I was in Las Vegas and I couldn’t sleep. Not because I was eager to wake up and visit a world-famous buffet the next morning or to hit the tables in hope of making big bucks, but because I was excited about trading cards. I guess that means I am officially a dork, but that is what happens at the Las Vegas Industry Summit. You are thrust into rooms with some of the most successful people in our business and it is just truly inspiring. As I tried to go to sleep each night, I frequently woke up to write down a different idea for a new product or program that had stemmed from conversations throughout the day. And over the past two days I’ve been trying to organize them while planning meetings with key staff members to hopefully bring some of these ideas to fruition.
Upper Deck had a Home-Base booth with all sorts of cool items on display like new Michael Jordan and LeBron James signed items from Upper Deck Authenticated. We also had a huge display of Entomology and Animal Kingdom Patch cards from Goodwin Champions. Even some of the Civil War memorabilia and press sheets from 2012 Goodwin Champions were on display and shop owners loved what they saw!
We got some great feedback during those Home Base sessions with the hundreds of retailers in attendance and had the chance to give back to them with a special raffle on Tuesday night where we gave away twenty items they could use to run promotions in their shop!
The big day for Upper Deck however really took place on Monday when we were able to present to close to 200 Certified Diamond Dealers in attendance. We shared information about the success of our new distribution program that allows these shops to compete on service instead of price. Additionally we ran through slides of several of our new products and there were “Ooooohs” and “Aaaaaahs” from those in attendance as they saw new products revealed like 2011 Exquisite Football, 2011-12 Exquisite Basketball, 2012 Upper Deck Football and 2012 All-Time Greats Sports Edition. You can look for more details on those soon!
For me it was exciting to share some new marketing ideas for those in attendance that would hopefully allow them to create more awareness for their business. My favorite moment however was when I awarded the Steve James Award to Wayne Wagner, the owner of Wayne’s Sports Cards in Edmonton, Alberta. Steve James owned The Bullpen and was a very creative hobby shop owner who did a lot of great things for our industry. When he passed away, we felt it was important to do something to keep his memory alive. There were a lot of shop owners in that room that deserved an award for their efforts in serving as positive ambassadors to our products. In the end, Wayne modeled a lot of the great behaviors that made Steve James such a positive role model in the industry. It was a special moment and I think Steve would have approved of our selection.
We concluded the meeting by sharing a random autograph card with those in attendance crated specifically for this show. These Las Vegas Industry Summit cards are extremely rare with no card having more that 30 copies. There were also rare dual signed cards as well featuring Michael Jordan paired with Wayne Gretzky, Adrian Peterson with Gale Sayers, Wayne Gretzky with Bobby Orr and LeBron James with Magic Johnson. Shop owners were like kids as they pulled their rare Upper Deck autograph card from a special black UDA pouch. Take a look!
There were a variety of panels throughout the week that really served to help educate and inspire. I really enjoyed visiting with others at their Home Base booths discussing ways we could potentially help each other. Grant Sandground (one of our key product managers) and I took some time out to appear on Cardboard Connection Radio which was a lot of fun as we went through some new products and programs with fans.
We left inspired with a variety of exciting new programs we hope to reveal in the coming weeks. Actually, I just shared one of them yesterday. If you are a hobby shop owner that made it to the event, let us know what inspired you about the show in the comment section below.
And for those of you who didn’t make it, here is your opportunity to own a rare Las Vegas Industry Summit autograph card of Gale Sayers. The whole event is really about how to make the hobby better, how to put out better products, offer heightened levels of service, etc. So since you couldn’t be there to share, we want you to share right here. Please leave a comment below with your great idea to help make the hobby better. It can be an idea about our products, our programs, our staff, pretty much anything. We will select our favorite idea on Monday, March 26 and reward the Sayers card to that customer. You can submit more than one idea if you like, just don’t copy another fan’s idea.