Archive for Featured Retailers
Recently at the 2012 Sports Cards & Collectibles Expo in Toronto our partners at Grosnor Distribution hosted an event at the Toronto Raptors game where they brought in over twenty business partners who operate trading card shops in the area. It was a really great night where we were treated to a suite at the game and got to interact with these entrepreneurs who chased their dream of working in sports by opening a trading card shop of their own.
That night I met the Chuck and Matt Durka who had recently opened Breakaway Sports Cards and Collectibles. They shared they had reviewed some of our previous stories on how to open up a trading card shop so I thought he would be a tremendous resource to provide information on just how they did it. We were able to have Matt answer some questions about how he was able to get his shop going and wanted to share the answers with those who have always dreamed of opening a trading card shop of their own.
But first, since they are a new shop, we want to encourage fans in the area to visit them and check out what they are doing online.
Breakaway Sports Cards and Collectibles
584 Upper James Street
Hamilton, ONL9C 2Y6
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/breakawaysc
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/breakaway_sc
YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/breakawaysportscards
Upper Deck: What made you want to open a trading card shop?
Matt at Breakaway: I started collecting cards at a young age and always remembered how excited I was when I walked into a store. As I got older, I always thought about opening up my own hobby store. I always pictured myself behind the counter helping out my customers. The biggest reason why I wanted to open up a shop was because I am just incredibly passionate about the hobby. Over the years I saw many shops in my area close down and figured there was an opportunity because of the boom within the card industry in the past number of years. I went to college and university for business and Chuck owned and operated an online business for 5 years. We thought it was time to put our combined knowledge to good use and open up a shop in the industry that we both love.
Upper Deck: What was the biggest challenge in turning your dream of running a trading card shop into a reality?
Matt at Breakaway: The biggest challenge that we encountered would have to be the timing of the NHL lockout and contract negotiations. Being in Canada we are very dependent on hockey sales up here. We would have liked to open up the doors sooner, but thought it would be best to wait out the lockout. Knowing that the major focus of the store would be on the hockey side of things we had no idea what products were going to be released, which ones were going to be cancelled and whether or not the 2012-13 rookie class would be in any product after the lockout ended. Not knowing what products were going to be produced was a major issue to try and determine what sales would be like from now until the end of the year.
Upper Deck: Having a solid business plan is very important. What are some tips you could give someone with regard to creating a business plan?
Matt at Breakaway: We would certainly stress the importance of a well thought out business plan for anyone who decides to open up a store. Forecasting sales for a brand new business is very difficult to determine, especially since you have no history of any previous sales in past years. Making sure that you can control costs is key in the beginning. This will balance out some monetary issues during the start-up phase of the business.
It never hurts to ask someone familiar with a business plan to guide you through the process. Make sure that you have enough money for your initial start-up costs and inventory. It makes no sense to fill your shop at the beginning before you have any idea of how many customers are going to be walking through your door on a daily basis. Try to see if there is a market for the hobby in your area which will help determine whether or not it makes sense to go through with the plan. Visit other shops, go to shows and talk to collectors in the area.
Upper Deck: It takes capital to open a trading card shop. How did you secure financing and approximately how much do you think it takes to open a shop?
Matt at Breakaway: Deciding to open up a shop did not happen overnight so we were able to put money aside well before we actually opened. We used a low interest credit card for inventory purchases to hopefully alleviate the amount of interest we pay in case product turnover is not very high at the beginning. All of the initial start-up costs like shelving, display cases, and an outside sign were all paid with cash to avoid any initial stress. Depending on the amount of inventory you would like in your store at the beginning I would have to say it probably costs somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen to twenty thousand dollars to open up a shop.
Upper Deck: Securing product and having inventory is very important for new shops. How did you go about getting inventory for the shop?
Matt at Breakaway: Working with the authorized distributors and having a positive relationship with them definitely helped to have the right products when we first opened the doors. The good thing is that you don’t have to carry a huge amount of each item since most distributors offer next day delivery.
Upper Deck: What types of events did you put together for the Grand Opening?
Matt at Breakaway: We were fortunate enough to open our store the same week that Upper Deck ran the National Hockey Card Day promotion. This definitely helped create some buzz within our local community to introduce a new hobby shop in to the market. We held a few raffles for the customers that came in to the store on National Hockey Card Day and purchased enough Upper Deck product to meet the demand.
Our plan is to have an official Grand Opening celebration soon once we build up our clientele. This way more people will have the opportunity to win some fantastic prizes we plan on lining up for the Grand Opening store celebration. We are planning on always promoting new giveaways on a monthly basis to let my customers know that their business is definitely appreciated. I plan on holding events as well to raise money for some local charities that we support.
Upper Deck: How important are events like National Hockey Card Day for your business and how do you make the most of them?
Matt at Breakaway: These events are extremely important for our business and we recommend that everyone that has a shop or is going to open a shop to take advantage of anything that the card companies do to help promote the industry. It is human nature for us to get excited when we have the opportunity to get a free pack of cards or win prizes. Utilizing the tools that the card companies provide will only help enhance your customer base and the overall business side of things. Your primary goal is to get people in to the store so they end up making a purchase and have such a good experience they want to tell their friends and come back. It only makes sense to take advantage of every single opportunity that is provided to promote your shop.
Upper Deck: If you could give someone one piece of advice who is thinking about opening a trading card shop, what would that be?
Matt at Breakaway: I’m going to provide you with two pieces of advice because I think both are extremely important to help guide you to a successful business. The first would be customer service and I can not stress this enough. Most people that come in to a card shop are buying based on it being a hobby for them and they like to make a day of it. When they walk in to your store they always want to talk cards. Being open with them and having great conversations builds trust between the buyer and seller. It never hurts to take the time to learn about your customers on a personal level to better understand what they want and how you can help them. At the end of the day customer relations are retention are key. Give them a reason to keep coming back. This sounds simple enough, although it isn’t something that most small businesses practice unfortunately.
The other piece of advice is to take advantage of any online tools like social media to get the word out there that you are in business. It is impossible to think that just by opening the doors people are going to walk through and start spending money. Twitter and Facebook are extremely popular and these tools should be utilized to their fullest potential. Having a website will also help promote your business. Also, participating in local card shows will also help get the word out there to the collectors in your area that you are open for business. It doesn’t cost very much to be at a show and most of the collectors go to these shows. This is a great time to promote your business and I recommend that you take full advantage of it.
Looking for more information on how to open up a trading card shop of your own? Check out other stories on how to open up a shop here:
How to Open a Trading Card Shop with Southern Hobby
How to Open a Trading Card Shop from a Shop Owner’s Perspective – Part 1
How to Open a Trading Card Shop from a Shop Owner’s Perspective – Part 2
How to Open a Trading Card Shop with Grosnor Distribution
How to Open a Trading Card Shop with Magazine Exchange
How to Open a Trading Card Shop with Sports Images
How to Open a Trading Card Shop with Universal Distribution
How to Open a Trading Card Shop with GTS Distribution
How to Sell Singles after You Open a Trading Card Shop
How to Open a Trading Card Shop: Selling Supplies
The information provided in this story is for assistance only and is not intended to be and must not be taken alone as the basis for an investment decision. Opening a trading card store, like any other business, presents certain risks for the business owner. Each reader of this information should make such investigations as it deems necessary to arrive at an independent evaluation of an investment.
For collectors looking to break new Upper Deck products, it’s important you make your purchases from a Certified Diamond Dealer like Pastime Sports & Games. We think it is important to profile shops that are doing the right things and are very pro-collector. Such is the case with Pastime Sports & Games. I met their owner, Ken Richardson, at the Las Vegas Industry Summit and I was immediately impressed by his passion for the industry. Get to know Ken and his shop as he shares how he got into the business and why you need to visit Pastime Sports & Games!
Pastime Sports & Games
20378 Fraser Highway
Langley,British ColumbiaV3A 4G1
Pastime Sports & Games
Central City Shopping Centre
Surrey,British ColumbiaV6B 6N9
Hours: Mon-Tue – 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Wed-Thu – 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Fri – 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m., Sat – 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., Sun – 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
“I got my first job in a card store back in 1986 when I was 11. With the big card boom of late 1980’s, I was all of a sudden self-employed traveling around to different card shows at the ripe old age of 13. Not being old enough to drive, I actually had to pay people to take me around, but it was worth it because I was doing what I loved. I opened my first store in 1990. In 1993, I had the opportunity to open a store in Langley, British Columbia which was the same location where I got that first job. I was only eighteen and had to decide between school and the retail business. With a lot of ambition and not so much money, I choose the retail business and I am sure glad I did!
“Pastime opened selling only sports cards and comics books. How times have changed. We first added role playing games and collectible card games to mix of items we offered. By diversifying our product, we noticed we were getting new people in the store all the time. Becoming successful by offering a wide range of products has made the shop a fun place to visit for all types of collectors. In addition to a wide range of trading cards, you can now find a vast selection of hats, t-shirts, jerseys, pictures, vintage memorabilia, autographed items, team logo licensed items, board games, trading card games, role playing games and miniature war games.
“Running events where our fans can get involved has become the backbone of Pastime Sports & Games. Whether it’s a current Canuck or Hockey Hall-of-Fame member, you can meet your sports heroes at Pastime Sports & Games. In the last year our guests include: Guy Lafleur, Johnny Bower, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Cory Schneider, Geroy Simon, Travis Lulay, Phil Esposito and Darryl Sittler. We will be hosting a special evening in January with Henri Richard that hockey fans will not want to miss!
“Check out some of the excitement from our Phil Esposito autograph signing event at the shop!
“TCG fans can also find weekly gaming tournaments for games such as Magic:TG, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokeman and Cardfight Vanguard. We really try to offer something for everyone!
“With the success of our local sports teams, Pastime had a large increase in the demand for our products and services. In November of 2011 we opened an additional location in the Central City Shopping Centre in Surrey, British Columbia. If you are in the lower mainland and are looking for Upper Deck trading cards there isn’t a store around that has a larger inventory or that will treat you better! So stop in today or engage with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We have a huge inventory and will help our customers with whatever their collecting needs may be!”
We all know how important it is to purchase from a Certified Diamond Dealer right? If not, just check out some of the videos made by other collectors on the subject by clicking here.
We love to spotlight shops that are doing the right things that collectors should visit. And every time I visit downtown Toronto, I’ve just got to stop into a shop called, “From Hockey to Hollywood.” Their owner Glen Humenik is the type of guy who would run through a wall if his customer asked him to. If you are looking for something they don’t have, just let him know and he will do all he can to track it down for you.
From Hockey to Hollywood
322AKing Street West
Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Sat 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. & Sun 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
What really makes the shop worth visiting however is the diversity in what they offer. You’ll find apparel, memorabilia, trading cards and much more including Hollywood celebrity offerings the likes of which you can’t find anywhere else in the city. I try to stop in every time I am staying downtown like this summer, take a look at some of the things I saw when visiting:
Their bread and butter is with new trading card releases; especially Upper Deck NHL products. They offer a great selection of all the latest trading card releases at very fair pricing. So if you are ever in the Toronto area, make sure to check them out!
We love to spotlight our Certified Diamond Dealer partners and some reasons why you need to visit their stores. In my role with Upper Deck, I try not to play favorites with regard to habby shop owners, but it is hard at times. Some shop owners have become really great friends over the years and others are just very inspirational business people. Parvez Balsara is both to me. He is the owner of Untouchables Sports Cards & Gaming in Mississauga, Ontario and I am a really big fan of his. He’s a good friend and a great business man, but most of all he’s just a really good guy who looks out for his customers.
I recently attended the Spring Sports Cards and Collectibles Expo in Toronto and Parvez must have come up to me no less than five times during the show with a customer in tow asking me to help out with a variety of situations. I can’t think of many other dealers who would stop what they were doing at a busy show, leave their booth, find a resource to help their customer and then stay with them until it was resolved. And when situations come up where we can’t help, I know Parvez always does something himself to make the customer feel good. He is successful because he will do just about anything to make sure his customers are happy and well taken care of. This is his story.
Untouchables Sports Cards & Gaming
377 Burnhamthorpe Road East
Mississauga, ON L5A 3Y1
Click HERE to “Like” Untouchables on Facebook and click HERE to “Follow” Untouchables on Twitter
Hours: Mon–Fri: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sun: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
“Untouchables has been a staple in Mississauga, Ontario for the last 23 years and is home to a great group of collectors who are passionate about the hobby. We started off as a very small hobby shop in a corner location of a mall, but through hard work we have grown our business and the size of the store as well. We now have a 2,500 square-foot superstore dedicated to sports collectibles and gaming. It has been an amazing evolution over the years and I am so thankful to our loyal customers for helping us to continue to grow.
“There are always ups and downs in the economy and in this industry as well, but we have found that the best way to keep the store successful is to keep things fun for our customers. Untouchables is a place where collectors of all ages can come hang out, talk, trade, watch sports and unwind. To thanks fans for their support, we have sponsored several athlete signings over the years including one sponsored by Upper Deck where we brought in Tony Esposito. Memories like meeting your favorite athletes in your own neighborhood stay with you forever and we love sharing those experiences with our customers.
“Another way to make visits to Untouchables memorable for our customers is by running a variety of promotions all year round. We recently started a promotion that gives everybody a shot at a great prize like an Upper Deck Sidney Crosby Las Vegas Industry Summit autograph card numbered to 20! We believe strongly that if we give back to our customers and keep them happy, they will be back. Having been in the business for over twenty years, that philosophy has proven to be very successful for us here at Untouchables.
“Our events room can seat over 70 people comfortably. When not being used for tournaments, we encourage customers to unwind and relax here while opening packs. We also host events like ‘The Sports Card Trade Night’ for every hockey card release. Puck collectors can check out the latest releases and trade with others to get a head start on putting their sets together. Gamers love Untouchables as well as we have tournaments almost every day of the week for trading card game players.
“We run Untouchables with the idea that having a great store with great product is not enough. We want our customers to enjoy a great atmosphere operated by knowledgeable staff who will do whatever it takes to help our customers get the most out of the hobby. We hope you’ll visit us soon!”
Parvez works with his wife Anita and I really encourage you to visit their shop. They will treat you like one of the family and you’ll feel at home right when you walk through the doors. If you’ve been, share your experience in the comment section below!
We love to spotlight our Certified Diamond Dealer partners and some reasons why you need to visit their stores. We especially love to share stories about shops who have managed to become successful for a long time. And that is the case with Card Shack in Lynbrook, New York. Steve Cardi is one of the truly good guys in the hobby and by treating his customers like gold they have come back repeatedly making the Card Shack the hobby shop you’ve got to visit in New York. He has a whole cavalcade of festivities planned for their 25th anniversary in the hobby beginning next week so make your plans to be a part of it!
9 Atlantic Avenue
Lynbrook, NY 11563
Click HERE to “Like” Card Shack on Facebook and click HERE to “Follow” Card Shack on Twitter
Hours: Mon–Fri: 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sun: Closed
Here’s Steve Cardi’s story:
“I grew up as a New York Islanders fan and I loved the sport of hockey growing up. When I was 10 years-old back in 1980 two very special things happened; the United States hockey team won the gold medal (The Miracle on Ice) in Lake Placid and a few months later the New York Islanders won their first Stanley Cup while going on to winning four more Stanley Cup Championships in a row. It was that year that my passion for card collecting exploded.
“With not many stores in or around my hometown of Valley Stream, New York, my parents would take me every once in a while to card shows. I also purchased complete sets through magazines like the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated. Things were much tougher before the internet for collectors without a hobby shop in their area.
“During high school I decided to rent a table at a local show and set up with my best friend who loved cards like I did. After weeks of pleading with my parents to drive me to the card show, they relented and that was my first venture into the business. Approximately one year later I told my dad I wanted to open up a small card shop and he agreed to help out. I was a junior in high school and had just got my drivers license. I found a small storefront (450 sq feet) less than two miles from my house and since I was still in school, it was fine that I was only open part time. Since the location was so small, I thought the perfect name for the shop was ‘Card Shack’ which has stuck as we have grown over the years.
“As my success grew, I put myself through college by scheduling my classes very early as I wanted to devote more time to my business. My parents agreed to be supportive of my business as long as I maintained my grades. After four years in that location I moved my business to a much larger location back in my hometown of Valley Stream. It was there that I had 18 great years before relocating one mile away back to the town where I started.
“Through the years I have expanded from just strictly sports cards to carrying a full line of sports memorabilia and sports novelty items. In early 2001, I launched a very successful web site that is hosted by Beckett.com with almost 4 million sports cards listed. As much as the internet is where a lot of the card business is generated, my passion is still for engaging collectors in the shop and seeing not only the regulars, but new collectors as well. This is my passion as it always has been and I strive hard each and every day to give back to my customers. People ask me how I’ve been in business this long, I tell them, ‘Take care of your customers.’
“And now that I’ve reached 25 great years of being a brick and mortar store, I am totally excited for what is still to come. I run lots of promotions throughout the year, but with the 25th anniversary looming on May 30, 2012 will be the best of all my yearly promotions in a one week bonanza! Here is the calendar of events for what is sure to be a very memorable week for our collectors at the Card Shack:
Tuesday, May 29 – We are starting off our week with a Card Flipping Contest (call for details).
Wednesday, May 30 (actual anniversary day) – For one day only, fans can save 25% off any items in the store, don’t miss the savings!
Thursday, May 31 – We are having New York Yankees 1977 & 1978 World Series Champion centerfielder Mickey Rivers appearing for a FREE autograph signing at the store (call for details).
Friday, June 1 – Don’t miss our Customer Trade Night where you can bring in your singles to trade with other collectors.
Saturday, June 2 – We will start off with a Pack Wars for Kids and a Card Collecting Seminar (under 12 only). It is also ‘Jersey Sponsorship Day’ all day where anyone who comes in wearing a jersey receives a free pack of cards! We will be ending Saturday with a bang, by having our 1st session of Anniversary Box Breaks.
Sunday, June 3 – The anniversary festivities end in style with a Customer Appreciation Brunch from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. followed by our 2nd session of Anniversary Box Breaks in which the winner will receive a prize that could be valued up to $1,000.
“Lastly our Good Student Program which has grown immensely since the inception in 2001. We will be rewarding all students double Pack Wars Bucks the week of our anniversary for all good grades brought into the Card Shack. We look forward to seeing all the sports fans at the Card Shack!”
As you can see, Steve is pulling out all the stops to thank his valued collectors with this great event. Steve has served on multiple Chamber of Commerce boards for his great creativity with the youth as long as a long time sponsor of local youth teams and leagues. And he has three boys who all think that their dad has the best job ever! Drop by the Card Shack and see for yourself!