Memorabilia shop fills void

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — It’s game on for Frank Caputo, owner of 807 Cards and Collectibles who has taken his online enterprise and transformed it into a brick-and-mortar store in the city’s waterfront district.

Newly opened in the last two months, Caputo is developing a following of customers who are seeking that one-of-a-kind autographed sports card or memorabilia item. The trek to reach this point meant some leg work ahead.

After leaving his former job, Caputo says, “I just needed to find a new path. I used to be a big fan of Overtime Sports and Collectibles, and with their store closed, my wife said, ‘now it’s your turn to take over.’ So I decided to put my head into it and just go from there.”

Caputo says he ended up back in school for a year to study business and obtain some retraining before pursuing his business goals.

Newly armed with some business knowledge, he began to assemble his new shop.

“I started with my personal collection and then I just started acquiring stuff online,” he said.

Caputo has filled his shelves and showcases with hundreds of sports cards, open packs and graded cards that are already assessed by a company and given a “report card” and a monetary value. Large pro wrestling belts glitter in the main showcase.

“My number one selling cards are hockey right now and my number two selling cards, which was a surprise for me, is pro wrestling,” he said. “I cover all sports with hockey being the main one because there’s a market for them here with Thunder Bay being recognized as a city that produces national hockey players. I do carry all basketball, baseball, and football as well. I also have other memorabilia like an autographed Mike Tyson glove, autographed jerseys and wrestling belts, and more memorabilia stuff.”

Caputo says the “coolest thing” that passed through his hands was a Wayne Gretzky Star Quest Gold card that was one of only 100 produced in the 1990s.

“That was a rare card. We estimated that card to be close to $15,000 and we ended up moving it to the Czech Republic for just over $8,000,” he said.

With the busy Christmas shopping rush behind him, Caputo says things have quieted down, yet the “main players in the game like Wayne Gretzky, Alex Ovechkin the Sidney Crosby cards, they’re still moving.”

“I can’t keep the Connor McDavid card in the store,” he said, adding McDavid is the captain of the Edmonton Oilers and is dubbed as the next Wayne Gretzky.

Caputo says he is always going to worry about some (business) risk but has faith that his store will prosper.

“I started with a bank loan and with my personal stock. So there’s a bit of a risk but I do feel like Thunder Bay needs this,” he said. “There’s a market for it and as I grow, my clientele grows with it and we can just get more products in the store.”

Caputo says the next step for him is to maintain his presence on social media and continue to develop a website with the help of the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal