Store closings in the hobby have been a fact of life for several years, but the rate of closings appears to have accelerated in recent months as a result of the deepening recession.
“In the last few weeks, two stores went out of business right near me. So, there’s only two of us left now,” said Neil Goldman, who owns Goldy’s Sports Collectibles in Freehold, N.J. The good news for Goldman is that January was a better month for sales, and he’s considering opening a satellite store sometime this year that would be about half the size of his present location.
Al Franklin, owner of Superstars Sports Collectibles in Winnipeg, Manitoba for the past 20 years, has already seen some store closings in Canada and expects to see a few stores close in Winnipeg. But Franklin still looks for the positive in the current economic situation. “I think it’s an opportunity for everyone to step back and focus on what they do best,” he said. “If we do that, we’ll all survive.”
Chuck Colbert, who owns Chuck’s Sportscards Plus in Des Moines, Iowa, said the local economy there isn’t doing all that bad. But that hasn’t stopped more stores from closing. “I already know of two going down in Des Moines,” he said.
Tattoo Thomas, manager of S&S Sports Cards in Broken Arrow, Okla., said three stores closed in his area during the last six months. All three of those stores had been only open for about a year. He anticipates many more closings in the next few months. “I’d say half of the existing stores (in the hobby) won’t make it through the year,” Thomas said, adding that in order to remain open, shops must diversify by adding everything from coins to pennants to their inventory.
Michael Ant, who owns Sports Source in Studio City, Calif., urged the card companies to meet the demands of the changing economy – for dealers and collectors alike. “They’re going to need to come up with some better-valued products,” he said. “It’s the status quo now. We’re losing customers.”