While it might not have the same type of impact of the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the consolidation of GameUsedUniverse and GameUsedForum will likely leave those utilizing the new-and-improved site feeling like they’re now getting the best of both worlds.
After unleashing previously unobtainable information with its launch of GameUsedUniverse.com this summer, the site, which features anything and everything regarding the game-used memorabilia niche, has now combined forces with GameUsedForum.com in an effort to provide its subscribers with the most comprehensive coverage the hobby has ever offered up.
“GameUsedForum and GameUsedUniverse were both created with the single-minded objective of benefiting the game-used community,” GameUsedUniverse.com CEO Christopher Cavalier said. “We are both so passionate and like-minded regarding our love for the hobby that it seemed natural to work together.”
GameUsedForum.com creator Eric Stangel had been involved in the hobby for more than 20 years and felt a need to provide fellow game-used memorabilia collectors a place to share their knowledge and experiences.
“I started getting into game-used jerseys about 10 years ago after attending a show in White Plains,” Stangel said. “I had questions about what I had seen, but there weren’t outlets to answer them. I wondered if there were people in the same situation. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to determine what was real and what wasn’t.”
“I started up the website in January 2005 because I knew there were collectors and dealers out there who had knowledge on this subject and in very specific areas within the hobby, but for whatever reason, the people hadn’t gotten together,” Stangel said. “What better way to inform each other than by talking in the same forum?”
While combining the two sites has many benefits for users, Stangel believes its most valuable asset may be the opportunity for collectors to interact directly with the those validating their collectibles.
“One important thing the forum has done is to provide a place where collectors can interact with dealers, auction houses and maybe more importantly, the authentication services,” Stangel said. “Since the site has been up and running, users have been able to ask – for free – specific questions to the authenticators who provide many letters to many of the items being circulated on eBay and in the auction houses. With the direction the hobby has taken, it’s necessary that auction houses and authenticators make themselves available to answer consumers’ questions to help them make informed purchases.”
Respected game-used dealer Rob Steinmetz came back from this year’s National Convention in Chicago and, after meeting Cavalier and hearing what was planned for GameUsedUniverse, he tracked Stangel down. Steinmetz could see the two had the same goals.
Cavalier and Stangel met over the phone and discussed the current state of the game-used niche, quickly deciding they should join forces.
“By creating GameUsedForum, Eric has been a pioneer in the segment and has provided an invaluable asset to the hobby,” Cavalier said. “I watched the forums grow through Eric’s efforts and thought, 'This guy is fantastic. Wouldn't it be great to join forces with him in our efforts to help the hobby?' After a number of discussions, we knew the alliance would create something remarkable.”
For Cavalier, the partnership was a perfect fit.
“GameUsedForum and GameUsedUniverse were both created with the single-minded objective of benefiting the game-used community,” Cavalier said. “We are both so passionate and like-minded regarding our love for the hobby that it seemed natural to work together.
So now when visitors go to the GameUsedUniverse site and click on “Forums,” they get access to the GameUsedForum boards which enables collectors to discuss a variety of topics including game-used memorabilia, items wanted and items for sale, along with items currently available via auction.
In the past, those seeking clarification from auction houses or authenticators would often have their questions fall on deaf ears. Whether it was a matter of having a tough time getting through to the desired representatives or simply a case of a lack of general customer support, collectors have been searching for answers to their questions for years and now they have an all-encompassing symposium that is designed meet all of their needs.
According to Stangel, “Collectors have realized they are entitled to answers, and dealers, auction houses and authenticators are accountable.”
While the new alliance is being met with open arms by collectors, Cavalier insists the revisions made are just the tip of the iceberg. “We are rolling out a new, top-of-the-line user interface for the forums with added benefits to the members,” Cavalier said. “Forum members now have access to the experts in GUU’s Experts Corner as well as other benefits available in the GUU Hobby Network. And that’s just the initial roll-out. We have more exciting features planned for forum members in the months ahead.”
For Stangel, providing collectors with an alternative course of action and hearing the positive feedback after a situation is resolved is more than enough to make him feel his efforts were worthwhile.
“There is nothing better than seeing people’s postings with success stories about how the forum helped them,” Stangel said. “I was personally able to get back $13,000 because people on the forum showed me I had bought bad merchandise from a dealer who was doctoring items. Others have had the same results. People have been able to share their items from their collections in a way that has never been available before. And with the sections being offered by GameUsedUniverse, it’s going to be better than ever. This is a great time to be a game-used collector.”