FILIPINO sports memorabilia aficionados on the lookout for authentic signed items need not look further with the recent launch of online store Hall of Fame Authentics (HOFA).
Set up by collector friends Ron Uy, Stephen Songco, and Elvis Gutierrez, HOFA is specifically designed to cater to what the partners deemed to be an “underserved” local market for authentic signed sports memorabilia.
The online one-stop-shop (hofa.ph) was officially launched on May 23 at the NOVA Gallery in Makati and was greeted by much excitement by collectors.
“HOFA is a birthchild of my MBA. This was my final paper. I came up with a business plan for HOFA which I submitted in AIM (Asian Institute of Management). The professors looked at it and they said it is feasible and doable. So I made market research, industry analysis and all. I had a feeling it would click here so we came up with this,” said Mr. Songco in an interview with media on the sidelines of HOFA’s launch.
“In setting up HOFA, we partnered and submitted our business plan to Upper Deck, Steiner Sports, and other major sports companies in sports memorabilia. They saw there is a market here and that there is no one servicing that. Luckily we were given the approval to sell here in the Philippines. Buyers here can check it out that we are the authentic online sellers of these companies,” he added.
Mr. Songco further said that some of the items sold on hofa.ph come from their own personal collections but most are from their international partners.
“We are not just buying stuff out of the country and reselling them here. Whatever the retail price of an item that has Upper Deck on them, like say P100,000 landed price, we sell it here at P100,000. So we give buyers savings that way,” said Mr. Songco, adding that they are also offering flexible payment terms.
Basketball, baseball, boxing, football, golf, hockey, and football items are among those sold at HOFA.
Under basketball there are shoes, apparel, and gear by legends like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Wilt Chamberlain as well as those of still active players LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Ben Simmons.
Baseball has items from Ichiro Suzuki, Cal Ripken, Jr., Peter Rose, and Yogi Berra, among others, while boxing features items from the likes of champions Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
INTERNATIONAL… FOR NOW
Mr. Songco said that in the absence of an authenticating company in the country, their roster of items for now features only international sports memorabilia, but having Filipino signed sports items is something they are not discounting selling down the line.
“For now, it is purely international sports memorabilia. We don’t have PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) or Gilas [Pilipinas] memorabilia yet because there is no company here that authenticates items. Unlike abroad, if you have a shoe signed by Jordan, Upper Deck authenticates it. Here there is no one who authenticates, say, PBA or Gilas items. And that is one market we feel is being underserved. But it’s something we are looking at down the line,” said Mr. Songco.
The same goes for having a physical store for HOFA items.
“No physical store for now because as we all know it’s (signed sports memorabilia) a niche market here in the Philippines. So we’re testing the water first and see how the market goes. And besides, everybody is online. Everything is online. It’s easier to do business there,” Mr. Songco said.
Mr. Songco said the memorabilia market is big in the country but the market for the signed items is something they want to elevate.
“There are a lot of collectors here but the thing about sports memorabilia is there is a little market that knows where to get signed ones. But the memorabilia market is big. It’s like buying a rare Jordan shoe or jersey. But the signed ones that is our target market,” he said.
“People need to be educated first of the potential of collecting signed sports memorabilia. They have to understand this is a good investment because the value of the items only appreciates. Worse case to happen is you break even,” Mr. Songco added.
BusinessWorld Philippines | Michael Angelo S. Murillo | May 28, 2018