So over the weekend I stopped by a hobby store....to remain anonymous. I began thinking of all the hobby stores I have been in over the years, which is a pretty good number since I used to travel everyday. What stood out in my mind as a collective theme? Cleanliness and disorganization. Now as I write this I don't want to lump all stores into the same category because I have been in a few very good ones that don't fit this stereotype at all. So don't get me wrong I am not referring to those select few...I am referring to the 60-75%.
What would I do if I owned my own hobby store? First thing is everything would be very clean. This might seem simple but its the difference between not only hobby and mass but also in big box retailers. Walk into the big three or four box retailers and tell me how they rank in terms of cleanliness. Then I would almost be willing to bet you that the average ring correlates with the cleanliness ranking.
Second thing is everything would be organized. I would not have pizza boxes (5000 count boxes) sitting on top of display cases. I wouldn't have 1988 Topps wax packs scatter everywhere. I would keep sports together (I thought that was a no brainier but you would be surprised). It amazes me how many stores will have MLB here...then more MLB in a different part of the store. When I go online and click Toys then click Action Figures I don't expect kitchen tools, clothing, etc to mixed into that category. It pains me to see boxes of cards sitting everywhere. Now remember most hobby stores are very small and don't have a lot of room so organization is the key to maximize every square foot you have.
There are numerous other things but those are my big two. Now why did I write about this? I am a firm believer that for the industry to continue we need both mass and hobby to succeed. I enjoy going into a hobby store and talking cards with informative people. If we only have mass I highly doubt the high school kid making minimum wage gives two cents about the cards he is putting out.
I also think that hobby has not produced the way it should over the last few years and that owners got fat and happy during the hay day and now just complain that its someone else's fault. Once again the disclaimer: this does not apply to all owners. I think the biggest issue today in hobby is that there is a lot of behind the scenes crap going on. In a tough economy that becomes even more a daily operation. There is a lot of artificial inflating and deflating pricing that goes on. I see it every day...what happened to the day when a player's performance and charisma determined his value on cards?
So how would you run a shop? How would you clean up the hobby?
Once again DISCLAIMER: This BLOG did not apply to all owners and I am sorry for offending anyone, but sometimes the truth hurts!