Home Cd store Sports card store Hamden aims to bring back ‘an atmosphere’ for collectors

Sports card store Hamden aims to bring back ‘an atmosphere’ for collectors

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HAMDEN – A slice of the past decade has arrived in North Hamden.

Inside the entrance to JA Sports Cards & Collectibles, cardboard boxes contain stacks of baseball, football, basketball, and Pokemon cards. Visitors can browse through them as if they were rummaging through a stack of records or CDs.

Father-son pairs often sit at a nearby table to look at these boxes together, according to Alan Greenberg, who opened the store in early March with the help of his two sons.

The adventure is a passionate project. As a child, Greenberg hoped to one day run a sports card store.

But for years he chose the practical route, handling home loans for a bank, he said.

“It started to slow down a bit,” Greenberg said. “I still do them, but I kind of wanted to fulfill my dream.”

After COVID-19 descended on Connecticut, Greenberg and her 17-year-old son, Joshua Greenberg, found themselves breathing new life into what had been a longtime hobby.

Joshua Greenberg, who collected Pokémon cards when he was younger, fell in love with collecting football cards, he said.

While exploring the business side of the collecting world, he and his father started a store on eBay.

Then they found the location on Whitney Avenue and decided “this is it. We really should,” said Alan Greenberg.

The project was a team effort. Greenberg’s eldest son, Jeremiah Greenberg, 19, helped market the business by spreading the word on social media, his father said.

“It’s not a common thing. People don’t open card shops, especially now,” said Alan Greenberg.

Lucas Kohli, one of Greenberg’s employees, said he never expected to work in a card store. But he drove to the Greenbergs’ place shortly after theirs opened and spotted a “we’re hiring” sign.

A self-described “sports card connoisseur”, Kohli enjoys being able to take advantage of some of the high-end cards, which he usually doesn’t have in his own collection.

On one side of the store, customers can peer behind display cases at rows of neatly presented face-up cards wrapped in protective cases.

There is a Michael Jordan card and a Stephen Curry card. There’s a 1964 Willie Mays card and a 1955 Ted Williams “Smash Return” card.

Some cards have been authenticated or noted. Authentication verifies signatures on certain cards, said Alan Greenberg, while scoring describes the physical condition of cards.

One company marks the card on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 denoting “a gem mint card,” Greenberg said — such as the Derek Jeter draft pick card, which is listed for $600.

Because it costs money to have the cards appraised, the Greenbergs refuse to appraise some of them. But once a card is ranked, Greenberg said, it can sell for a higher price.

To determine a card’s value, the Greenbergs research its selling price online. eBay is the best point of reference, said Alan Greenberg.

Real world events impact card prices. When the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl, Greenberg said, cards featuring quarterback Matthew Stafford went up in value.

The shop also offers other treasures. There’s a baseball bat signed by Mike Schmidt, a former Phillies third baseman, and a basketball autographed by Boston Celtics star Larry Bird.

But JA Sports Cards & Collectibles aims to offer more than novelty items. Alan Greenberg tries to bring back “an atmosphere”.

“I feel like this whole type of store…where people walk in and talk and chat and hang out…all that stuff is gone,” he said. “With the pandemic, it’s even worse.”

In his store, where his son also spends time after school, Greenberg can chat with customers, watch sports and practice his favorite hobby.

It doesn’t look like work.

“We really appreciate it, so we love everything,” he said. “Standing in the store all day and talking to people about sports isn’t even really a job.”

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