One year ago, I left a corporate job just before my 5-year pin to join my boyfriend in running his sports card shop here in Kelowna, BC. Some thought I was crazy I’m sure, some were jealous that I was following my dreams and taking a risk. I was excited for a new challenge, having a bit more freedom in my job, and building a business as a family, not for someone else.
I had been around the shop for a few years before my boyfriend’s partner retired; helping with social media, adding a woman’s touch to a man’s world here and there, helping with big events but now I could jump in with two feet into the day-to-day running of the shop. My priority was social media and adding the online world to the store but I tell you, every day became so busy and full of people and mail prep that we’d be at the store late into the evening, often supporting the nearby restaurants with Take-Out orders. We both had the same goal: for people to enjoy the sports card and memorabilia hobby and to introduce as many people as we could to the collecting sports cards; while growing the business to provide for our family – now, and for future generations.
Many new collectors were coming to the store – fans of sports, but either reminiscing about collecting cards with their dads when they were young, or hearing from a buddy at work about the $1000 card they just pulled from a $6 pack. Not only men, but women were coming in – perhaps feeling more comfortable that they weren’t the only female in the shop anymore. They were wanting to collect, or find their husband the perfect gift, or waiting while their son played hockey next door at Prospera Place and needing to occupy the younger sibling. A community grew. Regular customers became friends, Wednesday Night Dates became business meetings with future partners in order to expand the business, and weekend evenings were spent running in-store events or birthday parties before heading out for a late night dinner date. I never imagined this was the world I would spend my days – and evenings – in but have loved learning new things, taking a small business online, and working alongside my partner.
Have I always loved sports? No. Can I pronounce all the names of hockey players correctly? Double No! Do I know the Top 3 players from the past few years in NHL, NFL & MLB? Mostly and can fake it when I forget. Do I love when we get to meet sports stars and attend live events? Yes! Did I start my own collection? Yes, I love the surprise of a Marvel or Star Wars box and building my sets and know that I should really start picking up Young Guns to save for the future. We also have some of our favourite pieces on the walls at home – there are probably more pictures of hockey players than the kids hanging up!
My son started helping at the shop and we were able to create a basketball section for him. These days, basketball cards are so HOT on the market, most Canadian stores are left out of stock, but we’ve been able to pick up some amazing pieces for his collection. He has a goal of buying and flipping cards til he’s 16 years old and seeing what kind of car he can buy with his earnings. I love encouraging him in this and seeing his business sense grow. I encourage my youngest daughter just the same to get involved if she wants to, and look forward to seeing where she finds her niche in a small business.
Then Covid-19 hit. There were a few conversations of panic – we had put all of our eggs in one basket and couldn’t afford to run the house and business on government support, so had to keep working amidst being closed. This would disqualify us from business government support. We had to get creative. Our living room turned into a card shop and hours were spent sorting, pricing and selling cards that hadn’t been looked at in a while. The idea came up to sell singles through Facebook LIVE and in the evenings, our living room became a studio and my inability to stay quiet for two hours while he ran the show created something unique from the usual cardshop breaks online. Customers watched all the show to laugh at our banter and bid on cards. New customers have joined who can’t wait to check out our store.
We often joke that we make a living selling pictures of men but it’s so much more than that. We are helping people to connect with their families – past and future. Reminding them of memories of their childhood, bridging intergenerational gaps through sports and collecting and providing investment opportunities to help generations to come. We are facilitating a community of people with common interests, and whether in person or now virtually, providing a safe and fun environment to hang out and introduce future friends to each other.
Now more than ever, it’s become so apparent to us the importance to shop small, and shop local. We want to thank you for supporting our family by shopping at Players Choice Sports