1. You Down With MDP?
Think sports card message boards are full of angry old men? Visit a Yahoo Finance forum and it will make card collectors look like Kum-Ba-Yah nation. Business is a cut throat thing. Employees are merely “head count”. When a Dearborn big wig is ripping a drive on the famous Pebble Beach golf course, the last thing on his mind are the cards you got out of your box of 2013 Five Star Baseball.
2. Helpless Employees
3. Made To Order Products
It also speaks to a larger issue. You, the collector, are not Topps’ customer. The wholesale distributor is who Topps cares about most. Topps sells the product to the distributor, then they move onto the next product in the cycle. Your redemption cards or customer service issues are a secondary concern.
4. The Brand has Value
The MLB typically likes to deal with American companies. Topps and the MLB have had a long history. Don’t look for anyone besides Topps to make licensed baseball cards anytime soon, even after their current deal runs out.
5. Why I Bash On Topps
Topps as a company is in a tough spot. It’s almost like rooting for a sports team that has bad ownership. You don’t really know what to do. Many people rely on Topps products to earn a living. I know what it is like to struggle running a sports card business. The margin is slim, the help is none, and the hours can be long. Failing at my sports card store during 2006-2008 was one of the worst times of my life. I worry some are in the same spot I was in. That is probably one reason why, at times, I speak out in a negative way about Topps.
In combination with my brother Colin, we help sell current Topps products in a way. The sports card websites we work on have gotten several million views over the years. Over a half million people will visit Sports Card Radio during the year, in most part to find out information on sets. It was all by accident. After we went broke running a card store in 2008, Colin started a sports card podcast on a whim. Collectors started to email my brother about his show. They were so positive and urged him to keep going.
You can make decent money if you have a website getting thousands of visitors each day. Probably a little more than you think, even a site about baseball cards. I can pay my bills. I couldn’t do that running a card store. If those collectors in the early days didn’t email my brother and encourage him to keep working on the shows and the site, I’d probably be hiring nurses for a living.
In late 2012 we started to get several emails a week about customer service issues at Topps. Many collectors were having problems with old redemptions they were waiting on.
Colin and I can be overtly negative toward Topps. What? Are we going to continue promoting Topps sets without saying anything? C’Mon. It doesn’t sit well with us to make money on the backs of collectors, then turn our backs when they are having issues. If it wasn’t for card collectors I’d be getting up at 7 a.m. to go work somewhere tomorrow. If they are having problems with Topps, then I am willing to complain and be a class A jerk. That’s something I don’t see changing.
6. What Can You Do?
Keep in mind that Topps is in the business to make money. That is their utmost concern. They have been able to limit licensing in key sports to unlock a margin to operate. Current management at Topps have no concern about your collection or if you get value from buying a box.
Collectors come at this hobby from so many different angles. Some like single cards, some like new stuff, some like old stuff, some buy packs, some buy boxes, some do group breaks, some don’t buy online. It’s easy to feel burned when buying cards. They can be expensive and the values can drop off the table quick. Hopefully you can find niches within the hobby that peak your interest. I don’t have a magic wand to wave. If you’ve been collecting cards for a long time, there is probably something still in it for you to explore.
My name is Ryan. Email me if you are waiting on a redemption card from Topps. firstname.lastname@example.org