Tips on Saving Money Running a Sports Trading Card Shop
Posted On 07 Mar 2016 / 1 Comment
When I was booking my ticket to attend the annual Industry Summit, I approached host Kevin Isaacson about hosting a meeting for shop owners, manufacturers, distributors and anyone else to attend to discuss ways to improve each of our bottom lines. While I did not leave Hawaii with a great tan or the ability to hula dance, I was able to come back with some ideas that will more importantly bolster my store's profitability.
Mike Fruitman, like many card shop owners, has a lot to manage with regard to his business.
Let’s face it; if you own a card store, you are typically in charge of your employees, buying, social media campaigns, accounting, quality control, cleaning, sorting and a few other matters. The only person to wear more hats in this field was Octavio Dotel and that’s because he played for thirteen different baseball teams.
As a shop owner, we spend most of our time worrying about how many cases of a new release to order, whether the flavor of the week player actually deliver or if buying the collection in front of us is really a good idea or not. So few of us take the time to break down our business expenses and make changes that will really help our bottom lines.
We looked at the following topics as areas to more closely inspect to positively impact our businesses.
Getting a Store Credit Card – Every shop has to have a credit card to purchase either directly from manufacturers of from distributors. I used to use an AMEX Plum credit card that paid me back 2% of my purchases. Sadly AMEX is discontinuing the Plum card so I started a Capitol One Spark cardthat now offers the same 2% back on all purchases. If you do not know what rewards you are getting from your shop credit card, It is time to take a closer look, you might be leaving a ton of 2% on the table.
Negotiate With Your Credit Card Processor – Since we are on the subject of credit cards, every time you swipe a card from your collectors, you are giving someone a percentage of that sale for the convenience of being able to take that card. Every January 2nd or so, I call my credit card processor to see where I can find savings. It might be dropping annual fees, the cost per swipe, the percentage I am being charged or making sure that over the course of the past year, that no other fees have been tacked onto my account. After talking with other shop owners, I will be doing that every three months, not every year and I will be looking specifically at possibly switching to Costco for my credit card processing.
Online Pricing – As a shop owner, there are few things more fun (I am being 100% sarcastic here) than collectors who show me where the same boxes I offer are being sold for less online. I have learned that when I go to Office Depot, Staples or many other essential businesses for business supplies that most will price match online offers on the same items. I typically show them Amazon prices on my phone and they always matched the better prices.
Get a Pit Bull for An Accountant – Well, technically Pit Bulls are illegal in many places but you can always hire one to do your accounting. I recently switched accountants after I felt that I was not getting enough deductions and that my best interests were not being considered. If your accountant is only concerned about taking your receipts and getting through them as fast as possible to get to the next client, you might want to switch as well. With their familiarity in looking at books, they should be able to find a few ways to keep more of your hard earned Benjamins in your pocket instead of Uncle Sam’s.
Did you know that attending the Industry Summit is actually tax deductible for shop owners? You can deduct airfare, hotel, rental car, even dry cleaning. Food is only tax deductible up to 50%, but still, a good accountant will help you with that!
Thermal Printers and Refurbished Products – I used to have an awkward love/hate relationship with my credit card machine or cash register and replacing the ink and toner. While it was always a sense of satisfaction knowing that each toner cartridge helped me sell many thousands of dollars’ worth of packs, boxes and singles. Each cartridge also had a sometimes healthy cost to it as well. We now have a thermal printing cash register and credit card machine and the only ribbon I purchase is for my daughter. We also do not automatically offer a thermal paper receipt to our collectors since most of the time they were just thrown away. Heck, many of my collectors are married and do not want the extra evidence of visiting a card store lying around. Some shop owners also talked about buying refurbished machines and shared that not only did it save them money up front, but that they experienced no more issues in running them than with their other machines.
Thermal printers help reduce the heat on office expenses.
Store Insurance – There is no more annoying check that I write each year than the one I send out to my insurance company. Granted there is no smart way to go without it and with so many insurance companies avoiding card stores for the collectible aspect, there are not a lot of options. It is always worth checking with your insurance company to make sure your coverage is in line and priced right. I will be shopping my policy around to see if there is a better rate out there. Some of the few remaining companies suggested that still cover card stores were Travelers, Farmers, Allstate and Pekin. Additionally, making sure that you have security mechanisms in place can help reduce the cost of your policy, talk to your agent about that.
Trash – No I am not talking about 1991 Fleer, I am talking about what you pay for trash removal. One store shared that by switching companies, they were able to take a monthly bill for garbage pick-up from well over $100 to the price of about 10 packs of base Upper Deck cards.
Co-Op Funds – Upper Deck is one manufacturer who offers stores the opportunity to enjoy support for promotions that fall within their guidelines. They can help you merchandise your store better by assisting you purchase items like a new store sign, social media spends for advertising or other items that can help your business. You start with your Authorized Distributor and together they will cover half of your cost which is a big help in terms of saving money to make your shop look better!
This store signed was purchased partially using co-op funds through Upper Deck and an Authorized Distributor.
LED Lighting – I know, there is nothing more fun than talking about lighting to a sports card store owner, but with my recent move, I negotiated a healthy amount of tenant improvement. Since there was no demolition involved and I do not really see the need for gold plated faucet covers, we are planning on switching out all 27 lighting ballasts from bulb to LED. The payout will take some time to offset, but my electrician suggests that my store will enjoy an annual savings of $500 - $600 on energy and on top of that, I will not have to enjoy the fun of climbing a ladder to replace bulbs when they burn out. Additional, you should check with your local energy provider to see if they offer any rebates or incentives for making the switch.
Investments in energy reductions and going green can help with your bottom line in the long run.
So there you have it, a little insight to the incredibly sexy conversations that you might have missed out on by not attending the 2016 Industry Summit in Hawaii. Yes, we were able to have a discussion that did not involve redemptions, product delays or even exclusive licenses and this one might have been more meaningful to the bottom lines of all who were part of it.
If you are a hobby shop or even a collector that knows some great ways for small businesses to save, I would encourage you to please share them in the comment section below so that your local card shop might be able to keep more of your hard spent dollars from escaping like heat through a non-insulated door. Hey wait, there is another great idea!
Don't open the door and let all these happy customers out!