Interview: Thomas Fish of Blowout Cards

After the success of my interview with Adam of Dave and Adam’s Card World and my review of Blowout Cards vs. DA Card World I received an email recently from Thomas Fish, one of the owners of Blowout Cards. He was disappointed that I gave the nod to DA Card World when it came to customer service and assured me that Blowout Cards treats every customer with the same level of customer service and mentions how Blowout gives away a lot of product during the year without customers needing to buy anything. For one, I can attest to that as I entered one of their contests recently for a full case of product for showing your reaction to receiving a redemption card. After spending time in their forums, which I had never really visited, they give away items quite a bit to members on their site which is great for promotions. So I recommend people check out the Blowout Cards Forums.

So after that email and checking out what he was talking about, I decided to ask him a few questions. I used questions in my interview with Adam and also got some more input from the sports card community. Again, nothing really hard hitting but you can read his responses and maybe it will help you decide where you want to purchase your products from. So here is another uncut interview from Sports Card Blog (Caution: Another long read!):

 Sports Card Blog: I’ll start with the basics, how did Blowout Cards get its start in the trading card industry?

Thomas Fish: Blowout Cards was founded in 1998 by Chris Park. Chris started off breaking boxes and cases and selling team sets and singles to collectors and card shops across the country. His customer base expanded and he bgan to move from singles cards to unopened wax. Providing unopened boxes and cases at the best prices on the Internet became his niche. While others were focusing on card shows back in the late 90s, Chris was building an Internet presence through newsgroups and websites…one of which was eBay. In 2005, Thomas Fish partnered with Chris and began to build and market BlowoutCards.com.

Sports Card Blog: How many employees do you have working for you?

Thomas Fish: The Blowout Cards team currently consists of approximately a dozen members and that number does fluctuate depending one what projects we have and the time of year.

Sports Card Blog: In your opinion, what makes your company a better choice when purchasing products?

Thomas Fish: The consumer has many choices when making their purchases and our goal is to provide a hobby shop experience online for collectors.

Blowout Cards is focused on providing consumers with a fun place to shop, the most competitive prices and the very best customer service. We are very proud of being voted best online retailer the last 2 years by collectors. We do our best with the assistance of our community to provide as much information as possible so our customers can make smart choices when making their purchases.

Sports Card Blog: Why was Blowout Cards not included in the first batch of Upper Deck Authorized Online Retailers? Or why do you think this happened if there was no official reason?

Thomas Fish: This is a question that should be directed to Upper Deck. The director of hobby sales Michael_Phillips@upperdecknv.com or the CEO of Upper Deck Richard_McWilliam@upperdeck.com would be better suited to answer that.

(SCB Note: I have sent an email to Michael Phillips and await a response.)

Sports Card Blog: Now I have some questions from your consumers…I had a few people ask if you plan on carrying older wax products or more of a selection of older wax products then you currently have in stock?

Thomas Fish: We are always looking to enhance our product selection. If collectors are looking for any specific products the Blowout Cards team has numerous resources to procure older wax. We are always adding to our product selection and urge collectors to follow us on Twitter where we constantly update with our new offerings and restocks.

Specific out of stock items or older wax inquiries should be sent to chris@blowoutcards.com

Sports Card Blog: How are you able to keep your prices so much lower than your competition?

Thomas Fish: We run a very efficient business and negotiate with vendors the best deals possible and pass on the savings to our customers.

Sports Card Blog: An issue that several people weren’t impressed with was the way giant sales are handled by Blowout and if you planned on a different system in the future? (ex. Black Friday)

Thomas Fish: We were the first in the sports card industry to run a “Black Friday” sale on that scale on-line. The Black Friday sale was one of the most successful sales in Blowout Cards history with over 2 million page views. We were able to offer our customers thousands of boxes at prices never seen before. We did learn a lot from that sale and although mostly positive, some customers did have difficulty getting through and ordering since many of the boxes sold out within a few minutes. The Blowout Cards team is constantly looking for ways to enhance the customer experience. We are very open to any suggestions and ideas and all are appreciated and can be emailed to fish@blowoutcards.com.

Sports Card Blog: Does Blowout plan on starting a loyalty program for repeat customers?

Thomas Fish: We do appreciate all of our customers and run some of the industry’s most entertaining and fun promotions. We are planning on many more exciting things for our customers…STAY TUNED and be sure to visit us at Blowout Cards and follow us on Twitter.

Sports Card Blog: And finally, do you personally collect cards yourself? If so, what are your favorite teams or players to collect?

Thomas Fish: Although I don’t currently collect cards myself I do still have my collection from when I was younger. Somtimes I look through it and I am amazed to see how things have changed. It is crazy to think that at one time inserts “limited” to 10,000 were considered extremely rare. Come to think of it when I was first buying packs in the last 70s and 80s inserts didn’t exist. My favorite and first card I bought was a 1976 Fred Lynn at a coin show in White Plains, NY. I instantly became a Red Sox fan. I do collect original comic art and understand the passion that collectors have.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you and your readers.

Sports Card Blog: Thank you Mr. Fish and go Red Sox!

So again, I would like to thank Mr. Thomas Fish of Blowout Cards for spending his time answering these questions for me. It is obvious that he loves his job and understands the passion that collectors have out there. I think with him having a forum on his website, he clearly sees that day in and day out. I will try and get that information on why Blowout Cards was left out of the Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailer program and see if I can get an answer. I’m not sure if I am to expect one or not but if an answer is given I will immediately post the information. It’s definitely a head-scratcher to me as to why Blowout Cards isn’t included and it would be nice to know.

If you haven’t checked out Blowout Cards for your trading card needs I recommend visiting their website. They have some of the best prices on the internet when it comes to boxes and make sure you check out their forums too. They seem to always have cool stuff going on there.

Trading Sports Cards Online

We at Sports Card Blog love to trade cards, but the location is absolutely terrible for trading. Living in kind of a mountain, cow town has it’s disadvantages in this regard. The closest decent shops are 30 minutes to an hour away and they really don’t have any events for collectors or their customers. Once a month there is a show at a mall about 35 minutes away. I have actually never been to Jantzen Beach Mall for this card show, but if it is anything like some of the hobby shops in the city I’m going to be disappointed. They need to take some of my ideas to run a better hobby shop.

So I have to resort to doing 99.9% of my trading online, but that is okay with me. Even though I have to pay to ship the cards in some sort of protective package and send it to far away countries like Canada, it’s still worth it in the end. I haven’t had the opportunity to trade with anyone farther away then Canada but I am always happy to trade with anyone else.

I use different sports card forums for my trading. When choosing a sports card forum for trading, you look to find the most legit forums. I’ve been browsing several forums lately looking for the best of the best. First, let me start off by saying no site is 100% safe when you are trading. But I would stay away from places like YouTube where there is absolutely no method of weeding out the bad traders.

My favorite and the place I trade the most is Sports Card Forum. Sports Card Forum probably has the largest number of people to trade with across all sports. These people come from all ages and backgrounds from around the world. I admit I may have somewhat of a “homer” bias with them because it was my first forum I ever joined and I was a staff member there for 3 years. But over 200 transactions and never having any of my cards or money stolen is definitely a good thing. I would say their forte is their football area which is probably the biggest of any forum sites. They are always looking for ways to improve the experience and have a ton of features. Finally, SCF as it’s called, has the best custom built Trade Manager of any site to keep everything organized and in place.

My second favorite place to trade is at CloutsnChara. First, I want to start by stating they are 95% hockey collectors. I collect all sports but this is definitely a great place to trade if you are into hockey. Plus they hold the most group breaks I have ever seen with just about every product imaginable in hockey. If you’re American like me you’ll be sending to Canada quite a bit and Canada Post isn’t always the most reliable when it comes to international shipping. This owner also owns their own card shop in Canada so they can help you getting the newest hockey products.

Although I’ve never traded on this site, I find the discussion to be top notch and it has great possibilities for trading. Freedom Cardboard is that site. Although at times I find some of the discussions to be brash and some of the members to be kind of rude to newer people, I think they mean well. I would recommend this site to those in the slightly older crowd and those with thicker skin. There are a lot of baseball people there and a lot of prospectors so if you are into prospecting or just baseball cards this is probably the best site for baseball card collectors. The owner here is also always trying to improve the experience with new ideas and also owns his own card shop in Georgia.

I’ve traded on Trading Card Central as well, but I feel like this site is slowly going downhill. The members are leaving and it’s becoming more and more inactive on the forums. Secondly, I haven’t traded on Card Collector’s World but I know a lot of the members and staffers there to be good people. It’s a pretty tight knit community that is easy to integrate yourself into. Finally, I’d like to add The Bench as well. I almost forgot about them but they are still a popular forum to trade on, but like others it has tapered off over the years.

So there is a short list of sites for you to check out if you are interested in trading sports cards online.