With annual sales of circa £44 million that grow to nearly £100 million in a World Cup year, you would be mad not to consider every opportunity to grow your sales from this fantastic news category sector.

Other than taking advantage of big sellers with attractive and bold displays or simply stocking them if your space is limited, one thing that you could consider is joining a growing number of independents who are now offering a swap shop “got got need” facility or event as a way to create a local USP, give something back to the community and to increase profits.

There are two main options available:

  1. Become a swap shop destination location
  2. Organise a swap shop event

You know your shop best and for many smaller shops simply becoming a destination swap shop may be the correct option for you. This simply means you offer a service whereby customers come to you with their stickers or cards (often their duplicates) and swap them for the ones they need.

Why would I want to become a destination swap shop?

Quite simply, collecting every card/sticker can be an expensive business and because of the nature of how they are produced and, in turn, purchased, consumers can end up with duplicates and can, unfortunately, become disgruntled through no fault of theirs or yours.

Research shows that if they could simply swap what they do not need, they would benefit hugely financially and, for many, this will result in them then completing a collection that they might have stopped collecting. As you have helped them, they are more likely to remember this and are more likely to come back to you to purchase more packets.

For you, there is an added customer who you could also be encouraging to make an ancillary purchase if you don’t have the card/sticker they urgently need.

If marketed correctly, this USP could lead to greater sales and would be a service you are offering to the local community.


NFRN’s guide to running a swap shop

Everything you need to know about running a swap shop.

What do I need to think about first?

Firstly, make sure from the outset you have a clear objective: Are you looking to sell extra packs or simply looking to give something back to your community?

Define what success looks like and commit the time and effort needed for it to be successful.

What do I need to get started?
1. Organise your club rules


  • Are you going to do it for all collections or just a certain one over a certain time period?
  • To get it started, are you going to Invest some of your own stock or could you perhaps ask the supplier if they will send you some free of charge*
  • Club membership or not? When explaining to customers that they may donate their duplicates cards/stickers to qualify, decide at the outset whether or not they need to make additional purchases and when.
  • Define how many swaps that they can give or take per visit and if informal IOUs are allowed. Remember to keep a record of what you have done as this will help avoid conflict, particularly if you are engaging with children who may visit without a parent.
  • When can swappers come to your store looking for specific cards/stickers? Do you need to set times or set days when you can manage it best? Ensure that in periods where you get very busy, such as school closing, that you:

i.   have sufficient staff
ii.  consider limiting numbers of schoolchildren in store at any one time
iii. check if your staff need to be DBS checked
iv. your health and safety  requirements are maintained

  • For ease, appoint a member of staff to look after the club and only operate from a secure and safe place in your store ( this will usually be at the point of purchase)
  • To ensure you are efficient, organise it securely and according to number – eg. 0-99, 100-199 200-299 etc.
  • Remember your goal  – even if you have the  same card or sticker already, our best advice is that you offer to swap and make someone happy.
  • After you have fulfilled their requirements always offer the person an opportunity to purchase further packets from you before they leave and consider a discount should a set amount of packets be purchased at this time.
  • Ensure there are plenty of associated products ( eg collection tins) and plenty of impulse items – drinks, chocolates etc in the area that you operate from

*You may need to register to get free stock and you may need to provide certain assurances and things in return.


2. Communicate


Depending on your physical space and the resource needed to ensure a success, consider using as many applicable communication channels available to you to help get the message out, but remember the scale of what you are trying to achieve and the effect that this may have on your current operation if you get a lot of interest.

Options include:

  • Social media
  • Window posters in your store
  • Flyers
  • Community notice boards
  • School notice boards – if they will let you
  • Local newspapers if not cost prohibitive

How to organise a swap shop event?

For busier stores or where collectables sell particularly well you may wish to set up one major event rather a club.

Why would I want to set up a Swap Shop event?

For many of the same reasons as a destination swap shop, organising a swap shop event/day will bring additional custom to your store and add in-store theatre and community spirit.

Make sure from the outset you have a clear objective: are you looking to sell lots of extra packs or hold a significant community event or both?

What do I need to do to get started?
Marketing the Event
  • Social media
  • Window posters in your store
  • Flyers
  • Community notice boards
  • School notice boards – if they will let you
  • Local newspapers, if not cost prohibitive
  • Local radio,  if not cost prohibitive
  • Be clear on event timings
  • Small print  – it is advisable to ensure not all cards will be available on any one day
  • Do not over-sell it
  • Have a plan to cover off opportunistic individuals who may take all your scarcest  cards/stickers in order to sell them on. You may wish to limit the number of swaps.
What is the process?
  • Swappers come to store looking for specific cards/stickers.
  • If you have it they will offer to swap one of their duplicates for it.
  • They may give more than one.
  • Ensure new cards/stickers are filed correctly.
  • Even if you have fulfilled their requirement it’s still worth offering them further packets in store to help their collection along.
  • Ensure there are plenty of associated products in the area where you will be doing this activity – also plenty of impulse items: drinks, chocolates etc.
What else should I consider?
  • Ensure you have plenty of stock of the collectable you are promoting.

Related content