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Inside Fanatics’ drive to conquer the $500 billion sports business – Source

Over Thanksgiving break in 2020, Fanatics founder Michael Rubin flew to Detroit to spend a day with StockX founder Josh Luber. It was just supposed to be two e-commerce innovators hanging out, with Rubin responsible for the just-in-time apparel juggernaut, and Luber behind the secondary market for hot sneakers and other coveted goods. Rubin wasn’t expecting their time together to fundamentally change his business. But then Luber started talking about the disjointed distribution process that underpins the trading cards business.

Trading cards companies like Topps make cards and sell them to distributors, who then sell them to retailers. And those retailers sell them to consumers, but some of those folks then resell their cards on eBay, often in a professional bit of market arbitrage after securing the most desirable ones. Rubin saw this as perhaps the least direct-to-consumer approach to what he thought should be a pretty direct-to-consumer business. He’d been researching and…

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