Recently I was asked to share how Upper Deck had learned to think differently with regards to marketing at the iMedia Brand Summit. My presentation began with a short video talking about the Star Rookie card we created for our good friend Jack Hoffman.

After the video I was excited to share stories about other inspirational athletes we have worked with like Doc Jacobs, Mandi Schwartz, Jack Miller, Sam Tageson and John Makowiec.

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It was a thrill to be able to present in front of so many savvy marketers for major brands as iMedia always does a great job of bringing incredible personalities together at this event. It was also important to share that we were not helping these inspirational athletes and their charities for any other reason than it was the right thing to do.

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My favorite part of the day however was bringing the trading cards to life for attendees. You see we brought in Doc Jacobs to sign autographs and pose for photos with attendees during the lunch session. Doc made headlines when he earned a tryout with the Los Angeles Dodgers and most recently the Chicago White Sox as a double amputee and Purple Heart recipient. For me it was great to see Doc again as he is a major inspiration for me, but I think attendees got a lot out of visiting with him as well.

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Honoring these inspirational athletes is the right thing to do and we appreciate all the support our fans have given them. It is exciting as we continue to add more athletes to this stable of “Heroic Inspirations” like we did most recently with Josh Harding. Look for more great stories to come in the future!

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A lot has changed from the Civil War era when sports cards first debuted to today, but none has had more of an impact on the industry than the internet. Initially many feared the internet would signal the end to the way trading cards are bought and sold, but for the most part, it has been a positive tool for collectors, hobby shop owners and trading card manufacturers who have chosen to embrace this technology to find new levels of engagement in this hobby. It is clear that Upper Deck has done a great job of engaging their fans through online tools like this Blog, their company website, their Facebook page, their YouTube channel and their Twitter accounts for sports, hockey and entertainment. The tools Upper Deck provides make it a lot easier to be a trading card collector and to stay up to date with the latest happenings with the company.

There used to be trading card clubs where collectors could get together to trade with each other and share their latest trading cards. That is all done online nowadays as there are a variety of online communities where collectors share their great pulls and trade with each other on various forums. And how awesome is that to see the internet bring like-minded collectors together to experience the hobby on a whole new level no matter if they live in Topeka, Kansas or Moosejaw, Saskatchewan.

Arguably the biggest change from before the internet era was how cards are bought and sold. Instead of walking down to your local hobby shop, today you can buy or sell trading cards with a few clicks of the mouse. Unfortunately with internet sales of collectible items come unscrupulous buyers and sellers looking to make a quick buck by taking advantage unsuspecting collectors. Upper Deck has definitely adapted to the times by creating their Authorized Internet Retailer group as a way of protecting consumers from these online predators. If you live in the United States and purchase sealed product online, make sure you are only purchasing your Upper Deck cards through these Authorized Internet Retailers.

OC Dugout is an Authorized Internet Retailer for Upper Deck that routinely brings athletes in for signings. Here Reggie Jackson signs at the popular Southern California store.

Dave & Adams Cardworld Tonawanda, NY 14150 (888) 440-9787 www.dacardworld.com
East Coast Connection Lyndhurst, NJ 07071 (201) 438-4327 www.eastcoastconnection.net
Fox Sports Cards Marion, IL 62959 (618) 997-3800 www.foxsportscards.com
Legacy Sports Cards Las Vegas, NV 89117 702-341-6525 www.legacysportscards.com
Legends Sports and Games Grand Rapids, MI 49512 (866) 975-2518 www.legendsfanshop.com
OC Dugout Anaheim, CA 92804 (714) 527-6319 www.OCsportscards.com
Republic Jewelry & Collectibles Auburn, ME 04210-6150 (877) 422-7979 www.republicjewelry.com
South Bay Baseball Cards Inc. Lomita, CA 90717 (310) 530-5818 www.sbaycards.com
SportsCards Etc. McKees Rock, PA 15136 (412) 787-3235 www.sportscardsetcpgh.com
Steel City Collectibles McKeesport PA 15132 (412) 672-6200 www.steelcitycollectibles.com
The Hobby Box Wilmington, NC 28403 (910) 350- 2858 www.cardsinfinity.com

And if you live in Canada, make sure to check out these Authorized Internet Retailers for your Upper Deck purchases.

D&M Sports Cards in Canada is a huge retail sports store that also has a strong online presence.

Breakaway Sports Cards Hamilton, Ontario L9C 2Y6 (289) 755-0966 www.breakawaysc.com
Cardboard Memories Brampton, Ontario L6Z 1R3 (905) 846-1058 www.cardboardmemories.ca
Cartes Timbre et Monnaies Ste-foy Sainte-Foy, PQ G1V 4P7 (418) 658-5639 www.imaginaire.com
Clouts’n’Chara Kitchener, Ontario N2H 5G3 (519)-954-8278 www.cloutsnchara.com
Collector’s Avenue Montrea, Quebec  H3W 3C2 (514) 488-8881 www.collectorsavenue.com
D & M Sportscards Moncton NB E1G 1A6 (506) 852-3244 www.dmsportscards.com
Maple Leaf Sports Calgary, Alberta T2E-2T9 (403) 338-0668 www.mapleleafsports.ca
Red Nails II North York, ON M3L 1B2 (416) 242-7899 www.rednails2.com
Superstars Winnipeg, MB R3J 0H3 (204) 831-9001 www.superstarssports.com
Wayne’s Sports Cards Edmonton, Alberta T5T 1L6 (780) 483-3177 www.waynessportscards.com

The trading card industry was slower to adapt to the internet, but it is clear Upper Deck and others are using other industries as a blue-print for what works best in this digital age. I’m not sure what new online invention will be next to blow customer’s minds, but I’m sure it will serve to make the hobby better and keep the industry alive. How do you think the internet will change the world of sports card collecting next and how else to you think it has changed the hobby?

Make sure to look for the Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailer logo when purchasing sealed UD product online.

Sam is a young writer from Minneapolis, Minnesota. When’s he’s not watching sports he’s tweeting about it. You can follow Sam on Twitter @Chinookverify.

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The 2014-15 NHL® season is approaching and fans are fired up about the opportunity to score some of the first cards from the new Fleer Ultra Hockey set.  Recently we asked our fans on Twitter, “Tell us why you are excited to break some packs of this family friendly new release!” Here is some of what we heard:

Jamie McKenzie ‏@jmemcnz 

@UpperDeckHockey @NHL Would love to pull a Toews National Heroes card, those things look sweet! Also my new favourite base set to collect!

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Turk Behlmann ‏@DieselDugong 

@UpperDeckHockey @NHL Very excited. Pre-ordered two boxes and can’t wait to rip. Looking forward to those sweet inserts.

UltSportsCards ‏@UltSportsCards 

@UpperDeckHockey I really like the design of the subsets. Great job UD. We hit a 1/1 RC redemption feel free to send Ekblad

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Mazz ‏@iMazz25 

@UpperDeckHockey Oh my gosh I want a box of this product so bad

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What is really great about the 2014-15 NHL® Fleer Ultra product however is that it is perfect for parents to open up with their kids. As we have highlighted before, collecting hockey cards is a great hobby to allow parents to bond with their kids. With a low price point and content that has a little something for everyone, Fleer Ultra is a great product to share with the entire family. Share a pack with someone you love!

For those who are just starting to learn about the hobby of collecting hockey card, it is also the perfect type of product to get your feet wet with. If you consider yourself a beginner or intermediate collector, try some packs of 2014-15 NHL® Fleer Ultra and for more tips on getting started in the hobby, check this out!

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A big initiative in Upper Deck’s 25th Anniversary celebration is getting on the road and visiting hobby shops that have helped us be so successful over the last quarter century. Other than providing these shops with the Hobby’s best products, we support them with the best service and plenty of support. I recently did a round of surprise visits to some very loyal shops in the Pacific Northwest to talk to them about their businesses, the future of Upper Deck and of course to surprise them with some goodies to celebrate our anniversary.

It was a fun road trip to say the least. Here is who I saw:

Card Exchange
14020 Aurora Avenue North
Seattle WA 98133
Ph. 206-440-5467
Mon-Sat 10-8, Sun 10-5

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My first stop was the Card Exchange. Owner Ryter VonDiFloe was on-hand to talk about the hobby and his store. He has also been in the hobby since 1989 and this is his second store, having moved into this present building in 1994. Card Exchange is chock full of boxes and singles alike, of both the sports and entertainment card varieties. They have secured the neighboring business as a separate gaming area and they run tournaments five days a week. The overall square footage, including the gaming room, is a massive 3200 square feet!

Card Exchange prides themselves on sales and service and the best variety of sports cards around. They have over 6,000 different sealed box titles of different products, going back to 1986 launch dates. They sell on Beckett on eBay, and occasionally have autograph guests.  This is definitely a shop worth visiting if you are a sports fan or gamer!

World of Collections
22611 76th Avenue West, #101
Edmonds, WA 98026
Ph. 425-778-2678
Mon-Thurs 10-7, Fri 10-10, Sat-Sun 10-6

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Shop owner John Strazzara shows off some of the more popular Upper Deck cards & products in his store.

The layout of World of Collections is amazingly unique. It is split down the middle with sports dedicated to one half of the store and entertainment (comics & gaming) on the other half. They have been in business since 1986 and in this location since 2012. They sell all brands of sports cards, have display cases of must-see singles, a bevy of card supplies, licensed merchandise, memorabilia, pennants and sports novelties. Other cool items adorn the walls including signed jerseys of both Tony and Phil Esposito, and owner John Strazzara shared some stories about the famous hockey-playing brothers that I recommend you ask him about when you visit.

For the die-hard gamers, they sell board games, roleplaying games, card games, puzzle games, dice games, CCG, TCG, CMG and gaming supplies. They have graphic novels, magazines, comic-related memorabilia, t-shirts, figurines, toys and action figures. They offer a comic subscription service to their customers, and they hold gaming events in their store 2 days a week.

Mill Creek Sports Cards
15704 Mill Creek Boulevard, #5
Mill Creek, WA 98012
Ph. 425-742-8500
Mon-Sat 11-6, Sun closed

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Mill Creek Sports Cards has been open since 1991 and they specialize in certified authentic memorabilia. Owner Scott Mahlum states they house over 36,000 unique autographed items in their retail store, as well as trading cards and supplies. They have exclusive representation on memorabilia for players like Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Felix Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki. They have one of the largest collections of memorabilia I have ever seen, and it is impressively organized in their warehouse.

While there, I could see customers dropping off their items to be autographed by athletes who will be coming in for future signings. Their organized staff easily pick orders and they had a slew of fresh items packaged and awaiting carriers for shipping.

DJ’s Sportscards
1630 Duvall Avenue North East
Renton, WA 98059
Ph. 425-235-4357
Mon-Fri 11-7, Sat 10-6, Sun closed

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Shop owner Don Joss shows off an Upper Deck retailer award!

Owner Don Joss has a great family-owned store and has been collecting since 1985. He officially became a store owner in 1988 by buying out a portion of an existing hobby business, all while he was still in high school. His store has been in its present location since 1990. They have a ton of singles and sealed boxes, selling both in store and online. Their main focus has been sports from inception, though they have dabbled in beanie babies and other items during boom times. They do athlete signing on occasion, as well. DJ’s Sportscards boasts the most singles – vintage and modern. They buy a lot of collections of both cards and collectibles, and sell at reasonable prices to keep the rotation of inventory fresh.

DJs’ sells on eBay and Beckett, but their shop is definitely worth seeing and their service is excellent. Come and visit this family-oriented shop and check them out for yourself.

Pastime Sports and Games
20378 Fraser Highway
Langley, BC V3A 4G1
Ph. 604-530-5507
Mon-Tues 10-6, Wed-Thurs 10-10, Fri 10-midnight, Sat 10-11, Sun 11-9

Pastime Sports and Games
Central City Shopping Centre
Surrey BC V6B 6N9
Ph. 604-584-5507
Mon-Tues 10-6, Wed-Thurs 10-10, Fri 10-midnight, Sat 10-11, Sun 11-9

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I visited the Langley Store location which was awesome. Owner Ken Richardson has been working in card shops since he was 11 years old. He moved from doing shows in 1988 to owning his first store in 1990 and opened the Langley location in 1993, followed by the Surrey location in 2011. This store is packed full of product, with something for everyone.

For sports and sports card events, Pastime Sports has trade nights, group breaks in store, and occasionally set up at local hockey arenas for events. They have a tremendous amount of autograph guests that come to the store, many players being Hall-of-Famers. They also sell on eBay, Beckett, and Amazon.

Gaming has become a large part of their business and they run organized play for many product brands. What they really do well is events and taking care of their customers however. Recently they ran a Customer Appreciation weekend where they had live bands, barbecue, autograph guests, group breaks and the Langley Rivermen hockey team even came by with their mascot.

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So when you make your way up to the Pacific Northwest, make sure to pay these shops a visit! Let me know how it goes and if you’ve ever done a Hobby Shop Road Trip like this, let us hear about it!

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Another week has flown by, and it’s that time again! It’s Throwback Thursday! So let us go back through Upper Deck’s trading card history and come up with yet another exciting giveaway. We thought we would take this opportunity to highlight this epic LeBron James Rookie Card and throw it back to the start of his NBA career in Cleveland in 2003.

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Now let’s see if our fans can come up with some great captions for the card! Please share your comical caption to this card for your opportunity to score a complete 2014 NSCC exclusive card set! Because of all of the amazing participation the past few weeks, we wanted to reward the creativity of the fans and give away more prizes. So this week there will be 4 winners!

Important Promotion Guidelines:

  1. You can only submit one comment per email address so think about it before you post.
  2. Comments are moderated so keep them clean and in good taste as we have a lot of youngsters on these pages. Comments deemed inappropriate will not be posted or eligible to score card set(s).
  3. Make sure to review other caption before you post. If you have the same comment as someone else or make slight improvements to it, the credit will go to the first person who posted the comment.
  4. You have until Friday morning, September 5th at 8:00 a.m. PT to post your caption before this promotion is closed.
  5. Upper Deck will review the captions posted and select four (4) fans who most skillfully share a comical comment to coincide with this card.
  6. Only the customers selected to receive the card set will be contacted via email, so please make sure to provide an accurate email address when you leave your comment.
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