MONDAY, JAN. 29 (UPDATE FEB. 1): The bell jingled as the door opened and a wide-eyed youth excitedly plunked down some change on the counter.
Ripping through the Mylar, the child’s nervousness could be seen as they savoured the treasures of the newly purchased cards.
That scene was played out thousands of times over the past two decades as children of all ages bought packs from A & J Sportscards.
The business was once located on Church Street, but moved to the Washington Mall after taking over the premises occupied by former rival Upperdeck.
It’s another sign of how the decline of international business, and sales from the Internet has hurt the local economy.
Owner Joan Hollis said she has been “huffing and hawing” for months over the decision to close but she can no longer remain profitable.
Ms Hollis said: “What’s coming in is not supporting the rent. I hate to close down because we do have a following.
“I do help people price their cards so this is kind of sad.
“We don’t see a lot of the exempt company kids any more. Every Friday or Saturday they would come in to get their cards but we haven’t seen hide nor hair of them in ages.
“We still have a few locals who buy cards, but that’s not enough to pay the rent. They are sad we’re leaving.”
Ms Hollis said her business is another that’s been affected by the Internet.
“I don’t want to go, but it’s gotten to the point I have to go.”
Ms Hollis said the store has always evolved to meet consumer demand.
On her Church Street location she used to primarily be in the video business, but also sold sports related items.
Then the sports card craze took off and she switched her emphasis.
When NASCAR became hot and sports cards waned she brought in more items to appeal to that market.
Then Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic and Pokemon cards became the latest rage and she switched it up again.
“I’ve been looking for another location with a lower rent for quite a while, but I haven’t been able to find a small place that’s central where the kids could run from the bus stop to see us and run back.”
She has a 50 per cent off sale on her merchandise at present.
It’s a literal “everything must go sale” as Ms Hollis is also selling her fixtures, cash register, video recorder and TV.
She said the management of the Washington Mall has “very kindly” allowed her to stay past the end of the month until Saturday so she can help get rid of her inventory.
“I hummed and hawed trying to find something at the last minute and it didn’t work.”