California Card Shop Exemplifies the Spirit of the Hobby

California Card Shop Exemplifies the Spirit of the Hobby

The rapid ascension of the Sports Card and Sports Memorabilia Hobby from casual children's past time to thriving multi billion dollar industry has led to a great deal of change within the hobby.  There is a portion of the collecting community that sharply opposes the commercial aspect of the hobby, saying that it diminishes the enjoyment and purity of the hobby.  An opposing faction of collectors have welcomed change, arguing that the financial growth of the hobby has increased the long term viability and appeal of collecting.  With such sharply contrasting viewpoints its easy to get swept in one direction or the other.  So just who is right?  What is collecting really all about?

south bay cards ImageThose in search of answers need look no further than the example set by South Bay Cards, a relatively small card and memorabilia retailer located 20 miles south of Los Angeles.  Scott Allen, Vice President of South Bay Cards, described the essence of the collecting experience during a recent interview with The Daily Breeze , saying that it was about, "the family experience, the trading and bartering, the purchasing or selling, and the feeling of accomplishment of building sets (that) will get passed down."

This isn't just talk - Allen's company walks the walk.  Six times a year South Bay Cards invites local children to participate in special collecting events held at their store.   During these events, the card shop gives away more then $2,000 in sports cards and sports memorabilia.  Professional athletes attend one or two of these events each year to sign autographs for the excited young collectors in attendance.

South Bay Cards also offers children the opportunity to celebrate their birthday parties at the shop by participating in one of their patented "Card Parties".  Card Parties typically last about two hours, during which time kids open packs of cards and learn about the rich 121 year history of card collecting.

Interestingly enough, the company's strong emphasis on the non-financial aspects of the hobby has not hindered their ability to create and maintain a successful business.  On average, new businesses founded in the United States fail sometime during the first 7 years that they are in business.  South Bay Cards has been in business for 21 years now, and is still going strong.

South Bay Cards is proof that money and collecting are not an either / or proposition.  They can (and are) being practiced alongside one another, and the results speak for themselves.


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Mike Smeth is the CEO and Founder of The Cardboard Connection. After collecting baseball cards as a child, he took a 12-year hiatus from the hobby. One muggy summer day in 2006 he unexpectedly came across his childhood card collection while packing up for a move. He began sorting through them so he could sell them on Craigslist. Somewhere between the 3rd and 4th box, he rediscovered his passion for collecting and hasn't looked back since. You can find Mike on Google+ and Twitter @mikesmethcc.

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