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 (Toll Free)

Online giant Blowout Cards opens a shop

By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Sometimes it pays to go against the grain — and Blowout Cards is trying just that.

While countless hobby shops have closed their doors in recent years to focus on selling inventory online, one of the industry’s leading online sellers is doing the exact opposite.

Blowout is opening a card shop.

Beckett Media caught up with Blowout’s Thomas Fish to talk about the company’s new shop in Chantilly, Va., which recently opened with a soft launch in advance of a March 1 grand opening.

Q: You’ve been around as Blowout for years now, what has prompted your move toward having a retail storefront?
Over the years, as the Blowout Cards customer-base and online community has grown, so have the requests from our local customers to be able to pick up their online orders.  The Maryland-D.C.-Virginia area is saturated with so many hardcore card collectors and many were clamoring for us to open a retail store.  Fans of our online store wanted to buy from our vast selection of boxes and cases, but were really asking to be able to shop from us at a physical location. When we received such overwhelming requests, it was something that our team could not ignore and here we are today.

Q: Do you feel that having a store in conjunction with a strong online presence is beneficial – and also good for the hobby?
As many of our customers already know, nobody does promotions like the Blowout Cards Team. [Editor's note: See their gold bar giveaway here.] We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of the social networking and online-community trends that are taking over the hobby. Our team is always looking for new ways to invigorate and capture the attention of the Blowout Cards Forum Community and the entire hobby as a whole.  We have some very creative minds here on our team and, in the past, we’ve felt limited in the sense that we had to run all of our promotions online through our forums.  With the opening of The Fantastic Store, we will now be able to engage our online community and also the entire hobby through the airing of live, in-store promotions that will broadcast over the Internet.  Blowout Cards will be coming to your living room live and in HD.

Q: We often hear about the challenges of owning a shop. Are you starting to see some of them? Do you have ways to combat them that might help others?
Owning any business is challenging and this is true whether you are running a small mom-and-pop shop or a large, online presence.  Our core principles here have always been the same: hard work, honesty, and knowing our customers.  With The Fantastic Store, we will be bringing along the same thought-process that we employ with our online site, BlowoutCards.com.  We always want to learn what our customers want, and do what we have to do to bring it to them.  With our online site, we get to know what customers want when we receive online requests via email and also by analyzing sales and market trends.  Through the store, interaction will be on a friendlier level as we will be able to talk with our customers and engage them in person.  I’m excited!

Q: Does your store have any advantages that others might not have? Can we expect online prices at retail?
Our store will be a miniature version of our Blowout Cards warehouse.  Customers at The Fantastic Store will have unprecedented access to a huge range of products that any hobby shop would envy.  As we touched upon earlier, our marketing team will also be working closely with The Fantastic Store to bring the full-on Blowout Cards experience to our retail customers.

Q: What kinds of products will your store have? Does any of that create any challenges for you in terms of what you need to pursue on the market?
The Fantastic Store will carry an extensive line of sports, gaming and entertainment cards as well as all of the supplies any collector would need to protect their collections.  Our purchasing team is always on the lookout for the next hot items and are excited to expand into other product lines outside of trading cards. Our team just returned from the International Toy Fair in New York City last week.  We are now currently in the process of opening accounts with several manufacturers to enhance our online and retail store offerings.  But in case you are wondering, we are fully aware who we are as a company and trading cards will always be at the core of what we do.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

 

11 Comments

If you are in the area be sure to stop by the shop and mention this article.
We look forward to seeing you in Northern Va’s newest sportscard superstore!

Posted February 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
XstreamINsanity

I think everyone ignored the elephant in the room. I don’t know where it stands, but one of the things I saw last year was Blowout complaining about not being able to receive product the same time dealers do, or something along those lines, because they did not have a storefront. While there may have been other reasons for this move as well, but I honestly believe that is the biggest reason. However, if I ever have the time and money, I’m going to have to take a vacation and drive to some of the bigger known stores just to say I’ve been there. :)

Posted February 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

It’s not THAT big of a store. At least it doesn’t look all that big from the outside.

We all know why this store exists: It’s a front so that Blowout can continue to sell Upper Deck stuff.

Posted February 17, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
LouSeal

its not that they want to get product when dealers do…its so they can sell upper deck and panini on the day of release without having to hold it back a week like all the other on-line sellers.
as a side note, the article mentions that blowout is doing the opposite of all the other hobby retailers…which is a good thing. hobby shops arent on the decline (solely) for lack of buyers, they’re on the decline because they refuse to embrace the technology and aren’t growing WITH the hobby. Hobby shops need to back up their business with an online presence, which blowout obviously does well.

Posted February 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink
CNR

Exactly. This shop was opened solely to get around the AIR restrictions from Panini and others. Sure they’ll give you the “feel good” PR spin saying it’s about the customers, but they got spanked with the week delay that opening this money pit was their only way around it.

Posted February 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
Anthony D'Amalio

Personally, I don’t care WHY Blowout did it, I’m just ecstatic that they did. Hobby shops (near me, at least) have either disappeared or grown stagnant. They line there shelves with dusty packs of 92 Score and other meaningless old sets and haven’t pulled in the high-end products I’d love to be able to go to a store and pick up, in my hand, right now. I’m in Chesapeake, so it’s roughly a 3 to 4 hour drive to Chantilly, but I’ll pack up the girlfriend and head that way with money in pocket! THANK YOU!

Posted February 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

Sports Cards Plus is celebrating our 20th Anniversary. I agree that card shops must embrace the internet in order to flourish. The internet is an economical means to advertise and communicate with current and future customers. And, the internet provides a means for collectors to find/buy every possible card. Sports Cards Plus has teamed with Beckett Grading. If you want to sell your cards for a profit on the internet, card grading is a 100% must do.

However, the decline of the card shop can also be directly tied to the popularity of the internet and the resulting oversaturation of sellers/retailers/wholesalers. In the 1990’s, there were 52 sports card shops in San Antonio, today, we have three. The problem is that too many collectors left the hobby. There are many reasons they left the hobby. One issue is no one likes to see their collection/investment loose money. The oversaturation of sellers and the resulting price wars on the internet drove card/box values down (investment losses) and collectors out of the hobby. This hobby needs to win them back and cultivate new collectors. This is where the local card shop plays a valuable part to the future success of this hobby.

At least three new/young collectors come into my store every week. While most of these prospective collectors may not now spend tons of money, they are the future of this hobby. They have many questions and are seeking human interaction. They are confused by the mix messages they read on the internet and don’t know how to separate fact from fiction. I answer their questions and introduce them to other collectors in my shop.

In March, I will attend my second Sports Card Industry Summit in Las Vegas. This Summit provides cards shops a means to interact with the Manufacturers and Hobby Distributers to work towards making this a better hobby. It also facilitates a platform for exchange of ideas for card shop owners to improve their business and card collecting experience.

I see this hobby improving and working its way back to the popularity of the 1990s. As a card shop owner, I look forward to the rest of 2012 and meeting many more future sports card collectors.

Posted February 18, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink
& co.

it’ll go out of business within a year, just like every other card shop

Posted February 18, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

I live in San Antonio, and while i agree with Mr. DiPietro on his points i think something bigger happen to collecting, i know times change, i don’t see it as collecting anymore it’s more about making the bucks, what i mean is that MLB, NFL, NBA, and the players assc. they took a once proud industry and killed it, not allowing compition between card company’s, card companies, making you wait for months sometimes years for your product ” redemption”, recent questions about the authenticity of game worn jeresey cards, theres a reson it’s called blow out cards it’s in the title its just buisness sell cheap make the most just another day. but go to a place like i go to buy cards WHATS ON SECOND yes it mite cost a couple of dollars more than some of the online wholesellers but collecting is still alive there, you breath, taste it as soon as you enter, you will spend hours talking and listening to real collectors to an owner who is pasionate about his dreams, yea mite sound a little cornnie, but its what keeps the kid in me alive, and able to remember the days when things where not so complicated, but times change that is a fact, just saying

Posted February 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

Sports Cards Plus/ Charlie great post and congrats on 20 years
New collectors are vital to the success and future of the hobby and 1 of the many reasons we opened our store.
Hope to meet you in Vegas at the Industry Summit.

Today was our 1st Saturday open for business and I can tell you collectors in Northern Va are excited about The Fantastic Store.
We still have work to do for the Grand opening weekend 3/1 and look forward to sharing our passion for this great hobby with our customers & our friends.
One of the benefits of owning a store is having access to products that can only be had by maintaining a brick and mortar hobby shop.
We hope that all visitors to our shop enjoy it and I welcome any comments or feedback.
I am always available at Fish@blowoutcards.com

Thanks again and hope to see you at Blowoutcards- The Fantastic Store in Chantilly Va.

Posted February 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
Aardvark Ratnick

What happened with the lawsuit against Upperdeck? They must have been told to bite it, hence a store opening to go crawling back to UD. Funny.

Posted April 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

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