The hit movies were “A Few Good Men” and “A League of Their Own.” Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were building a dynasty. Nolan Ryan was still throwing fastballs.
In Scarsdale, NY, a young couple opened a sports card shop. Since then the name has changed, but next month, Mark and Donna Rubin will celebrate their 30th year in business.
In 2002, the store called One If By Cards, Two If By Comics became American Legends, which sells vintage and modern sports cards, autographed items and other collectibles in the shadows of New York City. It is among the hobby’s longest running brick-and-mortar stores.
“When we set out to open our store in 1992, we knew we were in it for the long haul,” Donna recalled. “We knew we wanted this venture to be our life’s work and we poured our hearts into the store every day.”
Both Rubins have always been passionate sports fans. They’re regulars at New York Rangers games and and have tried to make American Legends a sort of barbershop for sports fans and collectors.
“Who doesn’t love to talk about their favorite team or favorite card? said Mark Rubin, who has actually been buying and selling since he was a kid. “Sports fans are passionate and that translates into collecting cards as well. People remember their first pack of cards, the gum, the smell and those first players they got out of the pack. It’s a very powerful feeling.”
So is seeing a great customer pull a monster card. In early 2021, a 1/1 Babe Ruth signed card with two bat pieces from Topps Dynasty Baseball came out of a one-pack box. The card is worth upwards of $60,000.
They’ve also been able to latch onto some valuable collections, including a large group of pre-War baseball cards in 2015 and a single owner collection of Mickey Mantle cards from 1951-69 along with another 1952 Topps Mantle that graded PSA 7.
Surviving and thriving in business for 30 years is not without its challenges and American Legends has seen a few curveballs since 1992: the Major League Baseball strike in 1994-95; the terrorist attacks on 9/11; the stock market crash of 2008; and the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Any of these events could have forced a business to close but the Rubins adapted their business to change with the times.
“In business, you must be amenable to change to keep your company growing and thriving,” Donna said. “We’re fortunate that we had the foresight to roll with the punches and make the important adjustments when things didn’t go as planned.”
American Legends also sells online including through an eBay store with over 2,000 items listed.
The pandemic saw a huge boom in the trading card market and the Rubins say they’re grateful for their good fortune especially seeing the troubles of so many local businesses. “Every time we learned a small business was closing, we felt terrible,” Mark said. “At the same time, we counted our blessings that our industry was exploding. We don’t take this success this for granted.”
American Legends, located at 1107 Central Park Avenue in Scarsdale, is planning a three-day celebration beginning on Friday, November 11 and continuing all weekend with prizes, giveaways, special discounts and other events. Follow the store’s social media accounts on Facebook & Instagram for details.