New Bedford buddies open sports activities buying and selling card store to advertise interest

NEW BEDFORD – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a resurgence in the trading and collecting of sports cards – and has cast its spell back on hobbyists and professionals alike. Now New Bedford is in the thick of it.

The Kard Shop on Pleasant Street and Union Street was born when four friends – Brandon Santiago, Luke Whalen, Keith Pereira and Ryan Nunes – fell in love with card collecting again.

“During the pandemic, when the world was kind of slowing down, it gave everyone the opportunity to focus on the things that matter …

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“It was something I enjoyed with my family and brothers,” he said. “Everyone watches sports, everyone likes to keep track of the players and statistics, but with the cards you have a little more skin in the game and you have the feeling of being right in the middle of it.”

Co-owner Brandon Santiago grabs a card he just traded from a customer at the newly opened The Kard Shop on Pleasant Street in New Bedford.

In the past 18 months, the overall popularity of the trading card industry has skyrocketed. In 2020, eBay released a report that the market was up nearly 150% and sold over four million cards. The market doubled again in the first half of 2021.

“The hobby is very lively, thriving and growing quickly,” said Santiago. On August 16, a Honus Wagner card sold for $ 6.6 million – setting the world record. Wagner played baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1897 to 1917.

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“Very few people even knew that the hobby was coming back and something again,” added Santiago. “We liked this part more than anything … the chance to educate people about it, have fun conversations, and peruse collections that people brought back from their dusty basements.”

Opening of the Kard shop

Santiago says the store first opened as a solo booth at a local barber shop. He and his friends set up a case full of cards to put feelers among the local crowd. To her surprise, it immediately became more popular.

“It became something we did just for fun,” he said. “And then it was like, ‘Oh, wow, this could really be something.’” After a two-month renovation, the store officially opened on August 1st.

Santiago says that what’s special about their business is that the hallway the first time you walk into the building is kind of creepy and dated. But as soon as you step into the store, it’s like entering another world.

“It takes you away from real life for a moment,” he said.

Co-owner Ryan Nunes browses some card trading sites online while sitting in front of a wall he helped set up at the newly opened The Kard Shop on Pleasant Street, New Bedford.

The room is light, airy and has floor-to-ceiling windows. There is a flat-screen TV, black countertops, glass paneling, and LED lighting everywhere. The main attraction, however, is the impressive wall of maps with 2,000 maps from Santiago and the private collection of its co-owners.

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“Our shop is not your typical one, you have to go in and we will pressure you to buy some tickets,” added Santiago. “We have water, coffee and drinks, comfortable sofas, tables and books to leaf through.

Peter Gallagher is a happy customer when he leaves the newly opened The Kard Shop on Pleasant Street in New Bedford after some shopping and doing business.

“We really want to create a fun, safe environment where people can come in and enjoy their time in the store to study.”

Who’s who in the trading card game

Santiago, who was born and raised in the South End and graduated from New Bedford High School in 2003, has studied the trading card industry extensively.

“We found that there are four different groups of people in this market,” he said.

The first group are investors who buy sports tickets when the market value goes down and sell them when they go up again.

A close up of the wall with hundreds of cards taped into wallpaper in the newly opened The Kard Shop on Pleasant Street in New Bedford.

“There really is a correlation between the card game and the stock market,” added Santiago. “When it’s a baseball game and the guy does three or four more homers than anyone else, the price of the ticket can skyrocket. If someone is injured, the card appears immediately. “

The second group is the resellers and pinball machines, whom Santiago says are opportunists who buy card boxes in bulk and resell them months later at a higher price. The third group are the hobbyists who are just out for the thrill of opening packs or chasing a particular card to add to their collection.

And finally, the fourth group are card business owners who enjoy teaching people and keeping the hobby alive for future generations.

Brandon Santiago, right, takes a look at some cards to trade with Peter Gallagher, who stopped at the newly opened The Kard Shop on Pleasant Street in New Bedford.

“We are a group of people who love the hobby, have been collecting for some time and want to help others reconnect with the hobby that they probably enjoyed in the past,” said Santiago.

Working with the community

Santiago also says that another primary goal of their business is to provide collaboration opportunities between other small businesses in the city. “We really want to be rooted in the community,” he said.

Besteas Bubble Tea is right next to The Kard Shop. Visitors who order the “Pikachu Punch” will receive a ticket to come to The Kard Shop and exchange it for a free pack of Pokemon cards. Santiago says they have already given away 425 packages.

Brandon Santiago, co-owner of The Kard Shop, goes through the last few tickets redeemed for a pack of Pokémon cards by customers who bought a special drink at Besteas in New Bedford.

The shop is also participating in a modified version of the “Paperclip Challenge” – a recently viral TikTok challenge in which people take a paperclip and trade items to try to get a car or a house.

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There is a card in the shop and if one day you have a card of the same or higher value, you can simply take the card and leave your card behind. Santiago’s goal is to get a card valuable enough to sell and buy 300 boxes of cards to give away to children trying to get into the hobby who may not have the money.

“Ultimately, we don’t cure cancer or do anything like that,” Santiago said with a chuckle. “But we connect with our community. And we’re trying to really solidify our roots here and do something fun, positive and get more people involved. “

Standard Times representative, Seth Chitwood, can be reached at [email protected]. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard Times today.

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