After a long career in construction and landscaping, medical issues pushed collector Garrett Morris into a new career. He’d always wanted to own a hobby shop and the circumstances felt right.
Sixteen months ago, he opened Box Buster Sports Cards in Durant, Oklahoma. Three months ago, he and his wife opened a second location in Montrose, Colorado.
In this edition of Card Shop Q&A, we talked with him about his collecting background, the shops’ locations, challenges, his thoughts on the trading card manufacturers and more.
SC Daily: Tell us a little about the history of your store.
Garrett Morris: My mom is the one that got me into cards. She was a collector too, and I’ve been collecting ever since the early 90’s when I was a kid chasing Ken Griffey Jr and Nolan Ryan cards. I departed the hobby for a while I’m the early 2000s. I went to college, met my wife, and started a family. We have three kids together: 12 and 15-year-old sons and a four-year-old daughter. My wife is amazing and I couldn’t ask for a better life partner. She is a huge Raiders fan, participates and wins in fantasy sports, and collects with me as well! We started collecting together in 2015 after we bought a box and opened it together.
My boys were into Pokémon cards at first but they got packs of football cards for Christmas in 2016, and that opened up a whole new way to collect for them. They were super excited for their pulls and from that moment on, we were a collecting family.
I had previously been doing construction and landscaping work for 25-plus years before starting my shops. I had two back surgeries that pretty much forced me to find a new career path in 2021. I had kicked around the idea of a card shop for years, and with the circumstances at hand, I decided to give it a shot. I felt like I would always regret not at least trying it.
In August of 2021, we opened Box Buster Sports Cards in Durant, Oklahoma. Our name and logo is a play on the old movie and game rental store, Blockbuster. We are one of the only card shops between Dallas and Oklahoma City. We have had great reception from the community and have been in business for over a year now.
My wife is originally from Colorado and we knew we wanted to be back in the mountains. In July of 2022 we made the move back to Colorado with anticipation of opening another location. On September 1, we had our opening day for Box Buster Sports Cards in Montrose, Colorado. We are the only card shop on the Western Slope and the reception so far has been great here as well.
Since we have moved to Colorado, my dad took over the Oklahoma location for me. That in itself was a huge blessing. We are proud to say both locations are family owned and family run. My mom is a full-time school teacher but I’m summer time, I imagine she will enjoy spending time at the shop and helping run it as well.
SC Daily: If I visited your shops, what type of inventory would I find?
GM: We have a wide variety of cards and supplies available for our customers. From sports, to Pokémon, Magic the Gathering, even Star Wars, Marvel Cards, and more as well. We have something for every type of collector. There is a penny box all the way up to expensive graded cards, and everything in between. If there are any supplies you may be in search of to protect or store your collection, we have you covered there as well! Other services we offer are sending cards off to PSA for grading and authentication, online break and free price appraisals.
SC Daily: It’s a challenge to remain profitable and successful. Tell us a little about your business philosophy and some of the things you do that you feel any shop owner can and should do to acquire and retain customers.
GM: Prior to owning my own store, I was also a collector who would travel to card shops any time I could find them. I had many great experiences and many bad ones as well. When I would venture to other shops, I wanted to talk about the hobby and feel like the person helping me genuinely wanted to help and was pointing me in the right direction. If I had something of value, I would want an honest assessment. Those experiences helped shape my business model. We believe a personable experience, willingness to help, and an honest approach is the best way to go.
SC Daily: What’s unique about the area where you’re located and how it relates to your customer base, etc.?
GM: Our Durant, Oklahoma location is between Dallas and Oklahoma City off of US highway 69/75. When we first opened, we were the only authorized Panini retailer between those two major cities, off the highway. With tons of great people living in the area and surrounding communities, plus tons of traffic passing through Durant on a daily basis to commute, I thought there might be a need for a local card shop to save the hassle of long drives to either city.
The Montrose, Colorado location has some of the same benefits. We are the only sports trading card store on the Western Slope of Colorado. That means the nearest shop is in Denver, which is about a five-hour drive depending on weather. Our Montrose store is located off US Highway 550, about halfway between Durango and Grand Junction.
What is most unique about either location though, is the community of collectors we have accumulated and brought together. Our group is second to none in the quality of people involved and the support they have shown since day one. From some of the nicest people you will ever meet, to people that have vast amounts of knowledge in the hobby that they just enjoy sharing with others, to looking out for each other and ensuring everyone is having fun on their collecting journey. We would not be where we are today without each and every one of those special people!
SC Daily: What are the card manufacturers doing right to help shops succeed and what needs to be fixed?
: This is a GREAT question that is tricky with many layers in my opinion. First, I would have to break it down into manufacturers and analyze them individually because they all have different ways of going about their processes and day to day operations.
I’ll start with Panini. They have been the best to work with so far of the major manufacturers. From welcome kits, to Player of the Day Promotions, and great customer service, Panini has honestly been a lot better to work with than I originally anticipated. However, quality control has been my only issue with Panini so far. We have seen everything from damaged cards out of hobby boxes, to being shorted hits in hobby boxes. On the bright side, Panini has been very helpful when these situations have occurred and even above and beyond to make it right.
On the other hand, there is Topps, my least favorite of the manufacturers. To keep it short, I’ll share an experience I had just last week to give everyone an idea of why I feel this way.
A few weeks back Topps released a new product called 2022 Topps Cosmic Chrome. I ordered a case to be dispersed between both stores. I received the order from Topps and quickly opened a box to pack out and put in my case for customers. Being that this is a first year released product, I decided to open a pack to check them out. The first pack I opened had 2 factory damaged cards on the inside. No big deal. Things happen. Next pack will be fine. Unfortunately, not the case.
Next thing I know, I am four boxes deep into my case and every pack has had at least one damaged card inside, some packs multiple cards. I contacted Topps to see about sending the remaining boxes back with hopes of getting back a product that is not damaged. They were absolutely no help at all. They recommended I knowingly sell my customers the damaged packs and tell them after they pull the damaged card out that they can send it back to Topps for a replacement with all the necessary requirements. Not very ethical business practices in my opinion, so we opened every box and are sending the damaged cards back to Topps ourselves. We do not believe in knowingly selling customers damaged cards. Won’t happen at our establishment. Customer service and quality control would go a long way in my opinion.
SC Daily: What are some of the major challenges you face?
GM: Our biggest challenge would easily be product availability. It never seems like there are enough boxes available to go around to shops/breakers with the new high demand. I do think this is a good challenge to have though. The hobby took a major hit during the 1990s with overproduction. With boxes not being as prevalent, the hope is that we can prevent a repeat of previous history.
SC Daily: Tell us about a couple of the best (or most interesting) purchases you have made since you have opened the store
GM: There are many directions I could go with this question as it seems people tend to think we are a pawn shop at times. I have had people try to sell me everything from cars, to lawn mowers, fishing poles, plus tons of other random stuff. The one that comes to mind first is….Hot Wheels cars. I had no idea about them or their market. A nice gentleman brought some in and wanted to explain their value to me and how to find the good ones. I ended up buying about 100 cars from him at first, then about 200 more another time. We are not getting into this market, but they did move within one day of each purchase. It was very cool to learn and experience first-hand.
SC Daily: What are the specific products your customers love the most?
GM: Between both locations, NFL is easily our best seller. I was quite surprised when I first opened and NFL was taking the lead in sales. Prior to me opening the first location, NBA was the top market. I feel like the rookie classes have played a role in the spike. There have been more players to be excited about in the NFL lately, as far as young promising talent.
Our breaks are also very popular with our community. We usually have multiple options available between $20 and $50 to keep them budget friendly for our customers.
We have an official Pokémon League that meets at our Montrose location. We have about 30 people hanging out on those nights.
SC Daily: Any interesting or humorous moments you have encountered since you opened the store?
GM: Tons of both! There have been stolen collections brought in that we helped return to the rightful owners. My sons do the live events with me and I can’t count the numerous times we have cracked up with our community in the chats because of something they said.
Last year, my dad dressed up as Santa and stood outside our Oklahoma location and we invited people to stop by. We had a mom and son stop by. The kiddo got to meet Santa and tell him what he wanted for Christmas. Everything went great! They left and it was closing time, so my dad went to take the Santa costume off. Next thing we know, there is a knock on the front door of the business. We look up and it’s the lady that just left with her son. She had left her keys inside on accident so we got them to her and wished her a Merry Christmas. On her way out we see her son looking in the window with a shocked look on his face. He saw Santa in the back taking his beard and belly off…Whooooops!
SC Daily: What’s the best thing about running a hobby shop?
GM: Narrowing that down to only one thing would be tough. I would have to start with just saying how much of a blessing from the Lord it is that I even have this opportunity. I get to wake up in the morning and go to work doing something I love. Then on top of that, getting to share it and support my family from it is truly amazing. Then you have the people it connects you with! That is so special in its own way. From making lifelong friends, to making a kid’s day and seeing them smile from the joy of the hobby makes it all worth it.
How could anyone not answer this question without saying seeing all the cool cards and memorabilia that either get pulled, or brought into the stores. We have seen so many awesome items, from a Michael Jordan rookie card to Tom Brady autographs, and so much more.
SC Daily: Owning a hobby shop is a dream for a lot of collectors. If someone were to ask you about starting one, what advice would you offer?
GM: Do adequate research. Check for competition surrounding your potential location. Getting vendors nailed down is the toughest part. Go chase your dream and make it happen! You can do it with hard work and persistence. There will be tough days, but keep going to make it to the brighter days.