Over the last few years, products that arent created by any of the big group of manufacturers, have been on the rise. These products are often built by collectors for collectors, with a focus on highlighting the best of the hobby in every way. Whether its the big hits you have always wanted to pull, or autographed memorabilia you would love to put in your man cave, these products showcase the stuff PC centerpieces are made of.
Heroes of Sport is a product that I have latched onto, mainly because of its focus on delivering the highest end collectibles. Their newest product Iconic Heroes, Chapter 1 was recently released, and has generated some amazing pulls in its first few weeks. Add these onto an already impressive brand full of amazing stuff, and its a recipe for success:
With the scope of my collection focusing on obtaining the most valuable items I can get for my favorite players, it should be no surprise that I am a fan of the HoS brand. I had the chance to meet Will Jaimet, founder of Heroes of Sport, recently at the Chicago National Convention, and I was impressed with his knowledge of the industry. He also happened to be carrying around a bag full of some of the most incredible stuff you have ever seen.
Here is the great thing. We are entering an era of the industry where collectors have taken it upon themselves to change the landscape of the hobby rather than just talk about it. Jaimet seems to be one of those people, who wasnt satisfied with the status quo and has committed his time to change it. Any time I see that evident in a brand or new venture, I like to reach out. Will was kind enough to answer a few questions, which after reading his responses, look like there are some great things to come for Heroes of Sport. They have developed a cult following with each of their products, and the people who buy have nothing but amazing things to say about their experiences.
Thank you to Will for all the time he spent answering the questions.
Sports Cards Uncensored: For the people out there who don’t know, what is Heroes of Sport?
Will Jaimet (HoS): We believe that we create the finest unopened box opportunity in the hobby. We specialize in rare and highly unique cards and memorabilia that many people don’t know exists. Our sealed boxes contain 4 items that are a combination of cards and redemptions for memorabilia. We feel that if you get a memorabilia redemption, you deserve to have it ASAP, so we try to ship the same day redemption codes are entered into our system. We want you to have the item as soon as you possibly can.
SCU: What got you into this line of making a product?
WJ: Growing up, I opened a ton of wax. I started as a high schooler in the 1996-97 era when all the companies started serial numbering cards and putting in autographs. I opened so much over the years, that I feel that I can “sit in the shoes” of someone who busts wax. I know how painful it is when you miss, and how much of a rush it is when you hit something you love.
In 2006 after leaving college, I started buying and selling for a living. We have been incredibly successful buying below market values and selling for more. I am buy nature a pretty creative person and I started thinking that if I could accumulate large quantities of the finest collectibles below market value, I could then put them into a product line that would have a retail value of the sale price or more as a whole. This is more challenging than I originally anticipated because of manufacturing costs, employee costs, redemption Fedex costs, and the cut distribution takes. However, I think with our newest release we are at that point. We’ve been able to streamline our systems of operations, improved how we buy, and basically are getting more connected in the industry.
SCU: Of the last 3 products you have done, what was your favorite thing you put in the boxes?
WJ: It’s too hard to pick just one, but 2 of my 4 favorite items haven’t been pulled yet from this product, after they get hit I’ll let you know. The other item I love which hasn’t been pulled either, but we decided to market it is the 1988 Summer Slam worn Hulk Hogan boots from his match against Andre the Giant. These boots are so cool because they are iron clad 100% legit. When I bought them about 6 months ago, they were signed “These are my real boots, with my real blood, that I wore at MSG”, and they even have his chewing gum in the laces. I was completely in love with them the moment they arrived. Then about 2 weeks ago, a friend of mine was going to be with Hulk and I overnighted him the boots to show Hulk. He said that when he showed him, he was completely floored, instantly remembered them, and it brought back all the memories of that iconic night. Hulk offered to do the video talking about the boots and if you haven’t seen it, it’s truly remarkable. I love the level of authenticity, and it will be hard to ship them out once they are redeemed. My other favorite item was from All-Sport, which was Babe Ruth’s personal life insurance document. I love personal pieces from legends. Anything with a story behind it is what I think has the most investment potential.
SCU: What are some of the upcoming plans you have for the HoS brand?
WJ: We just continually strive to be better. I am incredibly blessed to have a team of people around me who pour their hearts into this. We all rise early and grind until late and strive for our own highest level of personal greatness. The better we can become on every facet, from operations, to customer service, to sourcing the best material in the hobby, the better experience our customers will have. I grew up in this industry and won’t ever leave it, and will never do anything to hurt myself as a personal brand. If there comes a time where people don’t absolutely love to open our products, then I will shut it down. To be frank, me and my team can make a living doing anything in this hobby. We are only going to pour our hearts into Heroes if our customers love what we do. So far, that is the case, and we won’t get lazy or stray and hopefully the enjoyment continues to grow from here.
SCU: How do you see products like HoS changing the way collectors buy into the hobby? There seems to be a growing trend of wax being generated in this fashion.
WJ: I think there will always be a need for brand new products to be created by Panini, Topps, and Leaf. I think a couple years ago, the newer wax started to loose some of it’s luster, but the 2012 Football class got everyone excited again. I also feel that Panini has been incredibly innovative over the past year and a half. The National Treasures baseball product they made was amazing, then Flawless and Immaculate basketball came and changed the game. I love the time and care it must have taken to build both those basketball products. Being on this side of the fence, I understand how hard those guys have to work over there, and I truly respect it.
I think our products are a different breed, and don’t necessarily compete with them. The thing I love about our product content is that most of the items you can pull are stable in value. With newer releases, if something goes wrong, cards can quickly lose their value. The majority of what we include has an established price point that most likely will either appreciate or maintain in value. This gives our customers a chance to hit something cool, hold onto it for a while, and then be patient if and when they decide to re-sell it. With our newest release, we are getting a lot of new registered users on the site every day and I feel that the demand and our reach is spreading rapidly.
SCU: Do you foresee a higher end focus being the continued direction of HoS, or will there be ways for lower end collectors to get involved too?
WJ: There is a lot of demand for us to do a lower price point product. I completely understand where people are coming from, but it honestly scares me to make one. The reason we make the higher price point product is that I can be laser focused when I buy. We MUST buy at wholesale levels or our products will be weak and a gimmick instead of something people can be proud to open. When I am buying higher end items, I can do research and be methodical to avoid paying retail for items. This is something I feel that I can be the best at as I have a strong knowledge of everything from the 1800′s to the newest cards being produced today.
There is a large fixed cost that goes into producing a product from scratch composed of graphic design, manufacturing, and labor. To be able to cover that, you have to do relatively large releases to make it work. This is why doing a lower price point worries me. Say for instance we wanted to do a product that was $99 a slot (which we might at some point), we would have to acquire at least 3,500 – 4,000 items. If we were scrambling to buy, it would be very easy to overpay for lesser priced items because it would be hard to know what it’s all worth. If we started putting cards into the product that we thought were worth $100 and collectors were selling them and getting $70-$80, the product wouldn’t be a good deal. When I’m focused on buying $1,000 items, I don’t make mistakes, and that’s why I think a higher price point is a much better option for our customers, and we will never burn them.
SCU: If there is one thing you want collectors to know about HoS, what is it?
WJ: Our business plan is long term. We’re not trying to make a quick buck and hurt people. We have no shot to build something special unless the people who buy our products are truly happy. We are striving to be the best company in this hobby. Every item I buy is something I would enjoy owning. Every time I build a case, I try to imagine how I’d feel if I opened it. Every time we interact with a customer, I try to think; If I were them, how would I feel I deserved to be treated.
We genuinely love this business. All I have ever known is this hobby and I think it’s the coolest thing in the world. I love how in this era of collecting and social media, you have to be a stand up businessman or you’ll quickly become an outcast. The guys who work for me give it 120% everyday, and no one is going to out work me.
SCU: Any closing comments you have or anything else I havent covered?
WJ: I am about to start a blog and want to share with people some of what I know about collectibles. I want the hobby to get a better understanding that just because something sold somewhere for a certain price doesn’t mean that’s what a similar item is worth. People who hit items from our products always ask me “What’s it worth”, and my reply is “Who is going to sell it, where is it being sold, and how is it represented”. A lot of the sports cards and memorabilia we deal in are relatively unique, and if they are misrepresented or not marketed properly they can sell for fractions of what they should. It makes me sick to my stomach when I see our customers sell items in a fashion where they get less than they should, as it under delivers our brand. I think people should study the game more. With the internet, you can learn so much about collectibles. Research items and try to see why certain sellers get more than others. Learn where the best market places are, what key words need to be used and which ones shouldn’t, use the highest quality images possible, tell a story when an item deserves it, etc.
Heroes of Sport can be bought through most of the major group breakers, as well as some of the large online retailers. You can find information on where to buy at www.heroesofsportinc.com.