Growing up in the hobby and now doing it as my profession, I’ve noticed an interesting trend when it comes to collectors. The vast majority have two groups of friends, those who collect and those who don’t. I’ve always found it curious as to why it is that collectors will keep the hobby they love a secret to most of their closest friends. That’s not to say they keep it a total secret; usually they will share that they do collect cards and memorabilia while also having items displayed in their office and home. It is seldom, however, when they will share the full enormity of their passion and encourage their friends to join the hobby.
Why is that?
Some collectors I spoke with shared some reasons they are not more active in sharing the fact they collect with others. One was pretty funny. He said, “I don’t want them to think I’m a nerd,” and then went on to talk about how he hides it from the opposite sex as well. Collecting sports items does not make you a nerd; collecting PEZ dispensers or something else quirky like that may qualify, however. And with regard to sharing your collection with the ladies, it probably is best to keep it on the down low until you get more serious. When you do decide she might be the one, just follow these tips.
Another collector said he gets a little worried about possibly being targeted for theft, not because he thinks his friends will rob from him, but that they might tell someone, who might tell someone, etc. That makes perfect sense; you do need to be a little careful. The vast majority of collectors I spoke with though shared they just do not feel their friends would understand what it is all about.
So why not teach them?
If you help your friends learn a little more about your collecting pursuits, there are two clear benefits I can see happening:
1. You may be able to have a deeper and more meaningful friendship. By sharing the hobby with your friends you will have more to talk about and will connect with on new levels. If they are your friend, it stands to reason they will like what you like, so why not share?
2. By helping create new collectors, you are also making an investment in your collection. That’s right, if you help to get more people collecting, your collection will ultimately be worth more because there will be a greater demand for those collectible items. If you just keep your hobby a secret and fewer people do it, the long-term value of your collection will ultimately go down because there is less demand. So sharing the hobby with others is an investment you are making in your passion.
How you ultimately do share your hobby and teach your friends about it is something you probably want to be a little careful with. Here are some tips that I have heard from others or used myself to make exposing new users to our products a little easier to process for both parties.
1. Don’t share your hobby in a group. You should share it with friends one at a time and make them think it is something you don’t normally share with everyone. Say something like, “You want to see something cool? I usually don’t share this with people, but I think you’ll really dig it.” That makes them feel like you are letting them in on a little secret. Make sure you pick out a couple of items you think they will really enjoy. Tell them some of these pieces are valuable so make sure they keep what you share confidential. Also in groups you may have that one friend who immediately begins to discount and discredit your collection with the other non-collectors.
2. Don’t share too much and make sure to share it slowly. You can’t just turn someone into a collector overnight. Make it easy for them to consume the information over a number of visits. If you tried showing them your whole collection in one visit, their head might explode. You don’t feed a baby a steak right out of the womb; you’ve got to start off with small portions of baby food. Feed them the right amount and they will be hungry for more.
3. Talk about the fun of collecting, not necessarily the secondary values of all the items. Cards and memorabilia today are so much different than they were in the past. They really just have a lot of “wow” elements to them already. They’ll learn about the values later, but start them off by talking about how these items help tie you back to the sports and players you love.
4. Take them to a hobby shop or card show. Again, you do not want to do this right off the bat, but after you’ve spent a little time with them sharing the hobby, take them out to a hobby shop or show where they can see you in your preferred environment. Let them meet some of your collector friends and the people you buy from and help them make some initial purchases of their own to start their collection.
5. Continue to take it slow and encourage them. Remember that you are the one with all the experience. Much like a rookie, they need time to get acclimated to the game and as a seasoned pro, you need to help them learn over time and through experience. Be supportive while they learn. So if they open an Upper Deck pack and are elated to get an autograph card, get excited with them.
This week we announced a really great promotion on our Facebook page where you can have the opportunity to receive an autographed helmet or football from the top 2010 NFL rookies if you simply change your Facebook profile picture to that of your favorite Upper Deck football card for a little less than a week. So why not try it? And when your friends ask why you did get interested in the card, take it upon yourself to teach them about the hobby. Connect with your friends on a whole new level and help the future of your investment in the hobby. Remember these tips and most importantly, don’t be afraid to share your passion for collecting with friends.