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The Sports Card and Gaming Exchange wants to be your full service hobby and collectibles store.
Open for just a few months, they’re gaining momentum. The shop has been generating word-of-mouth “buzz” and they are beginning to build a clientèle, according to owners Rick and Amy Shy.
“We actually have quite a few regulars already,” Rick said. “Wednesdays are when the comics come out and we’ve got the same guys that come in every Wednesday, and a lot of people come in who had to go all the way to Florence to get stuff. It’s getting better every day. It’s slow initially, and people have to find you.”
After considering several Grant County locations, they settled on the Arbor’s Drive strip mall.
Although the Dry Ridge couple was concerned about opening a new business in a slow economy, they already had a well-established Internet business, on Ebay and at TheCardExchange@zoomtown.com, with a foothold on the market.
“We’ve always wanted to have a business,” he said. “We still have that going and it’s kind of a financial back-bone for everything as this sort of gets established.”
Before jumping full-force into the business, Rick did some research.
“I have a focus group—it’s called my family,” he said laughing. “I have kids from 8 to adults, plus we did foster care for several years, and I kind of understood what kids are into. My kids were collecting certain things and I found out there was a lot of interest in it.”
If Rick, as Amy says, “is the numbers guy,” then she, is definitely the words gal. Amy Shy is, not ‘shy’ at all.
She enjoys her time in the store, because she loves meeting and talking with people and between customers, she fills her time with scrapbooking and sewing quilt tops.
Amy looks forward to purchasing a long-arm quilter, and then she will do custom quilting for those who have made their own quilt tops.
“Right there—there is going to be a long-arm quilter,” Rick said, pointing to a space in the store. “That’s the next step for us.”
The Shys are family-oriented, having cared for 22 foster care children over the years and they have five children of their own, all adults except for 8-year old Emily.
At this point, the store has two sections, with one side devoted to traditional sports cards and memorabilia and the other side, the newest trend of Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic, Pokemon and other collectible card games.
Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon, both based on cartoons on TV, generally appeal to younger kids. Teenagers and older kids tend to like the Yu-Gi-Oh, and Magic, a role playing game, appeals mostly to college age students and adults.
“I’ve been set up with the manufacturers of those games to do official tournaments, organized play—some call it,” Rick said. “The kids will get issued I.D. cards and I can enter the results into the manufacturers data base and the kids will actually get national ranking points.”
They also stock comic books, both new and old titles, graphic novels and Manga graphic novels (a Japanese version of the comic book, which is read backwards) and other board games. The hottest comic book, according to Rick and promoted on Marvel.com is Fear Itself, “Marvel Universe to face its biggest foe yet: Fear Itself,” according to the website. “Fear Itself will involve the entire Marvel Universe—but who are the Worthy?”
Amy said manufacturers flooded the market with sports cards in the 1980s and 90s, which causes them to have mostly little or no value today. When customers come in with card in hand and high hopes, she hates to disappoint them.
“When somebody comes in—I know the feeling,” she said. “We’re honest with them though. We do buy or exchange exceptional sports cards and memorabilia. Rick is good at numbers and he knows the value of things.”
Josh Franks of Dry Ridge feels pretty good about his recent purchase that rendered him the sixth card of only 15 produced of the Bengals first and second round picks from the 2011 draft, which had double signatures: A.J. Green and Andy Dalton.
“It’s the best card I’ve ever pulled by far,” Franks said. “It’s awesome!”
The Shys are members of Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), the largest third-party grading and authentication company in the world. They will send your card to PSA for authentication and appraisal. The cards are returned professionally sealed in a plastic case.
They also have a “dump table,” where just a quarter gives a kid purchasing power.
“Who knows, it could be a rookie card and they could end up with a really spectacular card,” Amy said. “That’s the neat thing about opening it when you don’t know what’s in there.”
If someone is lucky enough to pull that special card—time usually increases the value.
“We don’t necessarily advocate—sell it, sell it—hold onto things, you may need money now, but that is an investment, it seriously is an investment.”
They want their store to become a place where families come together with a hobby that can be shared.
“They can pull out a sports box and go through the cards,” Amy said. “Hopefully we can get families doing it together—that’s what we want to develop.”