Reply from Upper Deck’s Mike Phillips

So as you may have read with my interview with Thomas Fish of Blowout Cards, I asked about why Blowout Cards was not part of the Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailers program. I was told to direct any questions about that to Mike Phillips, Director of Hobby Sales, or Richard McWilliams, CEO of Upper Deck. I figured that I wouldn’t get any response from the CEO of a large company like Upper Deck so I went to the source which I felt would give me an answer. In a short turn around time, I received an answer that completely avoided my actual question 100%.

I explained my situation of why I was asking the question and specifically asked why Blowout Cards was not an Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailer. The response I received seemed like a form letter with my name attached to the top. No answers, no comments, nothing. This is basically like saying “no comment” to the press when you have a question. You know they know the answer, they just don’t want to say it. Here is what was said:

Thank you for your interest in Upper Deck’s Authorized Internet Retailer program. While there are many factors that Upper Deck takes into account when choosing its AIRS, first and foremost to even be considered as an AIR one must own and operate a full time brick & mortar trading card and collectibles store. Any brick & mortar store that has met the qualifications of becoming, AND has been approved as a Certified Diamond Dealer can apply to be considered for appointment as an AIR. Upper Deck will add additional AIRs to its network as it deems necessary. Upper Deck currently has eight AIRs in the US and five in Canada, with a few new AIRs pending in the coming months.”

So there is the answer. I was told that Blowout Cards has a B&M store as well and I’m guessing with their presence in the hobby they have moved quite a bit of Upper Deck product over the years. Why would you not allow one of your best retailers the opportunity to not sell your product in the first 30 days, or whatever the limitations are?

Personally, I don’t see this program lasting for the long run. Not only are collectors unhappy with this program, so are some of your top retailers over the past few years. If you really want to fix brick and mortar sales, it’s not your job to do it. It is 100% up to the B&M shops to fix themselves. I would not mind paying $10-$20 over prices at places like Blowout Cards at a B&M shop if I actually enjoyed going to the B&M shop. The ones I have been to around me are terrible. They know nothing about the products coming out, they are overpriced even more, and rarely do they get their products on the shelves in enough time. They don’t cater to the customer, all they do is cater to themselves. I am going to use my experience at Wayne’s Sports Cards in Edmonton, Canada, is my prime example of how a shop should be run. Great customer service, promotions, and tons of selection. If I lived up there I would be in there whenever a new product came out instead of ordering from anywhere online in Canada. In the end, collectors don’t want to wait to open their boxes. That is what made Chris of Cards Infinity so popular. I will show up at a B&M that deserves the support and pay whatever to open up product myself. I just can’t find one in my area that I am willing to support. And B&Ms are wondering why they are losing money.

Quit whining to Upper Deck and Panini that your sales are down. Take some of the blame yourselves and improve the experience and make people actually want to come to the store. Until that happens, people will just keep buying from places like Blowout or DA Card World online.

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7 Responses to Reply from Upper Deck’s Mike Phillips

  1. RJ Reyes says:

    I can agree. I used to love going to my B&M store, but he was whining about internet sales, and then slowly, getting less and less product on time. The people who did go, knew virtually nothing about product, and it seemed like it was a hangout for the owners friends. As a business, had I been a collector starting off, I’d have been turned off, because it wasn’t about the customer. It was about hanging out with the owner’s friends. It was like his man cave away from home.

  2. See, I knew I wasn’t the only one with horrible experiences in card shops.

  3. Dave says:

    See this is why I WOULD LOVE to have the money to open a shop! Even in today’s time! I’ve been in retail all my life and always build a good rapor with my customers to the point when they come into the store, they look for me first because I always know where everything is and I always have the answer for them, whereas others don’t. I care about people and what they think and what they want to buy. I like being face to face with them and give them the BEST that I can. If I only HAD the money to open up shop, I would do it in a HEARTBEAT. Just sayin………….treat your people right, KNOW what your selling and what’s coming out and when, and PROMOTE yourself! Your not just promoting a store your promoting YOURSELF, what YOUR image is will be what your store is, treat your customers RIGHT and they’ll always come back and be happy customers :-)

  4. Wilf says:

    Even though everyone says the stores are a dying breed, I’ve been considering a store, too. I’ve had a tough time trying to find the box costs when you purchase directly from the manufacturer, though. I tried to call a couple to gt some information but I couldn’t get anyone on the phone.

  5. mfw13 says:

    Brick and mortar card stores have several major problems which make it difficult for them to stay in business.

    The first is overhead costs, which online sellers often do not have.

    The second is the fact that they are essentially middle-men, getting product from distributors/manufacturers and re-selling it to cullectors after marking up the price. And middle-men are ALWAYS the most vulnerable part of a supply chain, which is why B&M stores are having a very difficult time competing with the likes of DACW and Blowout.

    The third is that by being in a specific location, they force customers to come to them, something that customers are less and less willing to do given the convenience of online shopping and Ebay.

    Lastly, given the diversity of collecting interests within the hobby, it is very difficult for a B&M store to effectively manage inventory.

    Add it all up, and you get a road that’s very difficult to hoe economically speaking.

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