Today is the 22nd anniversary for my local card shop. In this day when it seems that card shops are closing on a regular basis, Eddie Barkley at Sports Treasures keeps on going.
I've been his customer for the last 10 years or so. Since he's on the other side of town I don't get there as often as I like, nor do I spend as much as I'd like, but he's a great guy and a very good dealer. Even though I don't visit frequently when I do, I'm treated like an old friend. He knows my name and calls out to me when I enter his store. He has a range of items, from the latest boxes and singles to a nice collection of desirable vintage. Dollar boxes, lots of University of Tennessee memorabilia, signed balls, jerseys, banners, you name it, he probably has it or can get it.
I had the chance to do a quick interview with Eddie last evening. At his request, I've edited his answers for clarity. I also lifted the images from his facebook photo albums.
Q: What made you want to get into the sports card business?
A: I got into the card business because it was my Dad's love and I had just graduated from college so I had nothing else to do. I love sports so we started it.
Q: With many card shops closing across the nation, what has allowed you to remain open?
A: I think the biggest reason we survived is because we put money into the business and had a full inventory of old and new stuff, whereas most people opened because of one hot product and then faded out. They didn't have the inventory to survive. Plus we tried to make our shop open to women and children, not just adult males.
Q: I know that you've had at least two locations, your present one and then before that, across from Litton's. Anywhere else?
A: I've moved two times into three spots total. I started across the street from Litton's in Fountain City, to up the corner where the bridal shop was and then to where I am now.
Q: What is the biggest change you've seen in the hobby?
A: Wow, the hobby has changed so drastically over the last 20 years. It is hard to say. I guess the cost of packs, the autographed cards and the value of cards that come from packs.
Q: What is the most interesting item that you've had come through the shop?
A: Most interesting? Lots of stuff, the best I guess was a Babe Ruth Rookie $8,000 card!!!
Q: Do you have a personal collection? What do you like to collect?
A: I have a small personal collection now. I used to have more at home but now doing the shop alone, technically everything there is my collection and I just change it around some each month.
So, Happy Anniversary, Eddie, and Sports Treasures.
If you're in Knoxville, drop by and visit him at 4819 N. Broadway. Online he can be reached via the store's facebook page or his ebay store.