Running a sports card store put John Rogers in touch with a lot of people with stuff to sell. Little did he know that one purchase would launch a multi-million dollar business and a passion for preserving history.
He has a staff working around the clock here in the U.S. and in other countries to scan photos he's acquired from the nation's newspapers and other sources.
It all started in the card shop, though.
Twelve years ago, Rogers bought the negatives of a former Washington Times photographer, Don Wingfield, a freelancer who worked for Topps, The Sporting News, Life and Look Magazines, and the Washington Senators from the 1940s to the '60s. The newspaper contacted him later after learning he'd bought Wingfield's archives from a surviving relative because it was running a story on their long-time employee. Someone from Upper Deck saw the story and a $50,000 investment turned into a $350,000 windfall.
The rest is history. More collections followed, then the deals with newspapers.
He's got plenty of interesting stories about the hunt, the finds and the deals. The Arkansas Times has a lengthy piece on Rogers' remarkable business growth.