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A Tom Brady Desktop Standee

Photo File Gives It the Old College Try
Licensed Collectible Giant Continues to Diversify with Collegiate Football Product September 19, 2006

Is there a recipe for success in the licensed collectible market? The folks at Photo File sure seem to have hit on one. In business for nearly two decades, the company is the world’s largest manufacturer of licensed sports photography, boasting relationships with MLB, NFL, NBA, WNBA, and the NHL among others. According to VP of Sales Russell Rafael, Photo File keeps it simple.

“It’s always a changing market,” he says. “People want something new. As long as you have different teams winning and new rookies getting hot, you will always have demand. One of the keys to our success is that we stay diverse enough to provide product for all classes of trade.”

A Milestones & Memories piece celebrating A-Rod’s 350th home run

For 2006, Photo File’s diversity has meant a big push in college football product. “We’ve combined with the NFLPA to offer a whole line, including framed and matted photos,” explains Rafael. “We’re talking current and retired players from their college days—Joe Namath at Alabama, Dan Marino at Pitt, and Vince Young at Texas. This line is really starting to kick in.”

Another new market for Photo File has been photos emblazoned on ceramic tiles. Rafael reports that desktop standees have sold particularly well. So, too, have pieces from the Milestones & Memories collection. “Originally, these were event driven items,” says Rafael. “But we got input from customers who wanted us to expand into other areas. Now, for instance, Milestones & Memories are available for most baseball players.”

A Bon Jovi ceramic tile

Speaking of expansion, Photo File is also finding a receptive audience in non-sports collectibles, including the music world. “There’s a big crossover for sports fans with performers like Bon Jovi and Elvis,’ says Rafael. “Our penetration with sporting goods retailers like The Sports Authority and Modell’s has always been strong. Now we’re moving to other retailers like ShopRite and Walgreens. Hobby stores are a great market, too.”

As Rafael sees it, the growth of the licensed collectibles market will continue across the board. “You have young players like Sidney Crosby of the Penguins who are extremely popular,” he says. “There are new teams like the White Sox, Heat and Steelers winning championships. Combine that with the fact that Photo File distributes nationwide and has product that retails from a few dollars to high-end custom pieces in the thousands, and we’re very excited about the future.”



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