Non-Sport Update's Card Talk
Trading Cards - a diminishing customer base ?

This topic can be found at:
http://nonsportupdate.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/9816075901/m/401105528

January 14, 2005, 06:32 AM
Cyberbats
Trading Cards - a diminishing customer base ?
I think we are all aware that the card and comic collector base is shrinking whilst at the same time, the number of dealers (predominantly part time dealers) is increasing.

Many distributors are cutting back orders to manufacturers, equating their orders to the pre-orders they receive from retailers, and in many cases retailers are limiting their orders to those they receive from customers.

Ebay is great if you are a collector, but it means ever decreasing margins for genuine retailers, many of whom are beginning to go into other product areas.

Retailers need to make a profit. Apart from having to put food on the table and pay their bills, they need to be able to reinvest in new stock.

I think the fact that both distributors and some manafacturers who used to be exclusively concerned with trading cards, are also looking at new avenues and product lines means that they too have an inkling of the decline in demand for trading card product.

Is the collector base in decline ?

What is the future for the hobby ?

I would be very interested in hearing all your views....
January 14, 2005, 10:39 AM
WarriorBabe
Speaking as a buyer, I have noticed some websites saying this set will be supplied on a pre-order basis. But then they go and stock it after saying that.
My interest is growing rather than decreasing!

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January 14, 2005, 10:57 AM
wolfie
I don,t think the collector base is declining but it is certainly moving away from the traditional way of buying and collecting cards.

Ebay has everything to do with this. As more people get internet access and realise what sort of prices the cards can be purchased for on auction it makes the prospect of actually going to a show less appealing.

As was mentioned elsewhere to go to Memorabilia costs a lot of money and that is before you get through the door.
When you look at what you could have purchased on ebay with that money then going to the shows becomes a non starter.

Is it too much of a stretch of the imagination to see a future where dealers no longer exist and the manufacturers sell cards direct to the public via internet auctions.?

Food for thought but just a bit sad. Frown

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January 14, 2005, 11:07 AM
Cyberbats
quote:
Originally posted by wolfman-golf:
I don,t think the collector base is declining

Is it too much of a stretch of the imagination to see a future where dealers no longer exist and the manufacturers sell cards direct to the public via internet auctions.?

Food for thought but just a bit sad. Frown


Less titles, smaller print runs and more close-out product does not suggest that the collector base is stable and certainly not increasing.

Collecting cards is a great hobby to all those who are involved, but isn't it a little complacent to not recognise a diminishing collector base and not try and do something about it before the trend is irreversible ?
January 14, 2005, 11:12 AM
make-mine-marvel
my 2-cents:

no new card producers can enter the market because of cost & saturation

non-sport card collectors can actually increase from here. many fans still do not know they can get autographs & costume pieces.

i do think that companies will stop producing sets that are not going to be sell-outs. it breaks my heart that Six Feet Under wasn't a smash success, and will end with one set.

too many small-time jokers are all over the web. these are over-zealous fans that bought a whole case for the discount, and are selling a few boxes & singles. i agree this hurts the "store." only the strong will survive. many cities do not even have one really good store now.

as eBAY makes their fees higher, and the big producers make the rules harder for being able to buy directly (must own a store & tax ID, etc.), we're going to see some super-stores survive. the mom-&-pop stores are going under.

just my 2 cents.

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January 14, 2005, 11:17 AM
Cyberbats
quote:
Originally posted by wolfman-golf:
Is it too much of a stretch of the imagination to see a future where dealers no longer exist and the manufacturers sell cards direct to the public via internet auctions.?




Agreed.

However, regarding the viability of the non-sports market - your in the UK so i'll restrict this question to UK dealers - how many UK card dealers do you know that don't have a regular job to support their business ?

The answer will be very close to zero.

We don't, but we have other retail operations.

If the hobby was so vibrant, all those UK dealers wouldn't have to be wage slaves as well....
January 14, 2005, 11:23 AM
Cyberbats
quote:
Originally posted by make-mine-marvel:

non-sport card collectors can actually increase from here. many fans still do not know they can get autographs & costume pieces.

.


Thats exactly the type of response I was looking for. Thhe manufacturers have to bring the hobby to a wider audience, and it may also be a good idea to issue some product at a cheaper price point (no chase cards) to go into Walmart etc
January 14, 2005, 11:25 AM
Cyberbats
quote:
Originally posted by make-mine-marvel:

too many small-time jokers are all over the web. these are over-zealous fans that bought a whole case for the discount, and are selling a few boxes & singles. i agree this hurts the "store." only the strong will survive. many cities do not even have one really good store now.

.


Do you not think there is a connection between 'small time jokers' and the disappearance of the hobby dedicated knowledgable store you mention ?
January 14, 2005, 11:49 AM
LesleyW
quote:
Originally posted by wolfman-golf:
As was mentioned elsewhere to go to Memorabilia costs a lot of money and that is before you get through the door.
When you look at what you could have purchased on ebay with that money then going to the shows becomes a non starter.



I think this is where Collectormania in the UK has filled the gap.

Memorabilia is fast approaching the point where I can't justify the amount of money I spend to go there - even before I've got in the show. The main reason I go to the show is to meet up with people and have a smooch around for bargains. I can do that just as easily at Milton Keynes and if I decide not to buy anything it will cost me less.

I forsee that in a couple of years I will probably only go to the November Memorabilia show for the Cardtalk meeting. For the other two shows I'll go to Collectormania instead, they are usually on at similar times of year anyway.
January 14, 2005, 12:10 PM
olly
Wave Full time dealer here without a regular job!

But like you Cyberbats I have other non-ebay non card retail interests.
January 14, 2005, 12:25 PM
xSaBx
quote:
Originally posted by wolfman-golf:
Ebay has everything to do with this. As more people get internet access and realise what sort of prices the cards can be purchased for on auction it makes the prospect of actually going to a show less appealing.



That's all very well if there are people on Ebay actually selling what you want, and there are some pretty large gaps in the market. Yeah, if you want cards from the last 10 years you're pretty well sourced, but pre-that... you have to find the right person.

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January 14, 2005, 12:29 PM
xSaBx
quote:
Originally posted by LesleyW:
I forsee that in a couple of years I will probably only go to the November Memorabilia show for the Cardtalk meeting. For the other two shows I'll go to Collectormania instead, they are usually on at similar times of year anyway.



I don't need to go to another Memorabilia again, theoretically speaking: anything that's an 'Exclusive' is still available post-show, at a monthly show literally 20 minutes from home. Those dealers deserve my support to keep going in increasingly difficult conditions, and with a £2 entry fee, frankly it's madness to consider how much petrol plus costs are in a Birmingham trip. I reckon it's at least £100 for me to do one of those, before I even buy a card.

Like Lesley, I think the only reason I'd shell out that kind of cash would be for an Official CT Meeting... Big Grin

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January 14, 2005, 12:52 PM
Arvin Sloane
The last few posts on this thread tie in quite well with the discussion that is taking place on the "SD Comic Convention 2005" thread.
Yes, it does cost quite a bit of money to attend one of these events and therefore if you aren't going to make a vacation out of it you probably shouldn't attend.
If on the other hand you don't have lodging costs or travel costs to worry about then a visit to one of these shows is well worth it.
Shows will always have a place in this hobby, as there is nothing better than pressing the flesh and meeting collecting buddies. Nor is there anything better than touching and seeing the items that you are considering purchasing in person.
January 15, 2005, 10:26 PM
mykdude
Would have to agree with Arvin on this one. A good convention isnt just for purchasing collectables. This is where you meet the dealers, manufacturers, fellow collectors and movie stars all in one trip. You get to see a broad view of the scifi collecting hobby and have a blast doing it with your family. I wouldnt trade it for any "ebay" experience.

I think there are many things plaguing the store front owner but after entering stores both in the states and overseas I have one main complaint and it is attitude. Many of the people that open these stores are great fans of sci-fi but they are awful when it comes to customer service and store layout.

I think the reason we see less production numbers is because the hobby is recovering from the 90's where you still can buy boxes for as little as $5. The hobby basically blew itself up and I think is doing a great job at nursing it back to good health. Its going to take time but we'll get there.
January 16, 2005, 10:24 AM
STCardGeek
quote:
Originally posted by Cyberbats:


Do you not think there is a connection between 'small time jokers' and the disappearance of the hobby dedicated knowledgable store you mention ?


Not completely, no. I think some of them disappeared cause they couldn't change with the times.
I have a client who continues to purchses his boxes from his local dealer. He desperately wants to keep his money in the community and I admire him for that and I don't try to talk him into switching..or I hadn't until lately when he said his dealer hadn't gotten in his Dead Zone boxes for a month or more after the release..why? Cause Diamond hadn't sent it to the dealer yet, hello?!! 30 days of missed opportunities to pick up the cards he needs and sell of his dupes gone cause Diamond still takes forever to get orders to clients? If the dealer wanted to keep his loyal customer, he'da found a new way to do business. People and the customer bases has changed and if the infrastructure and membership doesn't change with it, that causes problems both at local stores and shows.
Which doesn't mean there isn't an affect from the small time jokers. I felt it very recently myself and I'm still annoyed about it, but as with any issue, there is more then one cause and one cure.

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January 16, 2005, 11:15 AM
john the hat
I think I have said this before ,but here goes again, the small shows will vanish if they are not supported more by people like Sarah, we travel to these small shows because of the dedication of collectors that cant afford to travel to the Mega shows, its also great if you can cover your costs and meet collectors and other dealers alike, as Sarah said its local, the cost is small , I for one am grateful to Sarah for the support she gives to us Thumb Up

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January 16, 2005, 02:02 PM
wolfie
I love going to the little friendly shows. I have been to Cheshunt which was a really nice fair and i have been to basildoom.

We have a small fair in Birmingham now and again but i guess my local fair is the NEC which is why the big fairs are the ones i attend the most.

____________________
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January 16, 2005, 02:09 PM
cverdec
I totally agree with Arvin & Mykduke on this!! Shows are a blast. My wife has gotten into collecting as a result of attending shows with me, and we make "mini-vacations" out of attending a few a year together. I will usually go to 1 or 2 more on my own just to catch up with a few friends & collectors.

I know of a monthly show in the DC area, and have not made the trip yet. John & Sarah make a great point, and I think I really need to start attending these.

As for the state of the hobby/collector base. I got back in to the hobby about 3 years ago after having left it in '94. I was amazed at how many of the collectors and retailers from 10 years ago were gone, but there were still a few of my old friends around.

In the last year, I have started to see a lot of new faces at the shows I attend. I personally find this encouraging, and I believe that is has to do with the hobby reaching a broader audience. This is primarily due to the efforts of manufactures and the comercial success and fan loyalty of certain properties (IMO) Big Grin. Properties like Buffy, Angel, Charmed (although I don't collect these) from TV and LOTR, Star Wars, Star Trek and Harry Potter from the movies are really starting to draw people in, and I'd like to "thank the makers" (Inkworks, Rittenhouse, Artbox & Topps) for investing in making some great sets! Big Grin

As for the idea of making "cheaper cards for Wal-mart", I think is already being done through the Hobby vs. Retail boxes. Retailers like Wal-mart, Target, Suncoast among a few others are stocking Non-sport Cards, but I'd love to see a few more jump on the wagon. Thumb Up

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January 16, 2005, 02:34 PM
hammer
quote:
Originally posted by make-mine-marvel:
my 2-cents:

too many small-time jokers are all over the web. these are over-zealous fans that bought a whole case for the discount, and are selling a few boxes & singles. i agree this hurts the "store." only the strong will survive. many cities do not even have one really good store now.just my 2 cents.


Why can't collectors buy a case and sell-off the spares? What makes them "small time jokers"? Because "real" dealers lose business? Surely it's anybody's right to buy the cards the way they want to and sell/trade them how they want to as well. People don't "have" to buy from dealers, it's called a free market!!!
January 16, 2005, 03:07 PM
Cyberbats
quote:
Originally posted by STCardGeek:
why? Cause Diamond hadn't sent it to the dealer yet, hello?!! 30 days of missed opportunities to pick up the cards he needs and sell of his dupes gone cause Diamond still takes forever to get orders to clients?


I think you may be being a little harsh on the dealer there ?!

I can't speak of what happens in the US, but Diamond in the UK were a complete joke when we had an account with them.

We never really ordered cards through them as we always ordered case quantity through the Trading Card and Gaming Distributors in the UK.

If the dealer you are talking about has a comic/card/figure store, it make more sense for him to order TWO boxes of 'title x' through Diamond, than it does ordering a whole case from a trading card distributor, especially only on the strength of a pre-order of two boxes.

However, if he is an exclusive non-sports card retailer, then you are right, he should have alternative sources.