Ramblings: Remembering H & H Hobbies
October 21, 2011 By
by Rich Klein
Taking us back into the hobby’s past has been a lot of work but it’s been worth it to read all of the emails I have received from either active collectors or people who were loosely associated with collecting in the past. Recently, I received a very nice note from Stacy Milones who mentioned how as a teenage girl in the 1980s her dad took her to the National Sports Collectors Convention each year as a vacation. One of the names she mentioned is actually someone I’ve traded cards with since the 1970s so we’ll talk about him at another point.
This time, though, I want to finish up talking about memories brought up in chatting with Ted Straka. Ted and I discussed some of the shows still extant in the New York Metropolitan area and we got to discussing the Garfield, NJ show. That show, run by Gary Sipos for at least 15 years has continued to truck along and is still fun to go to. I wonder if the reason the Garfield area has remained a hobby hotbed was the groundwork laid down by several stores, including H and H Hobbies.on the corner of Palisades and Belmont in Garfield, N.J.
Nearly twenty years after the store was first sold and then wound down, there are almost no records. I did a Google search and with everything I could do, I found almost no matches.of any sort. So except for those of us who remember hanging out at the store, there are no photos that I remember, no articles, nothing to indicate that a really fun baseball card store was once at that location.
H and H hobbies was run by Hans Jubelt and Sgt. Henry R. Davis. Their hours were Thursday and Friday 6-9 PM, Saturday 10 to 6 and Sunday Noon to 5. It was a truly a small neighborhood store, there was always a pot of coffee brewing, or sodas available in the summer and usually one or more of the customers would bring in 1-2 dozen donuts from Dunkin Donuts. I blame that for my lifelong addiction to Dunkins at this point.
The store was successful for what it was. One weekend, both Hans and Henry were not going to be available and I was asked to run the store for the weekend. I don’t remember the exact dollar amount but I believe the gross was $2200. And we were constantly busy. The store almost always had customers. There was rarely a time where no one was in the store. The locals loved to go and chat and some serious collectors would come in as well.
Hans ran his part of the store but the real star of the store was Sgr Henry R Davis. Henry, who by that time was starting to feel the affects of various health issues, still enjoyed everything about the hobby and the good that the hobby could represent.
Henry would have a “showcase” of current year rookies in a show case. If he was short on a player, he always would buy the card for half of what he was going to sell it for. He also kept older or better rookies cards in a drawer behind him. I would say he would average several hundred a week just on those nickel and dime cards.
In 1984 they were one of the few stores who had purchased what turned out to be a popular and somewhat hard to find Donruss product early and thus had a supply which lasted several months longer than most show dealers.
Some of their customers had great stories as well. One collector had the last name Luna, and he was working on a 1954 bowman set. He had built a decent amount but would not spend more than a quarter per card (Yes there was a time you could buy decent 1954 Bowman’s at a quarter).. The last card he ever got on his quest was a Memo Luna card which some fellow collector gave him just so he could have that card since the last name matched him.
Another collector was a nice man named Tony. At the beginning of 1984 Tony made the decision to go after the Rookie Cards for a young player from the New York area. Did he pick Darryl Strawberry? Did he pick Don Mattingly? No, he ended up choosing Jesse Orosco. Thanks to Mike Scott in 1986 he ended up doing OK with that choice but spent the next 10 years talking about how he missed his big chance to hit it big.
I also learned one of the great hobby lessons at that store. They had many kids (and some adults) who would bust packs and boxes looking for the big “hit”. In those days, the “hits” were all player related as there were very few inserts. So many of the people who came into the store would open boxes such as 1985 Topps and if they did not pull the Gooden or the Eric Davis or the Clemens or whomever was the flavor of the day, they would leave the rest of the cards on the counter. To this day I tell people the concept of leaving cards behind is nothing really new but has probably been going on since kids were trading 1933-34 Goudeys or 1939-41 Play Balls.
The other great highlight I remember immediately from those days hanging out at H and H was when a large number of 1975 Topps Mini boxes walked in. Hans put out the packs at $10 each, which was his cost. He later found out that the collector would not have minded if he made a small profit on each pack. Oh well, I enjoyed those packs. It was just nice to see if you could hit the big names and a whole bunch of the key rookies did come out.
However. the hobby changes, our lives changed and H and H hobbies was sold to Tom Shack in the early 1990s and eventually closed. I would hear from a fellow collector who went through H and H about once a year or so and kept in touch with many of them until I left Beckett.
Henry R Davis passed away 15 years ago and I did find Hans Jubelt’s obituary online. Hans passed on in 2010.
Much of my success as a dealer and even in life came as a result of hanging out at the store. I learned how a store could really become part of the community. I wish more stores could do that today (heck I wish we had more stores today) and I hope someone has some photos or more memories they could share about those days at H and H.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]