Chris and I grew up in NC where the nearest MLB team was in Atlanta. The Durham Bulls were as big time as we could physically see and in "hunt country", collecting baseball cards was far from cool. I think back to why I started collecting and it was because my father took me with him to most places and when we stopped at grocery stores, convenience stores (you could buy cards outside of Target and Walmart then) he would buy me a pack of cards. When he had crazy money ($20) he would buy a box. To me, that made collecting as cool as it could be...because he liked it.
Today, with the select stores that sell overpriced blasters, rack packs, and scanned through boxes, only random purchases occur outside those that collect. We purchase all of our cards online or through Blowout's new store, and only when totally desperate, drive to a superstore to buy a box of cards we are sure to be disappointed by. This may sound like me complaining on a personal level, but I am more worried about the industry as a whole. Given we throw thousands of dollars into collecting, the industry overall needs to thrive for our collecting to be valuable...we collect to keep, but trust me the value still matters.
The only way for the card collecting industry to remain viable is to attract a younger generation. I have seen articles mentioning that the gaming industry has made card collecting not cool...I'm not buying it. All my friends did was play video games. It's not like video games came out in 2007. I've also read that baseball lost popularity...I'm not buying it. There are more teams, in more markets, on more TV stations, with players making more money than ever before. The problem is that the market got saturated with products that could not be deciphered and then has moved to limited product with over pricing. Both ways take kids out of the equation.
I would suggest promotions for fathers and sons (obviously this could be daughters too...should say kids as my wife's father collected and she was interested at one point...just typing from my own experience). Don't put kids cards in baseball card packs as Topps cannot compete with Nick Jr. or Marvel for youth branding. But, if you can make it valuable for fathers to bring their sons to shows, take their sons to card stores, or have promotions online, then the kid will see the father collecting and know that at least at home, its cool. Have a bring your kid to the store day for 2 for 1 pricing...margin will still be there.
I would even suggest, in addition to sponsoring events such as MMA, golf tournaments, and card signings, card companies and stores should do some community service and go to little league tourneys and give away a pack a player, go to the LLWS and have one-of-a-kind Bryce Harper cards only there, go to FedEx and have a RGIII promotion where only kids 12 and under can get a signed RGIII card...there are no costs involved and the increase in kids collecting would be immediate.
Or, we can just collect ourselves and in 50 years, and when we stop trading between ourselves (very little nursing home bartering), the cards will go back to bicycle tire noise...o, that's right, no more bicycles then.