The Loot Locker
Founder Joel Ritchford has been collecting since 1985-1986. He bought his first pack in 1985 but the hobby didn’t talk a hold of him until 1986 when he started trading with friends in school. After being around the hobby for 30 years, Joel decided to start an online venture in the card world called The Loot Locker. The Loot Locker is a monthly box shipment of sports card hobby packs and other hobby extras. I recently spoke with Joel to find out more about The Loot Locker.
BU – Hello Joel, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. I’ve seen a lot about The Loot Locker on Twitter and have heard you on a couple of industry podcasts discuss the product. It is a very interesting approach to purchasing cards and I love the concept. Can you tell us a little about how you came up with the idea?
JR – Certainly! The Loot Locker all started because I had heard from fellow collectors over the course of a few years that they didn’t have any options to get hobby packs or cards and that the blaster boxes or online breaks were the only less expensive options available in the absence of a local card shop (LCS). I was hearing this online and in person from many collectors. The idea came to me one night while waiting for an online break I was in. I wrote the idea down and just kept working on it. I was battling a pretty severe nerve issue at the time so I had plenty of time to brainstorm and figure things out; so that’s what I did. Once I started to heal, I put the idea into action and have been going ever since.
BU – That makes a lot of sense. I hear from fellow collectors often that their nearest LCS is sometimes a couple hundred miles away. And many of those collectors are skeptical of retail options. What can collectors expect when they purchase a Loot Locker?
JR – In each Loot Locker, you get hobby packs which are chosen each month by collectors voting at the beginning of the month from all over social media. I also include some Ultra products and candy if you are in the USA. One out of every ten boxes contains a bonus autograph, relic card or autographed relic. One out of twenty-five boxes includes an extra hobby pack. And the biggest hit available is an entire hobby box which can be found one in every two hundred boxes! Those are the minimum but I usually do more. We offer Loot Lockers in Baseball, Football, Basketball and hockey. There are 3 price options for Baseball and Football; $20, $30 and $50 each plus shipping. For Basketball and Hockey, we currently only offer the $20 option but will be adding other options for them as well very soon.
BU – Awesome! Do you have a particular spot that you find to be more popular than others?
JR – Football and Baseball are definitely the most popular. I usually sell 3-4 times as many of those boxes as compared to Hockey and Basketball.
JR – I keep a Hall of Fame list on my website but I need to update it with the most recent pulls. There have been sooo many great cards pulled and I love it!! There have been Michael Jordan autographs, tons of 1 of 1’s like a Superfractor Todd Gurley from Topps Finest. I have seen printing plates and cut autos as well. Some of the autos have included Aaron Judge, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Kris Bryant, Andrew Benintendi and Cody Bellinger. There have also been several Hall of Fame autographs pulled. Every month, the list of big pulls just keeps getting bigger and bigger!
BU – Well, that definitely sounds like it solves a problem for collectors who can’t find a hobby! What is the process for packing and shipping the lockers?
JR – Each month after the orders close (typically on the 24th of the month), I begin my shipping process. I prep as much as I possibly can with the candy and supplies. I pre-fold boxes earlier in the month before the close of the orders so it is a lot faster to ship out. Once orders are closed, I go over the numbers for the month, add the right amount of bonuses I need, fill the lockers with packing peanuts and seal them. Then they are shuffled and restacked. The Loot Locker labels go on them and shuffle and re-stack again. I want to make sure everything is completely random and fair and there’s no way I or anyone else could know what anyone gets until they post their mail day. After that is done, I sit in my office with my coffee, grab my order sheets and start mailing via USPS. I work as hard as I can and for as long as I can to get them out as soon as humanly possible.
BU – That sounds like a lot of hard work but your customers seem to appreciate it greatly on social media. What would you attribute as the main reason people love The Loot Locker?
JR – I can’t speak for others but I know what I hope they feel about me and The Loot Locker. I hope they feel it’s honest and fair. I believe that is what will make sure I am around a long time doing this and I take great pride in that as well. I also hope they see my passion and loyalty for the hobby and the good people that are a part of it. Some of the best friends I have are because of this hobby.
…have you ever thought about expanding to retail stores?
BU – Amen to that Joel! I understand that you have worked in some giveaways from time to time. Can you tell us about that?
JR – I’ve done a few giveaways and I think I have just as much fun doing them as the person who wins them! I have done Locker giveaways for Youtuber Shows, Podcasts and sometimes just for the fun of it. I’ll do one on social media for cards or packs or Lockers. In fact, now that we have talked about it, I’m going to have to find something to giveaway on Twitter or Instagram or maybe both!
BU – I’ll be on the lookout! This is probably a long shot because of the whole reason you started the business but have you ever thought about expanding to retail stores? Or are there any other changes or innovations you see on the horizon?
JR – I don’t see it ever changing to retail in any way. It wouldn’t be the same and I really love how personal it is being a small one man company. I am always thinking but I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing. I have learned to accept it though; LOL. I am going to add the $30 and $50 options to Hockey and Basketball soon and I have some other ideas I may test out.
BU – It’s been a blast talking with you about The Loot Locker and you obviously have a strong passion for the hobby and what you do. In closing, what are your thoughts on the state of the hobby today?
JR– Thanks for having me! I think the hobby is at an exciting but sensitive time. The card companies have had issues with redemptions and quality control that have made some collectors step back a little. I think as long as they stay aware and make sure that these issues are addressed and not happening in the future, it will be fine in the long run. Social media can be a great tool or a crushing hammer. Word of mouth can spread faster than ever and if it is negative, it can spread like wildfire and be just as damaging to your company or reputation. The Dak auto-pen debacle is a prime example. That issue was everywhere in no time and even people who had no interest in collecting knew of it due to the outcry from collectors on social media. It brought national attention to the issue. Companies have to make every effort to avoid those issues in today’s technological age. We can keep the hobby strong, healthy and popular by keeping kids involved and having fun collecting. I also think working to be positive members of the hobby always helps add joy and gives more life to it. Find places to donate time, or maybe some cards to donate to kids and when you see a kid at a show, talk to them, involve them, ask them who they collect and share knowledge if you can.
BU – I couldn’t agree more Joel. Again, thanks for your time and best of luck with your continued success!