Last week, I signed on the dotted line, paving the way to open a sports card store in my hometown of Cullman, Alabama. As I previously recounted for OG News readers, I’m jumping on the sports trading-card bandwagon. Even though some investors speculate this crypto-hot market will burn out soon, I remain all-in on sports card speculation.

Johnny Kampis card house
I bought this small salon last week, and now will spend the next two months transforming it into a booming sports card marketplace. I’m making a big bet on the future of the industry. (Image: Amy Kampis)

Initially, I figured I’d rent, and I hadn’t intended to really pursue this endeavor until later in 2021, when more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and the pandemic has started to die down. But, a salon owner looking to move into real estate full time listed a small building for sale at an affordable price on a major US highway. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to start a card store and also own a piece of commercial property.

Big Increase in Demand for Pieces of Cardboard

You can count me among the number of collectors who dipped out of the market in the late 90s only to bounce back into it last year during the start of the pandemic. Due to a confluence of factors, the sports card market saw incredible growth last year, and probably stands stronger than it ever has.

Venerable online auctioneer eBay says they saw 142% growth in domestic trading card sales last year.

That’s why I decided to fulfill a dream conjured up half a lifetime ago. I had always wanted to operate my own shop, and the time was right for me to grab my piece of the pie. Because the market saw such a boom in 2020, new product sells for much higher prices on the secondary market shortly after release. Distributors and manufacturers limit who can get the new product, but the odds increase if you operate a retail store.

After buying the building on Wednesday, next lies in front of me the task of converting a beauty salon into a card shop. Knowing that the owner was happy to sell the space with all of it contents intact, I stipulated in the contract that those items remain. Certainly, I don’t need hair dryers and hydraulic chairs for a card shop, but I figured I could sell that inventory to pay for the fixtures I would need, such as display cases and shelving.

Salon-to-Sports Card Store Conversion Commences

I found the sales much easier than expected – evidently, there’s a real demand for salon equipment in this area – and have unloaded the majority of that inventory in just two days. But, removing hair washing stations and a stackable washer and dryer made me realize this salon-to-card shop conversion may prove a little trickier than initially imagined, due to various water pipes coming out of the floor. Water and valuable pieces of cardboard don’t exactly mix, so I’ll have to pay a plumber to remove those.

Certainly, some additional work will be involved to convert a store frequented almost exclusively by women to one that will likely be frequented almost exclusively by men. The walls with a light blue tint can stay, but I’ll have to repaint those peach-colored ones.

man cave or hair salon?
This space doesn’t exactly scream man cave, and I’m not sure I need the hairdryer. (Image: Johnny Kampis)

It’s all part of the lengthy process. I don’t plan to open until April to give me plenty of time to not only prepare the store, but also learn how to run retail software and remit sales tax to state and local governments.

I, of course, will continue to bring stories about sports card trading to the readers of OG News, but some of my journalistic research will take place while I’m tending shop.