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dodgerblue38501
I just wanted to share the latest photos of my shop. For those that may not know, I have had a sports card shop inside a large Mini Mall/Flea Market since 2002. I started with one 10'x12' booth and now have a space 24'x20' right at the Mall's North Entrance. Business has grown and grown over the years.........until this year. The 1st quarter was fine. The 2nd quarter sales dropped 44%. The third quarter sales dropped again by 40%. The 4th quarter is also off to a slow start. I drive an hour one way just to get to my shop because I moved to Nashville back in June. I was recently laid off from my job and now the future of my shop is in doubt. It really makes me angry and sad that I may have to close down and move everything home until I can find a suitable location in Nashville to re-open. With very little sales revenue coming in to reinvest in the shop, I am stuck in a position that I cannot continue to do the things necessary to grow the business. I almost feel like I have achieved all I can at that location. I have forced a square peg into a round hole and made it work. The type of people that frequent that establish are not really my core demographic of customers. They are largely unemployed, uneducated, non-sports fans. I have managed to build a solid customer base of regulars but that base has started to erode this year with many folks in the area being out of jobs and cutting back on their spending. I have a great inventory and great business model except that my location is terrible! I know that I could do much more business in the Nashville area. I just can't seem to find the right set up to do what I want to do. I am still looking and plan to remain open at my current location at least through the end of the year. This is just very frustrating! I have spent so much time and money developing this thing that has been successful but the bad economy has really taken a toll. Hopefully when my website is finally finished that will help but I still want to have some semblance of an actual store front that customers can visit. I would welcome any ideas and suggestions. What are some of the more creative card shops you have visited over the years? I am a man of the people and I want to listen to ideas to help me evolve and weather the tough times. smile.gif

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vslyke
Nice shop. I wish I could visit, the hobby shops down here are terrible. Good luck with the shop, and who signed the Titans helmets?
Stlouisrams1600
Looks like an awesome shop!
dodgerblue38501
QUOTE(vslyke @ Dec 2 2008, 06:53 PM)
Nice shop. I wish I could visit, the hobby shops down here are terrible. Good luck with the shop, and who signed the Titans helmets?
*



Thanks! The Titans helmets are signed by Vince Young and LenDale White.
michiganmaniac94
Very nice shop!! the website should help your sales
dodgerblue38501
QUOTE(michiganmaniac94 @ Dec 2 2008, 07:28 PM)
Very nice shop!! the website should help your sales
*



Man I hope so. This thing seems like it has taken forever to get together. I am working on some advertising now to promote my site on other sites that sports fans/card collectors may visit.
gregtn64
advertise on craigslist.org and list some of your cards to sell check out under collectibles can find some good deals on there at times.
dooly
very nice shop, i wish we had something like that here in kingston, canada... i cant even find a hobby shop! Even when I go to Toronto, most of the shops are overpriced and tiny
chopinalex
you probably dont want to hear this but here is my opinion.

In 15 years I have noticed that the more organized and pleasant the set up is at a card shop the higher the prices..your store looks pretty clean and organized! ohmy.gif
dodgerblue38501
QUOTE(chopinalex @ Dec 2 2008, 10:19 PM)
you probably dont want to hear this but here is my opinion.

In 15 years I have noticed that the more organized and pleasant the set up is at a card shop the higher the prices..your store looks pretty clean and organized! ohmy.gif
*



That's a good point. I hadn't ever really thought about it but you are right. Except all my singles are 25%-75% off BV, my packs are almost 1/2 the price of the other shop in town, and my autographs are well below any stores or shops I have ever seen. Plus, I take care of the tax!
msuwendy
Really like the look of your shop Chad....sure beats anything we can find in my part of the world!

Hope that things work out....and if you do eventually move, that you'll be able to find the perfect location!
kooljazz1966
QUOTE(dodgerblue38501 @ Dec 1 2008, 09:43 AM)
I have forced a square peg into a round hole and made it work. The type of people that frequent that establish are not really my core demographic of customers. They are largely unemployed, uneducated, non-sports fans. I have managed to build a solid customer base of regulars but that base has started to erode this year with many folks in the area being out of jobs and cutting back on their spending. [/url]
*


First I have always been forthright and candid with folks; So, based on my observation of the expertise you seek, you may want to seek professional assistance. The only thing you will get here is biased opinions based on one's own values and experiences which may or may not be a good fit for your situation. Now on a personal note, I believe everyone should be afforded the opportunity to succeed or fail based on choices they make. That being said, you may want to get in touch with your largely unemployed, uneducated, non-sports fans. They are the ones on the front lines in that community you have set up shop in and likely can give you insight more than you ever could imagine. I have always found it quite remarkable how an uneducated dollar spends just as easily as an educated dollar or greenback. unsure.gif . At the end of the day, I believe it's more about the profit margin for business and less about demographics. Don't make excuses for your predicament, get busy living or get busy dying.
dodgerblue38501
QUOTE(kooljazz1966 @ Dec 3 2008, 12:40 AM)

you may want to get in touch with your largely unemployed, uneducated, non-sports fans. They are the ones on the front lines in that community you have set up shop in and likely can give you insight more than you ever could imagine.  I have always found it quite remarkable how an uneducated dollar spends just as easily as an educated dollar or greenback. 

*



I agree. I am already working on a couple of things that may appeal to the walk ins and non collectors. I talked with another dealer who sets up at a flea market about 40 miles away. He runs a dice game at $1 per roll. He takes in a couple hundred dollars per weekend this way. I'm thinking about trying it. I haven't had one in years since I did the show circuit in the early 90s. I think I can entice some of the patrons to take a chance on a roll for $1. Maybe I can appeal to their inner gambler. This crowd is the type that would spend their last $1 on a lottery ticket. Now that gas has dropped in price to less than half of what it was a few months ago, hopefully folks will start spending again. I've already seen a few new faces that are making holiday purchases. This is always a big time of year for me to sell McFarlane figures and autographed memorabilia. I'm also going to cut my rookie card cases down from 3 to 2 and use that 3rd case to do a Titans display. I have a monster box of Titans cards sorted by player but most folks are too lazy to look through it. The ones that do can't grasp the concept of alphabetizing so they can't ever locate who they are looking for. Maybe if I spread the cards out in a display case it will boost sales. I'm not selling near as many Titans cards as I should be with the season they are having. I've learned that local/home teams appeal to non collectors who might be casual sports fans. Hopefully these things will help out a little over the next few weeks.
mo2116
i wish i had a shop in my town closest is about an hr and halfaway iam stuck ordering boxes online or at target cmb for trades
metsfan2427
nice shop. wise we had something as nice and had singles that cheap up here
kooljazz1966
QUOTE(dodgerblue38501 @ Dec 3 2008, 01:17 AM)
I agree. I am already working on a couple of things that may appeal to the walk ins and non collectors. I talked with another dealer who sets up at a flea market about 40 miles away. He runs a dice game at $1 per roll. He takes in a couple hundred dollars per weekend this way. I'm thinking about trying it. I haven't had one in years since I did the show circuit in the early 90s. I think I can entice some of the patrons to take a chance on a roll for $1. Maybe I can appeal to their inner gambler. This crowd is the type that would spend their last $1 on a lottery ticket.
*


I believe Flea Markets across the country are gonna have a great 2009 as we continue through this Recession. I'm gonna start setting up at the flea market myself. Worse case I make table/booth money and a couple of hundred to boot. Another option I failed to mentioned to you is that you can lease out a few of your cases at the shop for your collectors to pimp their wares. I also believe this is the time to bring back in store bid boards.

-kjazzzzzzzz
THUNDER9
TRY HOSTING A "TRADE NIGHT" AMONG YOUR REGULARS - THROW IN SOME DOOR PRIZES AND MAYBE SOME "PACK WARS".
beanschat
I think your shop looks fine. It looks temporary with the punchboard displays, but in the setting that you are in, I assume that is the norm. I like the fact that you have stuff priced and stickered, especially if you feel most of the people are uneducated.

I don't like the idea of the "gambling". Most of the people that I have seen doing that appear "seedy" and I think you want to develop more of a reputation to encourage repeat buyers.

I do like the Craigs list idea...even if it is just to advertise. If you have a ton of Titans cards, I would list "Christmas deals" on there for the people who are uneducated where to go to get their kids cards. I would even consider putting a GU in every pack...that should excite alot of the kids, and then guess where the parents go next time!

Online sales..don't get too excited and don't spend too much on online advertising...show of hands here...who has visited Sportslots? After answering, check the top of the page!

One shop here in town runs an auction board...customers can put up their cards and other customers can bid on them...all auctions end in one week..that means buyers and sellers are in every week. Start the board off with some of your own cards as people will be hesitant until they see some results.

Reach out to those missing customers...if you know their address send them a card, with 25% off of something.

Run a wish list...customers can come in and fill out a card keep a copy, give it out for Christmas with where to get it and hopefully you can get a few sales off of that. I'll see if I can come up with some more ideas...
dodgerblue38501
Once I institute the changes I mentioned above I plan on doing a more aggressive advertising campaign to pull in some regulars from the other shop in town. My goal is to take some more of his sports card buyers. He can have the MTG buyers as I only deal in sports right now. He has a loyal group of high end pack buyers ($50/pack or more). I am going to try to stock at least one product from each sport in that group in 2009 if I can stay open that long). I want to make my shop a "must visit" destination every weekend for the local collectors. I just have to get them past the stigma of the Flea Market. They just don't seem to want to make that 10 minute drive from the other shop to visit me. I have even thought of holding a card show there. You can get a 12x10 booth for $28 per weekend which is better than one table at a regular show.
www.toppsheritage.com
Hey Beanschat...good to see there is another Royals fan out there!

As for the shop, try to collect email addresses both at your shop and on your website. In the store, if people are not signing their email addresses, then offer some type of small free gift or contest. Then type up a weekly newsletter/sales sheet with a few short paragraphs about hobby news and list some weekly specials. Once you get used to creating the newsletters, it should just take 10-20 minutes a week and once you get a few hundred email addresses, it can really start to pay off. Another idea is to create a frequent shopper card, and each time they come into your store and spend a certain amount, say $10, they get a stamp or a punch on their card. Once they get 10 stamps/punches then they get a free pack of cards or some other gift. Good luck!
dodgerblue38501
Good ideas guys! I like much of what you have said. I have a list of things like this to try when I move to a brick and mortar retail store. I have tried newsletters, free giveaways, and other things you mentioned. I had sheets for collectors to fill out with e-mail address, mailing address, favorite sports/teams/players so that I could send them a birthday card or keep an eye out for things they might collect. Nothing seems to work. They won't even put pen to paper and fill out a short form like that. Most of the time when they come in, I greet them with a smile and say something like, "Hello. How are you today?". Sometimes I even throw in, "Let me know if I can help you find anything." I usually don't get past a hello because that scares them away. They are afraid to even speak! Your ideas would be golden if I were dealing with knowledgeable collectors. Most of the traffic through this place is casual sports fans or non fans. I see a lot of folks that talk about all the good cards they "used" to have. I also see a lot of folks that say "cards aren't worth anything anymore" since their 80s and 90s collections have hit rock bottom. Lots of ex collectors that have not followed sports or the collectibles industry in 15 years or more. They stare blankly into my display cases and have no idea what they are looking at. I even printed little signs that I placed on the GU and graded card cases to explain what a memorabilia card or a graded card is. I believe in being organized and clearly labeling everything with prices, discounts, etc. I had a marketing professor in college that told me that you need to always do everything to make your retail displays, "idiot proof, meaning that your retail displays are neat, organized, labeled, and looking right. I turn down boxes of early 90s commons every weekend that someone wants to "make me a good deal on". I can count the true collectors on both hands that regularly visit. I don't want to only cater to them, I want everyone's money! laugh.gif That is why I'm trying to find ways to reach out to the other folks. I don't like the gambling aspect of a dice game either but this whole industry is based around gambling now and getting big hits with big eBay value from packs. I am really going to focus on pulling in the true collectors that visit the other shop in town. Keep those ideas coming.....
Yogurtmania
One thing I would do from reading this is stop covering the tax. I'm sure you probably know how much that adds up to be over the year. It will probably tick off your regular customers, but I am sure they would understand if you explained to them why.

Another thing that I would do just until the economy picks up is have a huge sale on some of those older products from 2006 or so if you have any. That stuff has been sitting in the shop now for 2 years, so any money that you make on it is better than nothing. You have pretty much already taken a hit on that stuff, so if you can recover 60-70 percent of what you spent on it, it's just like making a profit now. Does that make sense? Once the economy picks up, you can stop doing that.

By the way, the shop looks well organized. That is one of my biggest turn-offs to a cardshop is clutter and dim-lighting. Looks like you got those two taking care of. Thanks for sharing the pics and good luck with your business.

Hopefully those two ideas help you out a little.
chopinalex
QUOTE(kooljazz1966 @ Dec 3 2008, 12:40 AM)
First I have always been forthright and candid with folks; So,  based on my observation of the expertise you seek, you may want to seek professional assistance.  The only thing you will get here is biased opinions based on one's own values and experiences which may or may not be a good fit for your situation. Now on a personal note, I believe everyone should be afforded the opportunity to succeed or fail based on choices they make.  That being said, you may want to get in touch with your largely unemployed, uneducated, non-sports fans. They are the ones on the front lines in that community you have set up shop in and likely can give you insight more than you ever could imagine.  I have always found it quite remarkable how an uneducated dollar spends just as easily as an educated dollar or greenback.  unsure.gif . At the end of the day, I believe it's more about the profit margin for business and less about demographics.  Don't make excuses for your predicament, get busy living or get busy dying.
*



someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed!
chopinalex
QUOTE(kooljazz1966 @ Dec 3 2008, 10:20 AM)
I believe Flea Markets across the country are gonna have a great 2009 as we continue through this Recession. I'm gonna start setting up at the flea market myself. Worse case I make table/booth money and a couple of hundred to boot. Another option I failed to mentioned to you is that you can lease out a few of your cases at the shop for your collectors to pimp their wares. I also believe this is the time to bring back in store bid boards.

-kjazzzzzzzz
*



why are you going to setup at flea market? to sell your cards or other items? I dont think that is a good idea at this time..i would stick to card shows..customers come to you for cards..at flea market you are attempting to go to a few customers
dodgerblue38501
QUOTE(chopinalex @ Dec 3 2008, 06:17 PM)
why are you going to setup at flea market? to sell your cards or other items? I dont think that is a good idea at this time..i would stick to card shows..customers come to you for cards..at flea market you are attempting to go to a few customers
*



Very well said. I've hit that point where I am struggling to get the customers to come to me.
aceecards
Brother,

Being a Hobby shop visitor Ill offer some insight

Clean and Organized ! I love it!

1.Contact UD , Topps and Donruss to offer a Preview Night for a big Product release! Think Like Topps Rip Party.. you'd be surprised how easy and willing they are!

2.Bid Boards. I loved those things especially during insert Nineties!

3. For set Builders offer a "trade night" Thats well advertised for your regulars to bring their base sets and dupes in! Offer One price base set "filling service" no matter how many base they need from you!
BTW if you need base send a hertz truck up and Ill sell you a million or so cards at $50 a tub! laugh.gif

4. Consignments make you a groovy 10%!!

5. Ebay listing service . My friend Vince made a fortune doing that! Ask Shawn for tips!

6. Raffle ticket for every purchase for a weekly raffle draws back regulars every week to see if they win!!

7. I was never a fan of Pack wars have to ask someone else about those!

8. In store signings by local sports personalities! contact Titans, Preds.. whomever! Even minor leagues and colleges!

9. Remember IN STORE ADVERTISING IS ONLY SEEN BY THOSE THAT COME IN!

10. Be "OPEN" When your posted hours say so.. nothing makes me madder than a "gone to lunch sign will return???"




dodgerblue38501
QUOTE(Yogurtmania @ Dec 3 2008, 04:33 PM)
One thing I would do from reading this is stop covering the tax. I'm sure you probably know how much that adds up to be over the year. It will probably tick off your regular customers, but I am sure they would understand if you explained to them why.

Another thing that I would do just until the economy picks up is have a huge sale on some of those older products from 2006 or so if you have any. That stuff has been sitting in the shop now for 2 years, so any money that you make on it is better than nothing. You have pretty much already taken a hit on that stuff, so if you can recover 60-70 percent of what you spent on it, it's just like making a profit now. Does that make sense? Once the economy picks up, you can stop doing that.

By the way, the shop looks well organized. That is one of my biggest turn-offs to a cardshop is clutter and dim-lighting. Looks like you got those two taking care of. Thanks for sharing the pics and good luck with your business.

Hopefully those two ideas help you out a little.
*



That was poor wording on my part. What I should have said is that tax is included so the sticker price is all you pay. That just makes it easier on everyone in the setting that I am in.

As for moving older boxes of unopened material, I don't have any to move. I have tried to operate on a just in time inventory system and only order enough boxes for each weekend so I am not left with any stale inventory. This has allowed me to carry more products but not much of each product as I usually only order two to three boxes of each product at a time. For some lower end products, I only order one box at a time. The interesting thing is that very few customers over the years have ask me about buying a full box. They all seem to prefer to buy a few packs of this and a few packs of that because they each think they can somehow be the lucky one to get every hit out of every box. In the end they could have just purchased a sealed box at a cheaper price than all those packs cost and would have gotten all the hits from that box. I think its funny when I offer someone a deal on a box and they pass it up and spend $100 on packs and end up with a common white swatch GU.
www.fpcards.com
Hello brother in brick and mortar!
I call tell you we have had to work twice as hard to keep things going well these last few months. I have staff taking boxes of cards home and working until 1 in the morning getting them on our website.
There are no easy answers but advertising is a key
You live in Nashville? Contact the Preds, Vandy and maybe even the Titans and see if you can sponsor a giveaway. We have deals with several minor league hockey teams where we give away 25 cards to the first 1000 people (since we buy 5000 count boxes all day at $8-$10 the promotion costs us $50 + $8 for the team bags and $20 for the flyers we put in with them) In exchange along with the advertising to those 1000 people we are allowed to set up a table on the concorse and sell.
If you do that you will find good use for those 1990's boxes.
As far as in store, stick to your organization strategies and pricing. If the customers come in and say " I can get this cheaper on Ebay" don't feel bullied into lowering yours. Believe me the first time they get burned by someone not sending, sending a damaged or fake card or any other number of things that can go wrong when you buy from some kid sitting in his parents basement, they will gladly come back to you since you offer a safe and reputable sales experience.
Might I suggest you also carry a small inventory of coins. We carry coins and stamps and find that in times where the card business is slow, they provide a nice hedge.
Lastly your internet presence is key. A well stocked and well promoted web store will bring your product all over the world.
Those Press pass football and basketball autographs of guys who never made it to the NBA or NFL will find their way into the hands of the CFL or Arena football teams or European basketball team fans.
Other than that, don't lose touch with your customer base. Most of the dealers in my area had no real passion for collecting. I'll always remember hearing a couple of them tell me they NEVER collected and one who told me that you can't be a real dealer and still collect. Myself and my Blue Jays collection beg to differ lol.
Last but not least, I promise you, if you weather this storm when many of our fellow dealers are packing up their stores and liquidating, your business will be better than ever when the economy turns around.
busyb85
Your shop looks very nice!! Hopefully I can make a trip over.
dodgerblue38501
I'm starting to feel better after reading some of these great suggestions. I know I can make use of them when I do make my next move into a full time retail shop. Let's not forget that my current set up is a little.....unique....shall we say. I have basically tried to establish a small retail shop inside of a large flea market. I run my shop as if it were a retail business. When you walk through the entrance into my space, you are in my store in my mind. That is how I look at it. I have always tried to remain professional regardless of the surroundings. I am only open on Saturday and Sunday as that is the only days that the facility is open. I am also now living in Nashville. My shop in in Cookeville about an hour east. As I have mentioned already, being in that setting is not ideal. As someone mentioned earlier, it is much different that having a stand alone retail store. These are the factors that are causing me the most problems right now. I have had much success over the last 6 years but this year has been a steady decline since the first quarter.
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