Front of the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas

Day #1 At The Industry Summit
In Las Vegas, NV

Sunday March 17, 2012

Official Website

Schedule Of Events

Day 2 Links & Info

Day 3 Links & Info

 

#LVIS Hashtag Tweeters

@SportsCardNews

@Industry_Summit

Sunday is a day where many people are still flying in or traveling to the Las Vegas Industry Summit. But here are some of the highlights on the schedule:

Noon - 2:30pm is the Retailer Annual Meeting
At 2:30 Kevin Issacson (the host and the person who coordinates the event) is welcoming everyone.
From 3:00 - 7:00pm The show flow with 20 exhibitors is open.

That's about it! - Lots More Happens On Monday - Wednesday


 

Camera Icon Photos From Day 1 At The 2013 Industry Summit 

Sports Card Radio

Ryan Tedards
Check Out The Entire Photo Album Here: 2013 Las Vegas Industry Summit Photos

Brande Roderick Signing Autographs At Industry Summit Orleans Casino Conference Rooms
Brande Roderick Orleans Conference Rooms
Osama Bin Laden Card From Famous Fabrics Mojobreak Booth
Osama Bin Laden Card  Mojobreak Booth

TV IconVideos From The Summit
 

MojoBreak

LIVE Breaks & Video During Event

 
   

2013 Benchwarmers Summit Exclusive Box With Brian Gray - Mojo Break

 

 

 
Interesting Tweets
Follow #LVIS Hashtag Tweeters for up to date tweets through the day
 













 

 
Letter A Icon Day 1 Notes From The Floor:

Retail Networking Topics - These topics were discussed among retailers on the opening day of the 2013 Las Vegas Industry Summit. Below are the questions that were asked:

  • What did you do last year to profit from your Industry Summit promo items and giveaways?
  • What are your best strategies to save $$$? (Turning down heat at night, selling used supplies...ect.
  • What items in your store off the largest profit margins?
  • What was your single biggest sales day, and what were those sales?
  • What unique ideas do you utilize to bring new customers into your store?
  • What is the best decision you made for your business this year?

Promotions

  • Robert Griffin III Autograph Jersey With Purchase From Peach State Sports
  • Order 4 Cases of Panini Product and Get An Autograph Magic Johnson Jersey From Sweet Deal
  • Get A Free Box Of Prizm Football By Doing A Box Break In Your Store From Magazine Exchange
  • Cover Photo Cards From Beckett Media
   
Microphone Icon Audio From 2013 Industry Summit  
   
Sports Card Show Interview With Ryan @SportsCardNews
- Sunday March 17, 203 -
 
   

Day 2 Links & Info

More Links & 2013 Industry Summit Infomation To Come When It Becomes Available

Dear Sports Card Makers of all Shapes and Sizes:

These issues need to be addressed.  If I do not see progress toward these fronts I will personally raise these questions at the 2013 Las Vegas Industry Summit, the 2013 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago and on your favorite social media venue of choice. I have spent the better part of my life involved in the sports card industry.  In the glory years of the 1990's I sorted cards in the back of a bustling California card store. In the early 2000s I was a "pajama retailer" - selling boxes on eBay of 1996-97 Finest Basketball and 2003-04 NBA products to make extra money while in college. In 2008 I went broke with my brother running our own card shop for two years. Down and out in 2008 my brother started Sports Card Radio while I went to work managing a medial office....... In late 2009 I "retired" and began working on Sports Card Radio and a number of other sites my brother created. In 2012 over 1.3 million people visited Sports Card Radio making it one of the most viewed sports card sites on the internet. All of the work on the site is done by either myself or my brother Colin. We've turned down countless requests for advertising in an effort to keep the information bias free.  We didn't create this site to sell ads or make friends with card companies. We created this site for collectors and their interests.

I've seen card companies, and more importantly, customers of sports cards dwindle from those early 1990's glory years.  Which isn't necessarily a negative thing. Those years in the 1990's were unsustainable from a business perspective, and was a bubble that was bound to pop.  In 2013 people still love collecting cards. It's just more niche and specialized.  I love people who geek out about sports cards. I'm a fellow sports card geek who happens to also like aggregating information for people to enjoy for years to come. A blessed sports card geek in a way. Because I certainly have the time to travel to Vegas, travel to Chicago, travel anywhere I need to in 2013 to make sure these issues at the very least get addressed. 
 
 

1) Do NOT address customer service issues with "Well this is not my department...."

Topps Customer Service

   
From what I can gather Anne made a purchase on ShopTopps and ended up being shipped the wrong item. She originally posted on Topps Facebook on December 6th, 2012 to no response. She posted again on December 19th which got this reply from the administrator of the Topps Facebook. She also stated that she had been repeatedly calling customer support on the phone to no response. The item she ordered was going to be a Christmas present.

Don't do this:
- If you are the administrator of a company Facebook page, and post under the company name, then customer service is your department. Point blank period. Post under your own name if you want to say things like "this is a completely different department." Do not post under the company name and say that to a paying customer. That should be common sense. 
   

 
2)  You need to give people a choice when you can't redeem redemption cards 
   
Open just about any product now and collectors will have a good shot at pulling a redemption card. There is also a decent chance that the card company will not be able to fulfill that card. More often then not, redemptions are for autographed cards. Sometimes, companies cannot get the athlete to sign their cards and that might be totally out of the card manufactures control. Athletes can be lazy (about signing cards) or hard to track down. Collectors by and large (have come to) understand that. Topps Redemption
 

But here is what card manufactures don't understand. Don't just dig through a box, find a "Beckett valued" equivalent card and send that as a replacement for an un-fulfilled redemption.  That's a joke.  You realize that people live and die by some of these cards? They wait and wait for the card of their favorite player to come redeemed in the mail. When you can't come through for your customer, bend over backwards for them, or don't put the damn redemption cards in packs. Give them choices when you can't redeem a card. Don't disappoint them by you arbitrarily picking a replacement for them.  They didn't win that redemption card in a contest. They bought that card with their own hard earned money.  Now card companies you need to earn your money. The way you deal with redemption cards you can't fulfill is a joke. Fix it.

As a side note - the other issue is the cards having an expiration date all together. I've heard this question get raised many a times at many different venues and never gotten a great answer. I'll see what I can do in 2013 to get a clear picture.


 
   
3) Stop letting product hit retail (Target/WalMart) before hobby shops get it 
   

This issue is what helped me go broke back in 2008 running a card shop. I remember people telling me about finding 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter at retail 2 weeks before I could get it. Now you see it happen all the time, mostly with Topps products. Any retail heavy product, Topps Series 1, Bowman, Topps Update, etc can be found at place like WalMart before hobby shops get their boxes. It's a slap in the face to those shop owners. Because they get their customers wondering why "you don't have it but Target does." 

WalMart Stock
I get how Target and WalMart pushes out product. I was a manager at Target. Time sensitive material like Video Games, Music CD's, DVD's, were stored in this locked environment until release day.  You can't do that with baseball cards. It's just too expensive and Topps, Panini and Upper Deck don't really care.  But your dealers do. Ship the Target/Walmart crap out after the Hobby stuff. You can do that. You can control what gets shipped when.
  
4) You got to do something about these sticker autographs 
   

They look weak. And..... in 150 years will that sticker autograph still be attached to the card?  How strong is the glue you know what I'm saying?  I know that is the furthest thing from your mind. But geeky dorks like me actually think about how these cards will be perceived long after I'm gone.  The reason for the stickers is obvious. It cuts costs and allows you guys to crank out the required sets per sport.  But they are potentially worthless cards, literally, if the glue ever wears out on those sticker applied autographs.

Elton Brand Sticker Autographs
You don't want to make on-card autographs. It's too much work. Way too much work. Every damn card needs to be approved by the league. Cards need to be printed in advance and it's real easy to just go to that file with 1,000 Ryan Broyles stickers with autographs on them. It's easier for the athlete as well. He/She just signs a bunch of stickers and is paid and done.

But when is crap just crap? When has a sticker autographed card looked nice? Talk to the people who have your license. The NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL. Plead with them. Tell them you are making products just to compete and crank out 18 sets a year per sport. Tell them you need on-card autographs. Have that conversation. See what they can do. Can they be of any help?

 

5) Treat people with respect and reach out to dealers not on social media

   

Seems obvious. But just do a quick glance at company Facebook and Twitter (gloss over all the free swag being given away) and look at some of the customer complaints. Many go un-answered.  I've seen numerous, what I'd characterize as rude, comments by company employees on Twitter. Search sports card forums like Blowout Cards and Freedom Cardboard for "Customer Service" and read for yourself how some long time collectors get treated.

It's gross. People who spend thousands of dollars get no response. But companies continue to give away stuff on social media daily while redemptions go un-fulilled, questions remain un-answered in company inbox's and nobody is picking up the phone.  How about this, a little less stroking yourselves off on social media and a little more grassroots. I never got free boxes when I owned my hobby shop. Spent thousands a month. Was broke all the time. Never got a phone call from a card company. Never got a letter. Nothing. If they had Twitter and Facebook back in 2006-2008, I wouldn't have had the time to follow that stuff. I was trying to grind out $3,000 a month just to break even. Twitter and Facebook don't cut checks.  I can personally guarantee everyone, Twitter and Facebook has never cut a card company a check for any amount. Dear card companies, you have to reach out to these people who are grinding online or at a hobby shop. Make them feel good. Give them a surprise email. An out of the blue phone call.  Don't wait for them to at tweet you. Stop worrying about "the next set" for a second.  These guys are selling the stuff that's out now. Granted - you the card company has already proclaimed "sold out at the factory" but show some respect to these people who are grinding away selling this stuff.

I'd pull my hair out if I still had my hobby shop. Since I stopped selling product, stress has virtually vanished from my life. I don't worry about margin, or how I'm going to come up with that $1,500 retail rent.......... which is just the start to the bills card shop owners pay. These same card shop owners and online retailers will pay $400 a head just to get into the Las Vegas Industry Summit. I've been to the Vegas Summit twice and the card company employees always put on a good face in front of the hard working dealers. Say some of the right things.  But there are too many issues that keep cropping up each year. Redemptions, sticker autographs, lack of communication with dealers and customers.  The latter being the most important to me. It bothers me that people routinely have poor customer service interactions with card companies. Most of the issues never get brought out into the forefront.

I have a tremendous amount of time to monitor these issues to see if they are getting addressed.
Ryan Tedards


 

  2013 Canada National Hockey Card Day
When: Saturday February 9, 2013
What: Free 5 Card Upper Deck Pack
Canada Only! Participating Certified Diamond Dealers Only!
  
  • 1 Jaden Schwartz - Canada RC
  • 2 Tyson Barrie - Canada RC
  • 3 Carter Ashton - Canada RC
  • 4 Mark Stone - Canada RC
  • 5 Casey Cizikas - Canada RC
  • 6 Sidney Crosby - Pride of Canada
  • 7 Jarome Iginla - Pride of Canada
  • 8 Jordan Eberle - Pride of Canada
  • 9 John Tavares - Pride of Canada
  • 10 Martin Brodeur - Pride of Canada
  • 11 Bobby Orr - Hockey Heroes
  • 12 Joe Sakic - Hockey Heroes
  • 13 Eric Lindros - Hockey Heroes
  • 14 Mario Lemieux - Hockey Heroes
  • 15 Wayne Gretzky - Hockey Heroes
  • 16 Wayne Gretzky/Mario Lemieux - Memorable Moments*
2012 Upper Deck National Hockey Card Day

*The Gretzky/Lemieux #16 card is free with purchase at the shop.


 

Despite the ongoing NHL Lockout, Upper Deck will sponsor and promote a 2013 National Hockey Card Day. These packs will be available at Certified Diamond Dealer Hobby Stores in Canada. Packs will not be available at mainstream retail stores, only sports card specific hobby shops. You can walk into any of the shops and get one free pack. If you make a purchase you get card #16 Wayne Gretzky/Mario Lemieux.

The 2013 cards will feature the players in Team Canada uniforms and not the NHL gear (because of the lockout).  Select packs will have autographs randomly inserted. Each pack has 5 cards.

Dealers can get bundles of 100 packs from their local distributor. The packs are not meant to be sold and are to be given away. Only Upper Deck Certified Diamond Dealers in Canada are eligible for the promotion.  You can browse a few of the Canadian diamond dealers on the Upper Deck website.
 
   
It all began when brothers Benito and Giuseppe Panini were in Italy running a newspaper distribution business and in 1960 bought a bunch of soccer player stickers (called figurines) from someone in Italy who couldn't find a way to sell them. The brothers re-packaged them and in one year sold 3 million packs and a business was born. In 1961 15 million packs were sold. In 1962 29 million were sold. Today, old soccer stickers from that era are treasured and valued like vintage baseball cards.
The Panini Group has expanded in the 50 years plus since into other areas, but stickers still remain a huge driver for the business. Overall, the collectibles part of Panini's business provides the largest revenue stream. In 2009 they reported total revenues of $1 billion, mostly from business done in Europe. By comparison, Topps at it's peak could get to about half of that number. The $1 billion number is revenue, not profit. Private companies typically never disclose how much they actually make in profit. Some of the Panini Group's businesses are high margin, low/no competition so you can imagine they make a decent chunk.

Panini is a massive company and only a small percentage of their bankroll is tied up into the production of American sports cards
. But it doesn't take much money to wipe out competitors Upper Deck and Topps in the U.S. space. It started in 2009 when Panini entered the U.S. market and flexed it's muscle. Upper Deck and Topps were making NBA basketball cards in 2008-09 and were in the running to have their licenses renewed by the NBA. But Panini is a billion dollar business and swooped in to land an exclusive. You can believe it all came down to money. Topps is a conservative spending company and they were looking to reduce their licenses even if it meant losing a segment of the American market. Upper Deck was just beginning to go through some legal and financial trouble but they didn't have as much cash to blow as Panini did anyways. Upper Deck is a private company but did disclose at it's peak they were a $200 million a year business. Not bad but a far cry from the $1 billion Panini can rake in. The fact that Panini has a strong overseas brand name probably didn't hurt in landing the NBA deal either. Globally, the NBA might be the most popular sport in the world behind Soccer. And while it's hard for people in the United States to grasp, worldwide, Panini is a bigger brand and has more resources then either stateside card competitors Topps and Upper Deck.

Panini entered the NHL market in 2010 and produces licensed hockey cards along with Upper Deck. In 2011 Panini obtained a Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) license.  Not to be confused with Topps' exclusive MLBP (Properties) license. Topps can show images of players in uniform, include team names & logos on cards, etc - Panini cannot. There have been rumblings that Panini may get a Properties license..... perhaps soon. The MLB baseball card market is the largest in the United States when compared to the NBA and NFL, despite the latter two being more popular with fans as a sport and on television.  If Panini was flashing cash to the NBA, NFL, and NHL you can bet they will try and get in front of MLB Properties decision makers and try and write a big check. It's up to the MLBP if Panini will ever be able to produce licensed MLB cards that are so popular in the U.S. market.

If true that Panini can generate revenues in the $1 billion annually from some of the businesses listed below, then money spent in the U.S. sports card market is a drop in the bucket for the company. In fact, there is probably a long term plan in place where the Panini Group doesn't expect to see a huge return on American sports cards. Meaning they are willing to shell out cash to obtain licenses and grow their presence in the U.S. without worrying about the bottom line of the balance sheet.

It may very well be that Panini doesn't "make money" on their NBA, NHL or NFL cards. But Panini's goal is most certainly long term profits and not a short term money grab. Panini's main sources of revenue happen outside the United States. Prior to 2009 collectors of sports cards may have been unfamiliar with Panini, but you can see why they have been able to win licensing battles against the weaker U.S. sports card players. Panini has resources that Topps and Upper Deck don't and that can woo any licensing exec with the leagues. For many years U.S. card companies had been going broke and now a knight from Italy shows up with checkbook in hand! The tone was set when the NBA kicked Topps and Upper Deck out, when both expressed interest in continuing making basketball cards. In just three short years Panini is now considered the second largest producer of sports cards.  That's how weak the market was when Panini came to the U.S. and expect them to continue to take market share in the category.

How Panini Rakes in $1 Billion Worldwide:

Stickers
The company has built it's brand around the globe thanks in large part due to their massive production of collectible stickers. Panini dominates this niche by obtaining licenses and marketing the stickers usually to a younger audience. They've produced stickers for just about everything under the sun. Including popular kids movies Cars, Brave, Ice Age and Spider-Man.

Their sports stickers might be familiar to American card collectors. In recent years they have produced sticker collections for NBA, NFL, NHL, various soccer versions including FIFA World Cup, UEFA, Manchester United and more. According to Panini Group, collectibles and specifically stickers have provided the company an opportunity to grow. This is probably a high margin business. It doesn't cost very much to produce the stickers Panini makes.

Trading Cards
A focus for American collectors, but this is just a small subset of the Panini's overall business.  In 2009 the Panini Group decided to take their piles of cash and enter the United States market. USA collectors recognize the Panini Group subsidy Panini America as the face of the state side card company. Panini blew competitors Upper Deck and Topps out of the NBA basketball card market to land their first US sports license. But the big acquisition to help aide in establishing operations in the U.S. was the purchase of Donruss Playoff in March 2009. Donruss was a well known U.S. sports card brand that had successful titles including Elite, Contenders, Certified, Threads, National Treasures and more. Panini immediately took over the NFL license that Donruss had. The sale of Donruss came at a needed time for both companies. Donruss had lost it's MLB license in 2006, severely reducing it's revenue potential and Panini needed a brand, and talent (employees) who understood the U.S. sports card market. Panini also took talent from rival card company Upper Deck. Several employees left California based U.D. when they were going through legal and financial troubles.  

Panini has entered the U.S. market and spent money. They spend more to market their products then competitors Upper Deck and Topps. At key trade shows like the NSCC and the Las Vegas Industry Summit the corporate booth Panini has usually doubles the size of Topps & Upper Deck (Topps recently has not had a corporate booth at the Vegas Summit). Topps is an established American brand that was purchased off the open stock market in 2007 by Madison Dearborn Partners and Tornante. Since the sale it appears Dearborn and Tornante were seeking to capitalize off the $30 million in estimated profits that come out of the business annually. Topps does not have to market it's products very much because of it's iconic brand status and they have no reason to innovate a space they have dominated since the 1950's in the United States. Upper Deck is considered an industry innovator since it was founded in 1989, but they have fallen on hard times and were hurt the most by the economic downturn in the U.S. that started in 2008.  Upper Deck can no longer market their products like in years past and have lost out on some key U.S. sports licenses (NBA, MLB, NFL).

Distribution Business
Panini does big business in Europe. So they have a distribution center where they can get product into 500,000 stores in Europe within 72 hours. They not only distribute their own collectible products through this channel but they will distribute other companies books, comics, pre-paid phone cards, toys, soccer merchandise and many other items through this channel. This means money in the bank for Panini. They run popular online soccer merchandise store "FootCenter" through this channel. Panini also has a distribution center in Italy, dubbed PAN, where essentially the same business goes on. Panini is able to get their products into the hands of customers very easily because they own their own distribution network. They also can earn revenue by distributing other companies products. Sounds like a great business if they can dial in their operating costs.

Panini Digital
This is software that analyzes the movements a player will make during a soccer match. This data is then sold and used by soccer teams, media groups, video game companies and other interested parties. Much like statistical information in Baseball, having advanced metrics to determine the value of a player is key in a sport like soccer when there is not much scoring or other simple statistics being recorded.

Publishing
Behind collectibles, this is the Panini Group's biggest business. It's also it's fastest growing. Over 4,000 comics, magazines and books are published each year by Panini. They publish primarily publications related to kids and their interests, establishing Panini as one of the leading publishers of youth oriented products in Europe. Huge revenue stream. Buying a popular Marvel, DC, or Vertigo comic in Europe? It probably came through their publishing and distribution network. This business pumps huge money into Panini's bank accounts.

The Future of Panini Group
Things appear to be going well. They have a strong footprint in Europe and other parts of the world. This isn't a sports card business. That's just a small piece of the pie. But they have cash other U.S. sports card competitors don't. Panini will easily be able to win over leagues that hold the key to licensing with their balance sheets that show a killer worldwide operation of businesses. Panini won't innovate the sports card world like Upper Deck did in 1989.  But their presence is much needed to help stabilize an industry that has seen countless companies big and small go broke.

It takes a lot of money to enter the U.S. sports card market. Licensing with the big pro sports leagues doesn't come cheap and they like to see you have a multi-million dollar bank account....... even after you cut that check to them. Panini is a dominant player in the licensing game. Some recent licensing deals include: Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, and Disney.  Those don't come cheap. The fact that Panini is not reliant on sports cards to make or break their budget is a collector's dream. Even if you don't enjoy their products, I'd advise being patient and give them a chance. At any moment, these Italian billionaires could just go back home, milk Europe, milk South America, milk the portions of their business that have unlocked unspeakable amount of riches for them over the years. They don't need American sports cards to make money. It's literally a drop in the bucket for them.

Here is a question. What is your favorite sports team? What would you rather have, the owner of that team to have so much money that he will spend whatever it takes to try and win? Or an owner who looks for loose change under seats after games?  We know the answer. Panini may not be on the same spending level as Mark Cuban or Jerry Buss, but they have the biggest wallet in the sports card game at the moment. Dearborn and Tornante's Topps have a huge collective wallet as well, but just don't have any reason to spend it to grow their sports card business. In fact, Topps has failed and lost millions when trying to innovate and grow the business. Dearborn is a leading private equity firm and has ownership stakes in dozens of companies but they are not related to sports or even collectibles (Metro PCS for example). Panini has reason to spend cash though. Panini has reason to try and grow their business. They are just breaking into the U.S. sports card market and want to make it a lasting business. It will take many years to see if that will happen.

Leading up to the 2013 Las Vegas Industry Summit. I will chronicle Topps, Upper Deck's and Panini's business. Look for future installments soon. Send comments here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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