A man emailed us to tell us about his website . It's a website that helps people swap football stickers. It didn't strike us as having an instant correlation with London, but then we thought that there are people in London who buy sticker albums and fill them with little stickers.
We know some of these people. Some of these people might be us. One of these people might well have gone into a Woolworths in the summer of 2004 and told the cashier that he was buying twenty packs of 'Euro 2004' stickers for his little brother. A little brother who didn't exist.
We could understand this man's obsession, plus, we were impressed with his undoubted passion for his work. So we decided to write back to him and see what he had to say.
Identify yourself please.
I am Stefan from Switzerland and I am 33 years old. My hobbies are family, golf, fishing, skiing and since last summer also the stickermanager site.
Where do you live?
I live in Nänikon. That's a small town near Zürich.
What's Nänikon like?
Nänikon is a very small town. not much really to say about it...
Fair enough. We know a few places like that as well. Many people might scoff at collecting stickers and dismiss it as childish nonsense. How would you convince these fools that they are missing out?
Well, at least in Switzerland it's probably the other way around. You are an outsider if you do not collect stickers during the big soccer events.
I think it's good for kids because it's fun and they learn how to swap and how to give and take. For me I like the challenge of making "good" swaps. Isn't it fun if you can swap 1 sticker for 10 stickers?! It's all about a good strategy!!! Collecting stickers makes most fun if you try to finish your album with as little money as possible! Just purchasing new stickers until you have every sticker is definitely not a lot of fun!
Tell us more about your site. What made you set it up?
The stickermanager was born during the FIFA World Cup in Germany. I was collecting and swapping the Panini stickers as for every World or European Soccer event. On a rainy Sunday I was again a little bit bugged about my checklist. So I was thinking of how I could make my sticker management more effective. I started to build a very simple Access Database which I showed my colleagues at work the next day. They started to use to tool for their collections. One friend said "You should put this on the internet and make the tool available for everyone!" ... the idea was born! I then found young and motivated student (Matthias 19) who can code websites. Together we started to build the stickermanager.
After only two weeks the first release was online and people started to register and to use the website as their sticker management tool. First it was only possible to enter the missing and the spare stickers and with one click you could print-out your updated checklist.
Since we had great response very quickly we decided to add the swapping area. We developed a swapping site on which the system automatically finds the "best" swapping partners in your city/region. Looking back, I think that this add-on was the reason why the stickermanager became that popular so fast. After only a few weeks we had over 10'000 registered users. This without any commercials.
Does Matthias do all the work while you laze around smoking cuban cigars whilst scantily clad babes lovingly place stickers in your latest album?
That would be nice! Matthias is responsible for the application. He does all the programming and he makes sure that everything runs properly. Matthias does perfect work. He is just a crack!!! The stickermanager would not be what it is without him!
... and I do everything else...right now It would be nice to have a little more promotion in England, Italy and France. So I write a lot of emails and I answer lots of different questions.
Why should we use stickermanager? Surely it is more fun to swap stickers with people at school/work/prison?
The Stickermanager has three different features:
1) Sticker management and swapping aid for friends (work, school...)
Even if you still swap your stickers as before the stickermanager can be a very good help. First you always have your updated checklist and your list of your spare stickers ready. All you have to do is enter your stickers. In the menu "My friends" you can make a list of all your friends. You then see how many stickers they need and how many stickers you could swap with them. This is a great tool ... especially at work or in school !
2) Sticker swapping with others
On the swapping area you will find new swapping partners. This is very helpful for finding the last missing stickers. I also think that you can save a lot of money if you swap stickers efficiently. And you make new friends ... this should be fun too!!!
3) Charts - The most valuable stickers:
The Stickermanager is calculating the value of each sticker according to the law of supply and demand. The "market value" shows, if a sticker is rare or if a sticker is available very easily. The higher the market value the more difficult it is to find this sticker! This helps if you want to make clever swaps ;-) You will also see why you had a lot of Dutch players/stickers!
Are you involved with stickers on a full-time basis?
Not at all. The website is a hobby. And I want to keep it that way! I work for a Swiss Bank in the Risk Management department.
Our favourite album would be the Panini Euro '96, as that album conjures up some very special memories. Do you have a favourite?
I have lots of special memories with Panini stickers ... but since I started the stickermanager I would see the Germany FIFA World Cup album to be the one with the most favourite memories.
Which was the most valuable or rare sticker of that 2006 album?
That is the "Panini Jubiläums-Briefmarke" special sticker! Also the Nation Flags are top of the most valuable stickers. You can find the complete list here.
Some of our readers get very passionate about their sticker albums. This is what one of them, Tom from Stepney Green, wanted to ask you...
"The move towards Photoshop-ing players' heads on to kitted-out bodies HAS TO STOP. It's bad enough in principle (ripping off the kids) but what's worse is that it's so badly done! Some office lackey spends 5 minutes at the end of production for the album pasting the final 200 or so players' heads on crooked and with necks that are the wrong size.
It's a regretable development, is it not?"
I completely agree with Tom! The development is not good. Everything about the stickers should not be to business focused. It should be possible for every kid in school to have an own album. We also see that the stickers are getting more expensive (and sometimes with bad quality) every year. Together with bigger and bigger albums ... sticker collecting is getting really expensive. This is not good and I think that Panini and Merlin should be watching this very carefully.
... I hope that with the swapping events and the different swapping sites (like www.stickermanager.com) ... people can save a little bit of money.
Tom also had a problem where he and and the people he lived with purchased a communal World Cup 2006 album. Everyone got into the spirit of things and many stickers were purchased. However, some of the housemates were rather erratic in their sticking technique, resulting in some very messy-looking pages. How would you get across to these people just how important it is for every page of the album to look nice and tidy?
Well, I don't know. I think everyone should have their own album ... it's then up to you how you stick in your stickers.
That's a very neutral answer Stefan. How Swiss. What would you say is the most effective technique for placing your stickers in the album?
1) Open all your packs
2) Compare your new stickers with your checklist ... e.g. to Stickermanager checklist ;-)
3) Sort your new stickers by numbers
4) Stick in your stickers
But how should you place the stickers themselves? Top or bottom first? We need detail here!!
I would start with the end (because you have sticker number on the back)
What would be the funniest sticker you've ever seen? We are of course, thinking in terms of the most hideous face or ridiculous haricut.
This is Nuno Valente (FIFA World Cup Germany 2006). With his double chin he looks more like a friend from the pub rather then a professional soccer player :-)
... by the way: On the stickermanager you can also select your most popular sticker: Stickermanager.com is calculating the average sticker rating on a regularly basis. You will see which sticker is most popular!
Which nation rules the world at collecting and swapping stickers?
Very good question! I do not know. Several times I asked Panini to give me some details.... unfortunately no answer yet. I think that it's very big in Europe (Italy, Germany, Spain, France and UK). It's not very big in other regions. For example in USA people are collecting Trading cards rather than stickers.
Who would you guess leads the way though? Come on, stick your neck out.
In regards to number of sold stickers: I would guess Italy would win (remember that Panini is a Italian company). Germany, France, Spain und UK would be next.
Are there any stickers or albums that are especially valuable?
In general I think that the value depends mostly on the year. The older the album the more value. And then there are also big differences within one album... on our website you can see the list.
Have you ever been to London? What do you make of our fair city?
YES! I have been to London several times. I like to go shopping (even if it is very expensive) and to see the different people from all over the world. Then you also have many nice restaurants and pubs ;-)
I used to work for UBS and I still have some friends living in London. I am looking forward to visit London again soon!
What's your favourite place in London?
Well, I like the everything near Piccadilly Circus (but I am sure that London has much more to offer)
Have you ever been sick on the Tube?
If you could lose one part of London, which part would it be?
Sorry, no idea ... I heard that the new building called "the cucumber" is not really nice ...probably you don't need that building?!
What advice would you give to someone new to London?
a)Bring lots of money ...
b) don't invite your girl/wife for dinner .... it's going to be expensive!!!
c) go and see Roger Federer to win Wimbledon again :-)
d) read the londonist !!!!
Stefan, thank you very much for your time. You are a true gent and we wish you luck with your site.