Grab bag anyone? In-Store promotions to help your trading card hobby shop

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March 24, 2012 by danolaurel

When I was in elementary school I started my own card shop out of my garage.  I convinced my dad to get some poster board and markers so I could make the signs.  Then I found some hangers to tape them to so I could stick them in the ground.  I spent three nights preparing for my grand opening and was amazed how amazing everything looked.

One of the things I decided to do was put a bunch of random cards in brown lunch bags with pieces of paper that had different cards and prizes you could win. I saw this at a card show I had recently gone to and convinced my mom to shell out $20 dollars for four-five dollar grab bags. It worked on me so I decided to add it to my shop.  When I opened, no one bought anything I had except for the grab bags.  The ‘grand-prize’ was a Starting Lineups Don Mattingly figure that I had been holding onto.  After that item was pulled I had nothing else left.  My first card-shop closed soon after.  Ha.

You’ve gone to all the trouble to get customers in the store by creating websites, tweeting, advertising, but people aren’t spending any money while they’re in there. Remember conversion?  What is causing them to leave empty-handed?  Are you creating an inviting environment for your customers to be in?

In-store promoting isn’t just about grab-bags and giveaways. It is also about creating a community of collectors who WANT to go to your shop. A place where like-minded people can go to share ideas with others and talk about things they enjoy in the hobby.

Here are some promotional ideas that I’ve seen over the years that have worked on me and can maybe work for your client base:  Report card discounts, Grab bags, Membership discounts, Box break pizza parties and gifts with purchase.

A few years after my failed garage card shop my mother discovered a card shop that gave out discounts for A’s on your reports cards, so after every 6-week period I would get to go to the card shop and pick out a couple packs of cards.  I did a lot better in school and I got to reward myself for working hard.  It wasn’t a huge discount, but I always want to go there because of that offer.

That coincides with membership discounts.  Austin Sports Connection offers a per-year membership plan that allows you a discount on items throughout the store.  If that was my store of choice I would definitely sign up for that deal. You build loyalty with membership plans such as this to ensure repeat customers.

My wholesale distributor offers incentives for hosting pizza parties to promote new releases on trading-card games.  As far as I know this isn’t an option for sports cards, but you can take it upon yourself to do something along the lines of this.  Box break events are a great way to get a group of people together to rip open some packs and have a great time checking out the new product. If you deal with Panini, Upper Deck and Topps directly ask them if they do something along those lines.  Also check with your distributor.

Finally, gifts with purchase are ideal to separate your experience from someone buying something online.  My card shop, Kenny’s Collectibles of Austin, has small boxes if you need them, or sleeves and top loaders to put your cards in if you pull something you want to protect for the drive home.  You won’t believe how many times I’ve opened a pack and gotten something nice and didn’t have something to put it in without buying a whole package of extra supplies.  I’m not saying you need to give away the farm, but if someone buys a box from you is a pack of sleeves or some pages gonna kill your bottom line? Probably not.

This all coincides with how you arrange your store and how you’re getting people into your shop.

One last thing; how are you letting your customers know what and when you’re getting new product?  Setting up an email list is one of the most basic ways you can communicate with your customers and start creating a clientele list.  You will learn what your customers are looking for by asking for their input and you’ll be able to send out viable information to them as well.

The last part of this series will focus on things you need to do on your own and how the manufacturers need to start working to help you more as well.  Stay tuned. Thanks for reading!

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