National Hockey Card Day a Big Hit at Barrhaven’s Wizard’s Tower

While Wizard’s Tower in Barrhaven is usually packed with gamers involved in Magic: The Gathering tournaments or other such card games, there was a large number of local residents coming into the store for free Upper Deck hockey cards.

Sports card shops across Canada, plus many stores in the United States and internationally are participated in this year’s promotion. For many collectors and hockey fans, it was a chance to get a free card of Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard.

The annual promotion provides an opportunity for hockey fans to go into their hobby shop to pick up a free pack of cards courtesy of Upper Deck. This year’s National Hockey Day set includes NHL stars, NHL legends, NHL rookies, as well as mascots.

In past years, the cards have been popular but serious collectors have shown little interest in them because of mass production. Where the promotion has been successful, however, is in attracting fathers and their children into the stores. Many fathers who may have collected during the trading card boom of the early-to-mid 1990s often take the opportunity to bring their sons and/or daughters into local hobby shops for a free pack of cards to introduce them to collecting.

“We had a lot of people who visited the store for the first time today,” said Dave Tellier, who has owned Wizard’s Tower in Barrhaven, Ontario since 2005.

On any given weekday evening and throughout the day on the weekends, Tellier’s store is packed with close to 100 people playing in gaming tournaments. His store has a couple dozen employees. Last year, his store got back into carrying hockey cards.

“Through the years, we had decided to specialize on the thing that made our store popular,” Tellier said. “We have a huge customer base for Magic, and we eventually got out of comic books and sports cards because we just didn’t have the space. Last year, we got back into hockey and carried Upper Deck products. We have some singles in our case, but we focus on packs and boxes. We don’t carry any other sports, just hockey.”

Tellier said that Bedard has elevated his store’s hockey business.

“This is the first year we have participated in National Hockey Card Day,” Tellier said. “We really didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised how many people specifically came into the store for the promotion.”

Tellier, along with several hundred other store owners in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, were all hoping for the same thing. The promotion was an opportunity for people to become introduced or re-introduced to hockey card collecting.

This year, with the excitement of Chicago Blackhawks superstar rookie Connor Bedard in the hobby and his inclusion in the National Hockey Card Day set, there was more interest than ever in Upper Deck’s giveaway.

Some collectors have already complained on social media that their local hobby shops are only giving packs away to collectors who have made a purchase in their store. Upper Deck reiterated that these packs were provided to hobby stores to be giveaways, and that every person coming into their store should have been given a free packs of cards while supplies lasted.

Bedard cards were up on ebay for buy-it-now sales. Most were selling in the $7-$10 range. It will likely be at least a month before graded Bedard cards appear for sale via auction. With the Toronto Spring Sport Card and Memorabilia Expo taking place in late April and with the show expected to be dominated by live grading and grading submissions, the Bedard National Hockey Card Day cards and other Bedard rookie cards and inserts are expected to bring dramatic spikes to population reports and trigger the number of live auctions.

“Most of the people who came in for the promotion were excited about the chance to get a Bedard card,” Tellier said. “He has really driven all of our hockey boxes this year. We have received our allotment of Upper Deck’s hockey products this year, and Bedard’s rookie cards and inserts are driving demand.”

Most Canadian hockey dealers have said that the last time a rookie had this much hype in the hobby was when Eric Lindros was a rookie more than 30 years ago.

In addition to luring people into hobby shops, Upper Deck’s retail partners also participated in the event.

Select locations of GameStop, Toys R Us, Hockey Life, Hockey Experts, L’Entrepot du Hockey, Sports Rousseau and the Hockey Hall of Fame gave away special nine-card sheets from Upper Deck. There are three different sheets featuring 27 card images.

Upper Deck has a Facebook page dedicated to National Hockey Card Day.