I had a really great conversation with an old friend this week.
Yes this is Shop Talk and yes this does concern the business of running a card shop…to a degree.
Fresh out of college, JM and I worked at a big box retailer in State College PA. I won’t say the name of the retailer but it’s the big blue one that starts with wal and ends with mart.
We came in to the company at nearly the exact same time as store management trainees and quickly became friends as well. We had the common interest of sports and more importantly sports card collecting.
We often had similar schedules and although it was retail management we did manage to get away from the store once in awhile.
At one point, I told my new buddy about a card shop that was near my old stomping grounds.
I was born and raised in Northumberland, PA which is about 30 minutes south of Williamsport, PA the home of the iconic Little League World Series.
There was an absolute gem beside the gem. It sat, somewhat inconspicuously at the upper corner of the hill to the entrance to the Little League facility. It was a little, old building called The Dixie Card Shop.
JM and I would make the drive from State College to Williamsport on the weekday we had off together and spend the better part of the mid-morning and afternoon just flipping through binders, looking at stacks of unopened product, thumbing through boxes of cards and toploaders and just overall having one hell of a great time.
When I say it was a hidden gem and a treasure trove I’m not exaggerating in the least. I collect rookie cards and each and every time I was at Dixie I would walk out with a two or three inch stack of nice higher-end star and superstar rookies and, of course, I’d throw in the occasional oddball rookie for good measure. This place was a museum of cardboard. It was all for sale and all at unbelievable prices, even in the early 2000s. Heaven on earth. Plain and simple.
It got to the point where we knew Judy so well she would let us go in the back room and just go through boxes and boxes of cards for hours.
On one of my many trips to the back room I pulled a 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady auto rookie card. It had a minor ding by Brady’s left leg but otherwise was in fantastic shape. I added that to the stack of 50 other cards that day and I think I paid $100 in total. Now, before you get excited that card is a long, long gone but that is my big fish story from Dixie Card Shop.
JM and I spent countless days driving down, excited to be making the trip and even more excited on our way back to State College with our hauls.
Sadly, the shop closed quite a few years ago, but those will always be some of my fondest memories in the hobby.
Eventually JM and I both went are separate ways and left the company. He eventually moved out of the country and I moved back to my hometown to work for my family’s business. We had lost contact for some time.
Through the magic and power of social media, we reconnected a few years back and we’ve been messaging and staying in contact pretty regularly since. He’s still active in the hobby and just this week, he reached out to see if he could call me and pick my brain and bend my ear, as he was contemplating purchasing a sports card shop a few hours outside of Toronto where he now lives.
We had about an hour long conversation and it was like we never missed a beat. We talked about the potential that this shop may have for him both in-store and online. We talked about the importance of allocations, sales figures, strategies on eBay, Amazon, Walmart and all other selling platforms. It was a great chat but most importantly, we talked about cards, our time in Williamsport and ultimately reconnected on a very special level.
He’s going to look at the place in person later this week. Here’s hoping it all works out for him and he can fulfill a lifelong dream of being a shop owner and being entrenched in the hobby in ways he could have only dreamed of until recently.
Talk about coming full circle. Nearly 20 years after our initial meeting and friendship we reconnected through sports cards once again.
This truly is a special hobby.