Westlake Village, California native Cassius Marsh was a high school star at Oaks Christian School. He was one of the top ranked defensive tackles in the entire country during his senior year of high school.
The defensive force took his quarterback hunting talents to UCLA where he was a collegiate standout, as evidenced by his selection to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.
The Bruin was selected 108th overall in the 2014 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks. During his seven seasons in the NFL, he’s played for seven teams and currently holds a spot on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster.
As dedicated and as passionate as Marsh is about football, he’s equally as dedicated and passionate to gaming away from the gridiron.
Not only is Marsh a successful professional football player, he’s a standout in the Magic: The Gathering world as one of the most recognizable faces and personalities in the hobby. The 6’4, 250-pound pass rushing specialist is actually a self-proclaimed “closet nerd” with a major passion for the trading card and game industry.
It was a life-long dream and goal for him to eventually open a card shop of his own and that time is now.
This week, Marsh and life-long friend and business partner Nick Nugwynne are opening Cash Cards Unlimited, a gaming and sports card collectibles shop in Marsh’s hometown of Westlake Village, CA. The physical shop is just a few minutes away from Marsh’s high school football field.
Cash Cards Unlimited will offer a variety of trading cards, including the aforementioned Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and various sports cards. Their business will even play host to the world’s largest collection of Chase Young rookie cards, to showcase their dedication to finding and collecting sports cards.
In addition to the brick-and-mortar store, CCU plans to have a significant online presence. Marsh will be the face of the organization as he looks to use his off-the-field time to grow the business.
We talked with him about the shop, his own six-figure Magic: The Gathering card collection and more.
Tony Reid– How did your dream of opening a hobby shop come to be?
Cassius Marsh-I have been a huge trading card collector since I was a young kid. We didn’t grow up poor but we didn’t have much. My collections were never really impressive but I absolutely adored my collection. I would go through my binders daily whether it be Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh! I was always super into it. I was at Friday night Magic (events) probably every day since I was twelve up until the time I left for college. To open up a trading card shop of my own is a huge dream of mine. It’s something that means the world to me. Being able to create something dope for the L.A. trading card community means a lot to me as well.
TR–Can you walk us through what day to day operations will be like at Cash Cards Unlimited?
CM– We are going to be doing a ton of live breaks. That will be a big part of our focus, to consistently stay on our schedule of live breaks. We will be doing sports cards-both basketball and football. We intend to add some soccer in there. We have had a lot of people suggest it and a lot of people looking for us to enter the soccer market. The soccer market blew up, I want to say about 1,600% from the numbers I saw. It’s ridiculous. We will see if it’s something our fans like and if so, we will go with it.
We will also do Pokémon consistently. I will be doing, personally, Magic: The Gathering on Friday nights. Right now Friday Night Magic isn’t really a thing with everything being shut down. We can’t sit in front of each other like that. I just want to be able to bring that Friday Night Magic feel to people when they are at home. So, I will be doing the Friday Night breaks during the offseason.
That will be our focus but beyond that, we will just be at the shop consistently grinding away. We are cracking cards. We are going to get a ton of Magic product in there that we want to crack. We will sell singles. It’s just fun. We are dealing with cards all day long, hanging out, and people coming in to the shop looking to collect or learn about the hobby. I get to hang out and educate people and help people have fun and hopefully make money, which is another great thing. I love the day in and day out grind of the shop. As an athlete, I think it’s really cool to be able to have a routine outside of my football and workout schedule. I get to incorporate those skills into being a business owner of a trading card shop.
TR–What is your fondest memory from all the time you spent in card shops as a kid?
CM-The one thing that sticks with me is the day that I found Magic: The Gathering. I was walking into a shop in my hometown. It’s called Hidden Fortress. It’s still there to this day. I walked in to the shop looking for Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. At the time they were really big. I had a decent collection. I was into it. I had a couple of friends I was playing with consistently. Any time I saw a card shop I would go in and check it out. I went in there and asked them if they had Yu-Gi-Oh! They said they didn’t and that they mostly carried Magic: The Gathering. I asked what is Magic: The Gathering? He said there were two guys at the table playing right now. He told me to take a look and see if I liked it. I watched these guys play for like 30 minutes and I just loved it. The arts were fantastic. The cards were dope. The interaction for the game was extremely complicated. It just looked like a ton of fun, man. I bought 11 cards that day. My mom gave me $5 to spend. The Rares were a dollar. Uncommons were 50 cents and commons were a quarter. It was over from that point forward.
I still have my Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon cards but my attention really zoned in on Magic: The Gathering and it never really deviated. I was committed to almost every Friday Night Magic from that point forward. I used to ride my bike to the card store almost any day I could.
TR– You aren’t just a businessman opening a card shop. You are a true collector that is super passionate about the hobby. Can you speak to that point of truly enjoying this great hobby and game?
CM-It’s something that really sparks joy in my heart and soul. When I am done after a long day’s work playing football or workouts I really look forward to going home and brainstorming deck builds for Magic or flipping through my collection and just truly loving collecting these cards and really loving the gameplay.
I have so many memories ted to sports cards and gaming cards. The nostalgia of it all, it really is something that feeds my soul. I know the market has blown up in a big way, which is great but for those who are coming into it from a pure investment standpoint, but I think that it can be a negative thing. I hope that they will even find their own passion for collecting because even though they might have come into it as an investment, I think that they will find their own passion for this hobby. It’s just a lot of fun. The people that you meet are always fantastic and it’s cool to be around them because they are passionate about it like you are. I’m super happy with where trading cards are right now and where they are headed. I’m just excited to see how big it can really get.
TR–On your website, one of the services you offer is that of advice for beginners. What would be your one piece of advice for a young person getting into gaming?
CM-If they are just getting into gaming, I would say to just enjoy it. Find your love for the game. Find your passion for it. Also, respect your investment. Protect your cards. To me, that is the number one thing. Protect your investment. Your parents are spending money. You are probably spending your own money that you earned or were gifted. Protect the investment so one day you will have some value. At the end of the day, I think that is very important.
TR–There have been numbers thrown out there about the value of your collection. The numbers are north of $200,000. In a nutshell, what does your collection entail to get you to that amazing number?
CM-I have just been deck building so consistently for the past three years. When I build, I only put tier cards in there. All of my cards are fully foiled and max rarity. That has been my brand within the Magic world. People call me The Foil King. My cards are completely foiled out and my decks are top tier and super competitive. I have had to go make purchases on all of these really high end cards. Magic cards, for the past 15 years, have been appreciating at the same level or faster than gold. So, I had no problem making these investments, no matter what I would at least be able to get my money back. The prices just continue to climb and climb and climb. Some of the older, more expensive stuff that I have acquired has continued to skyrocket, even over the past three years. I’m pretty sure the majority of that stuff has doubled. It was already expensive stuff to begin with! Magic is one of those untapped markets. There is a lot of investment opportunity. If you are a player it’s a great thing to be able to have a hobby that you can invest in and truly enjoy. That is something that means a lot to me.
In the league, the number one thing is to be smart with your money. The fact that I was able to have a hobby and do something I truly enjoy and know that my money was going to something with value was big for me. I think a lot of people feel that way. I have a personal friend of mine who worked for Wizards of the Coast, the company that makes Magic, he purchased a house in Bellevue, Washington in a top tier neighborhood with Magic cards. Now the value of those cards have doubled. He had Black Lotuses, the card that just sold for a million dollars. He had multiple copies of those. He could have bought ten houses now. It’s unreal. It’s bonkers to think that one piece of cardboard can pay for a home. It’s the reality that we are in right now. It’s a beautiful thing.
TR– It’s crazy because these items are seen as commodities but true collectors that have a passion for them won’t give them up. I think it was Ken Goldin who said recently that no matter the numbers of print runs, they are still, ultimately, limited and when some of these cards go into collections the collector would rather you cut their arm off than sell the item. It’s so funny yet so true. Do you feel the same way?
CM– Yeah, no doubt! It’s the perfect way to describe why these things are truly so valuable. Everybody is comparing it to the stock market. The growth has been unreal. It has been even more ridiculous than the stock market. The thing is, nobody cares about a stock. You would be happy to get rid of a stick if you are going to make money. It means nothing to you but a Michael Jordan rookie card that you’ve had since you were twelve years old? Bro, that means the world to you. You have probably thought about handing it down to your kid. Do I keep holding on to this or make the money off of it to spoil my kids for the next ten years? It’s pretty awesome. It’s a really cool world to be a part of and to work in. It’s just the beginning but I am having a ball with it.