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The sports and trading card hobby, rejuvenated when the COVID-19 pandemic began because people were staying at home, going through their old collections, continues its revival at a North Naples shop.  

East West Sports Cards and Breaks celebrated its first year of existence in the fall and then recently expanded, almost doubling the store’s size at Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt at the northwest corner of Vanderbilt Beach Road and Airport-Pulling Road.  

“Our two owners are from New York. They were into the hobby, and after some time, they realized it could be its own business,” said Tommy McAndrew, the store’s general manager. “They wanted a shop.”  

They also recognized there were not many brick-and-mortar shops in Southwest Florida as most of them were online. McAndrew had owned a moving business for 20 years while a friend owned a nutrition store in the same shopping center, which led to him becoming involved.  

“We have 40% more space now,” McAndrew said. “That allowed us to get more display cases. During COVID, everything just went crazy. The market, right now, is correcting itself from COVID. Prices are starting to come down. We are a card-centered shop. We do have some memorabilia, but we do focus on the cards and sealed products that you can’t get anywhere else.” 

East West is also working on revamping its website. When it’s ready, the store will be able to be an online juggernaut, linked with eBay, while still having its in-person options.  

“We feel like you have to have a shop,” McAndrew said. “You have to have a physical presence. We’re trying to develop a personality to the store. We want to be informative, entertaining and light.”  

The store buys and trades cards with customers. It also runs card “breaks,” where participants buy into the breaks and will receive a pre-determined number of random cards from them. Some of the breaks are for high rollers. Three months ago, the store held a break that cost $1,000 to enter with each entrant receiving one of a box’s 10 cards. One of the entrants received the rights to Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s “NFL Shield” rookie card from the card brand Panini’s National Treasures set. The man who received that card flipped it the next day to a Miami investor for $1.7 million, McAndrew said. It was the 12th-most expensive card to sell in 2022, according to Beckett, the hobby’s trade publication. 

“When you open a box, and you pull a really good card, a big hit, you want to promote that,” McAndrew said.  

While some of the encased, graded cards at the store are going for hundreds of dollars, the store also is targeting children with a case of Pokemon cards. And it’s targeting new entrants to the sports card hobby with bins full of cards worth a dollar each.  

“What we’re noticing going into our second season, is people are coming back to the store,” McAndrew said. “We’re trying to build a brand. We don’t want to be here for nine years. We want to be here for 50 years.” 

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