This is the first interview I have ever done for the blog and it definitely will not be the last. I was contacted by Adam of Dave and Adam’s Card World after my review between Dave and Adam’s and Blowout Cards. Despite me giving Blowout Cards the upper hand in that head to head purchase, Adam was nice enough to email me and make himself available to me. He even offered me a tour of their facility in upstate New York for whenever I am in the area. Anyway, I took him up on his first offer and sent some questions his way late last week. I got some great, well thought responses. I’m not sure if I can do the responses justice by breaking them up. So here is the full context of my interview with Adam of Dave and Adam’s Card World. Warning: It is pretty long!
Sports Card Blog: I’ll start with the basics, how did DACW get started?
Adam: Dave Silver and I met on the local card show circuit in 1987. At the time, we were the youngest dealers in the area and we ended up becoming friends. In 1988, we started running classified buying ads together under the name Dave & Adam’s Hockey World which would change in 1989 to Dave & Adam’s Card World. In 1991 I was looking for someone to open a card store with and approached Dave with the idea of becoming business partners. Dave had one more semester of school left, but readily accepted and on May 15th, 1991 our little 500 square foot store with no parking opened in Buffalo New York. We struggled for the first couple of years, putting almost everything we earned back into the business, until a few good purchases allowed us to move to the 3000 square foot store we still operate in Tonawanda New York.
During this time we were also running a mail order business for single cards that was growing faster than anticipated. Eighty hour work weeks were typical. When Ebay arrived on the scene we began listing thousands of cards per week and quickly grew to a 5 person company. Several large purchases necessitated us renting our first warehouse which Dave ran while I manned the store. When memorabilia and autographed cards arrived on the scene in 1996 we channeled our energies into becomingthe place to find the top cards. We stepped up our advertising and soon had the World’s top collectors counting on us to find the rare cards they needed. I was traveling every weekend to major shows around the country just looking to buy high end modern cards. During this time I began making connections with trading card distributors and manufacturers which would set the stage for the next major metamorphosis of our company.
By 2000 Ebay dominated the market for unopened boxes. Most of the hundreds of dealers who had begun trading card websites in the 1990’s were now selling exclusively on Ebay. Recognizing that the industry didn’t have a one stop online source for unopened boxes of cards and utilizing the connections we had made with the manufacturers and distributors, we launched dacardworld.com. Right away we saw that our decision was a good one. We rented a larger warehouse and grew to 20 full-time employees. Every year we were growing rapidly, adding new product lines, and hiring more and more people. Today we have 50 full time employees and work out of a 35,000 office and warehouse facility.
Sports Card Blog: Approximately how many orders are you handling a week and how many people are employed to get the operation done?
Adam: Depending on the time of year we handle 2000-4000 orders per week. It takes a lot of people to make the system work. We have a full-time marketing department, a dozen order pullers and shippers, a sales force, customer service team, I.T department, and several people whose job it is just to buy merchandise for the site and manage it.
Sports Card Blog: What does it mean to you to be chosen as one of the few Upper Deck Official Online Retailers?
Adam: We were of course pleased to be chosen as an Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailer.
I believe all of the manufacturer’s trust us. Upper Deck choosing us is an extension of that trust. Konami has a new program we are a part of and Panini is launching a new program this summer that we will be part of as well. More than ever it is key for a business such as ours to work closely with the manufacturers to remain viable in this business.
Sports Card Blog: In your opinion, what makes you a better choice than all your competitors?
Adam: That’s a tough question. All my competitors do a variety of things well. Some are focused on trying to be the cheapest while others focus on selection and service. I think we do an excellent job in both areas.
Regarding pricing, one thing many collectors aren’t aware of is that we offer discounted pricing to our repeat customers and larger buyers. This we refer to as our Premier Program. We felt a long time ago that better customers should be rewarded with better pricing. When a Premier customer logs onto to the website he sees a price lower than the public sees. Twice a week we review our competitors pricing on current releases to make sure that we are competitive, especially at the Premier level. On top of that, customers who place an order over $75 can add free packs and boxes to their order. Case buyers especially like this since they often get a box of two of free cards that they can bust, giveaway, or even resell. On top of that, we always make sure we have a wide variety of boxes and cases at prices our competition just can’t match. Many of these come from large purchases from distributors or manufacturers.
Selection and service are incredibly important as well. We have customer service specialists on hand to answer questions or concerns six days a week as well as personal sales reps to deal on a one to one basis with our Premier customers. When a good customer has an issue with a redemption or another problem with a manufacturer, we can generally handle it for them. And of course of ourselection is unbelievable. Not only do we have a massive selection of unopened boxes, cases and sets going back to the 70’s, we have newer singles, vintage singles and sets, gaming, entertainment, autographed memorabilia, supplies, plus all kinds of different clearance items we come across. I sincerely believe that when you add it all together we are the premier trading card website in the industry today.
(SCB Note: I did not use my Premier Membership when I purchased my boxes, as I felt it may alter the review for the casual buyer.)
Sports Card Blog: Finally, I have a couple of questions from your consumers…why is your free shipping with over a $150 purchase strictly UPS Ground when USPS may be similar in price and arrive to your customers earlier?
Adam: Great question. Next to employee salaries shipping is our number one expense. To get the best possible rates with UPS we have to reach a certain shipping volume. On top of that, we have virtually no issues with UPS. Maybe 1 in 1000 orders have an issue. With USPS the numbers just aren’t as good. The main issue with UPS is transit time to the west coast and other regions distant from our area. While we offer free 3-day upgrades for orders over $300 to our Premier customers, the occasional buyer in California has to wait 6 days for their order. We recently met with Fed-Ex, who can bring it down to 4-days, and have begun to explore the possibility of USPS Priority mail to certain regions in the US. I’m certain that by the Holidays we will have something in place that offers better service to customers who live far from us.
(SCB Note: I did not use my Premier Membership when I purchased my boxes, as I felt it may alter the review for the casual buyer. And personally, living in Oregon, this sounds great.)
Sports Card Blog: What do you say to those who believe you are hurting the local card shops with your low prices?
Adam: It would be disrespectful to card store owners for me to say anything other than that there is no doubt that websites such as mine and my competitors have hurt card stores immeasurably. You only need to look at the difference between the number of stores today versus ten years ago to see that this is true. What is especially hard for me personally is that store owners who loved us when we were buying their 98/99 Jordan autographed Jersey cards for $8000 now dislike us. If I were in their situation I would feel the same way. Having said that, Upper Deck’s new program seems to be making it easier for Card Stores and our company to co-exist, and Panini’s new program should as well. Some people don’t know that we operate three cards stores in Western New York and have a fourth opening in July. Hopefully in the future the manufacturers all find ways to support the online environment and embrace retail sellers as well.
Sports Card Blog: And I’ll end it on an easy note, do you collect cards yourself? If so, what are your favorite teams or players to collect?
Adam: I have been collecting vintage cards since 1985. Mostly Shoeless Joe Jackson, Christy Mathewson and Roberto Clemente. Occasionally I will look at a product not doing well and buy 10 cases with my own money as an investment – last year’s 2010 Topps T206 Baseball comes to mind. Much easier than buying stocks.
I’d like to thank Adam for his time answering my questions as well as the couple I gathered from people online. It’s obvious he is passionate about his business and the hobby from these answers and he is a very classy individual. As you can see, the answers were amazing which is why I wanted to post the full context. I just didn’t want to leave anything out.
If you have any comments about his responses, please post them here in the comment section of the blog. I am 100% sure Adam will be stopping by to read this post. While I don’t know if he will be posting anything himself, when I send him a link to the article I will ask him to read any comments that may be posted.
Again, thank you Adam for spending the time to answer these questions for me. If you have not visited the Dave and Adam’s Card World Facebook page I recommend clicking Like. They will often post coupon codes and have giveaways just for a simple Like click. Their latest coupon code is (533-FWY9) for $5 off a $50 order. I’m not sure if it’s still valid, but it’s an example of what you can find there.