better served inserted in boxes of the original product? For both collectors and dealers? So many cards would have been more accessible for so many.

  • They were great at fulfilling expired redemptions, the best in fact, but this positive image cultivated by Inkworks caught people with their pants down at the end. Particularly dealers sitting on unsold product. As has been mentioned in the thread, Inkworks kept their closure quiet up to the last moment... the cynic in me says to avoid conversations about refusing redemptions and thereby allowing them to keep hold of stock for liquidation, rather than for their original customers.
    I expect some will say, "Inkworks didn't have to honor redemptions for so long after they'd expired, aren't they wonderful!" but there were times where the hits for an entire product were redemption only, and people still bought these boxes of promises from them. Inkworks sold A LOT of product on goodwill, which was not reciprocated in the end.

  • They accepted redemptions far too easily as part of their business model, from start to finish. How much time and money was wasted on their end administrating redemptions over the years that could have been better spent surviving in the marketplace? No collectors want redemptions. Surely any card manufacturer would rather avoid them too?

  • If a licensor mandates the destruction/non-distribution of cards due to end of contract, Inkworks should not have had certain cards available to liquidate. But they did, and lied about it, and that showed some shady business practice. Sorry, but it was. Just because a licensor didn't appear to go after them doesn't make it OK. Just because collectors got another shot at cheaper cards doesn't make it OK.


You should never collect cards for investment, I never intend to sell that part of my collection and some of my best card collecting memories are tied up with Inkworks, so pure monetary 'value' is something of a moot point. But his actions did devalue what collectors and dealers had put their hard-earned money into. It is reasonable that any collectibles manufacturer would get backlash from customers after flooding the market with more product, that is supposed to be limited in nature, later down the line.

I think Allan's quiet winding up of the business, and swift exit from the scene, was proof enough he was aware there would be some bad feeling. Otherwise why not go out with his held high after doing so much for the hobby?

Look, I'm not out to bash Inkworks. I liked their stuff, I still do. I wish they were still around. Their website and content was great, especially where sketch card scans were concerned. Their internet exclusive promos were great, I always loved sending for those. Their customer service was second to none. All that stuff didn't save them though, and that is as lesson in and of itself.
 
Posts: 3068 | Location: England | Registered: June 23, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by X:

If I were in Allan's shoes, would I have liquidated remaining inventory at the end for mine/my employees' sake? For the creditors or whoever? YES.


A company undergoing bankruptcy has obligations to the court administering the bankruptcy. Before going out of business, Inkworks would have been stupid to destroy unredeemed cards - they had value, and destroying them would have been like setting $100 bills on fire. Afterwards, it almost certainly would not have been legal to get rid of assets that could have been used to satisfy creditors.

quote:
If a licensor mandates the destruction/non-distribution of cards due to end of contract, Inkworks should not have had certain cards available to liquidate. But they did, and lied about it, and that showed some shady business practice.


How would you know what the contracts between the licensor and Inkworks said? Those are typically trade secrets.
 
Posts: 1504 | Location: Huntsville, AL United States | Registered: November 30, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just as a point of reference, I never heard anyone say that Inkworks declared bankruptcy. They may have, but it was never mentioned here. If it was formal bankruptcy, people holding valid redemptions might also be considered creditors. So I think we best not make legal assumptions, unless someone was privy to it.

Common sense, if a company is going out of business, depending on what options are available, of course they sell off their assets and of course its usually for the most they can get.
 
Posts: 8369 | Location: New York | Registered: November 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't know how the Inkworks shutdown went (anybody know the particulars?), but when a company's assets are to be liquidated, an independent liquidator may be appointed and no one at Inkworks would have had a say. People holding redemption cards, valid as they were, would have likely been farther down the line of creditors than a bank, the liquidator's costs, employee compensation, and others. I can understand the frustration some collectors and dealers might have had (and still have) - the people who regularly bought cases and tried out boxes. However, there was no way for Caplan to sneak out a few last cards to FOA's at that point.

If people are saying Inkworks was discounting a lot of stuff right before that and that hurt the value of cards they'd been collecting for years, that was a company just trying to stay afloat long enough to make it to better days.

If people were irritated that there was so much stuff in the vault, they should remember that redemption cards were honored long past their expirations. I don't know what counts as "too much." Webjon brought up a good point. Other companies that went out of business (Comic Images, Collect-A-Card, FPG) each had a load of cards leftover too. I'm going to assume that when a company makes cards, they print more than they end up packaging. They plan on a certain case number but they might settle on a smaller number because of an unexpected jump in costs or delay in the process but cards might be printed early. Even the rare card in the set with maybe 50 cards going into circulation might have another 50 or more sitting around, depending on many were on the sheets and allowing for test sheets for quality control. They save the extras in case someone wants a replacement for a damaged card later. I'm sure some stuff ended up in a closet and was forgotten about. A card company in business for 10 years or more is going to have a lot of extras.

It was my understanding that Caplan threw in extra stuff for dealers buying a bunch of stuff. I knew he saved SDCC promos for dealers and collectors who couldn't go to the show. He might have pulled from the vault to add a "sweetener" to a deal. Maybe someone can confirm for me how that Small Soldiers Phil Hartman card was distributed. It just seemed to appear separately after the set was released. I know it was originally Hartman's autograph card but he was killed before he could sign any and it became a "tribute" card. Was this card sold to dealers or was it one of those extras Caplan gave out with orders?

Yeah, I remember the Inkworks booth at SDCC in the late 90's and into the 2000's. It was a big and flashy set-up and that was the time when setting up at that show was getting expensive. Movie and TV companies were driving up the prices so fewer card and comic companies could afford a big presence there. I met Caplan then. He and his employees were nice to everybody, handing out cards right and left, and he was spending extra time not just with friends but with people he didn't know when he could. The last time I went to SDCC in 2001, Inkworks was there. I think it will still be a little weird not seeing the company there when I go again.

Jess



quote:
Originally posted by Raven:
Just as a point of reference, I never heard anyone say that Inkworks declared bankruptcy. They may have, but it was never mentioned here. If it was formal bankruptcy, people holding valid redemptions might also be considered creditors. So I think we best not make legal assumptions, unless someone was privy to it.

Common sense, if a company is going out of business, depending on what options are available, of course they sell off their assets and of course its usually for the most they can get.
 
Posts: 1985 | Location: San Jose, CA, USA | Registered: December 23, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
quote:
Originally posted by X:

If I were in Allan's shoes, would I have liquidated remaining inventory at the end for mine/my employees' sake? For the creditors or whoever? YES.


A company undergoing bankruptcy has obligations to the court administering the bankruptcy. Before going out of business, Inkworks would have been stupid to destroy unredeemed cards - they had value, and destroying them would have been like setting $100 bills on fire. Afterwards, it almost certainly would not have been legal to get rid of assets that could have been used to satisfy creditors.

quote:
If a licensor mandates the destruction/non-distribution of cards due to end of contract, Inkworks should not have had certain cards available to liquidate. But they did, and lied about it, and that showed some shady business practice.


How would you know what the contracts between the licensor and Inkworks said? Those are typically trade secrets.

I asked Allan what happened to any remaining stock of his James Bond titles after they lost the licence. He said they had been destroyed, as per the licence agreement. I said that was a shame. He agreed but said Inkworks were not allowed to distribute those cards anymore.

This was at a Memorabilia show in England, 2005 from memory. Several years before they went bust.

15 years after he said that, a UK dealer is still selling cards from the liquidation that Allan said no longer existed.
 
Posts: 3068 | Location: England | Registered: June 23, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think a lot of the criticisms are based on unrealistic expectations, and that in general the Inkworks critics are much harsher on Inkworks for doing the same things that other manufacturers do/did.

quote:
Originally posted by X:
  • Why did they have SO much in inventory left over? There were THOUSANDS of autographs and pieceworks in the liquidation, enough to create an entire product (or two?) by Razor. Some cards are always needed for damage replacements but would the majority of cards not have been better served inserted in boxes of the original product? For both collectors and dealers? So many cards would have been more accessible for so many.



There are many valid reasons to have inventory -- many were already discussed, but also nearly every manufacturer who has gone out of business has had lots of excess inventory left over -- and -- it's not like all the sudden thousands of really rare cards popped up. Mostly it was mid range to average cards.

quote:
Originally posted by X:
  • They were great at fulfilling expired redemptions, the best in fact, but this positive image cultivated by Inkworks caught people with their pants down at the end. Particularly dealers sitting on unsold product. As has been mentioned in the thread, Inkworks kept their closure quiet up to the last moment... the cynic in me says to avoid conversations about refusing redemptions and thereby allowing them to keep hold of stock for liquidation, rather than for their original customers.


Isn't this how just about all businesses close? They've closed several chains around me in the last year, and none of them whispered to their customers that the end was near. . . just one day they announced they were closing. . . That's it. I think it is unreasonable that anyone expected more than that.


quote:
Originally posted by X:
[LIST]
  • They accepted redemptions far too easily as part of their business model, from start to finish. How much time and money was wasted on their end administrating redemptions over the years that could have been better spent surviving in the marketplace? No collectors want redemptions. Surely any card manufacturer would rather avoid them too?


  • Valid criticism, however I'm sure Inkworks would have preferred avoiding redemptions, and part of that was going to sticker autographs which some vocal people really screamed about. . . If you talk to any manufacturer about getting autographs and avoiding redemptions it's kind of a nightmare. There is a thread right now on Blowout where Marco from 258 has talked about no longer doing autographed cards because it takes 2 weeks to get cards printed and that 2 week window creates a big enough risk of celebs backing out that he'll no longer do them (which is a huge bummer). Brian Gray talks about stickers/redemptions on Twitter from time to time as well.

    quote:
    Originally posted by X:
    • If a licensor mandates the destruction/non-distribution of cards due to end of contract, Inkworks should not have had certain cards available to liquidate. But they did, and lied about it, and that showed some shady business practice. Sorry, but it was. Just because a licensor didn't appear to go after them doesn't make it OK. Just because collectors got another shot at cheaper cards doesn't make it OK.



    There are assumptions here. I have no idea what the inner workings were, but it is entirely possible that Inkworks sold the assets prior to the license expiring. Perhaps Inkworks the company sold them to Caplan personally.

    That might not make it 'ok' in some people's mind, but from a license standpoint it is entirely possible that nothing shady happened.

    I understand that's not what he told you personally, and that you may personally feel slighted by that, but I also don't think the CEO of a manufacturing company owes collectors any sort of explanation and can understand why they might keep things from collectors.

    On a side note -- I've heard stories of Dino from Dart drilling holes through cards and cringe at that thought that a stack of Steve Irwin autographs was destroyed. Personally I'd rather see the cards hit the market that get destroyed, so I definitely have a bias on destroying cards . . .
     
    Posts: 4770 | Location: Parts Unknown. | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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    Picture of Raven
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    quote:
    Originally posted by webjon:
    On a side note -- I've heard stories of Dino from Dart drilling holes through cards and cringe at that thought that a stack of Steve Irwin autographs was destroyed. Personally I'd rather see the cards hit the market that get destroyed, so I definitely have a bias on destroying cards . . .


    Than he is a man of integrity if he was obligated to destroy property and he did it. Too often things manage to find the backdoor to the detriment of those folks operating within the rules.
     
    Posts: 8369 | Location: New York | Registered: November 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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    Another fact, not an opinion, I’m sure. You don’t have opinions.

    ____________________
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    Posts: 5695 | Location: Brielle, NJ | Registered: April 03, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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    I feel like I'm trying to have a rational conversation with a conspiracy theorist.
     
    Posts: 4770 | Location: Parts Unknown. | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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