When Matt Foster first opened a sports trading card shop in Cape Coral, he had no space dedicated to selling Pokémon cards until customers began asking for it.
Soon, they began demanding it.
Pokémon, which is short for pocket monsters, originated in Japan in 1996, took a foothold in the U.S. and have been popular ever since.
Southwest Florida never has had a store dedicated to selling Pokémon cards until now. PokéStop launched with a soft opening two weeks ago and will celebrate its grand opening at 10 a.m. Sunday at 2135 Santa Barbara Blvd., Unit 105. It’s part of the strip mall known as Seahawk Plaza, just across the street from Cape Coral High School, a couple doors down from Foster’s recently relocated sports card store, STR8 Cards & Collectables, in Unit 102.
The two shops are normally open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
“We noticed that Pokémon was selling – outselling, our sports,” Foster said. “It was literally outselling everything in sports. I said why don’t we get this building and do nothing but Pokémon and TCG?”
TCG stands for Trading Card Game.
Paris Jenkins, who is managing PokéStop, had a big say in Foster’s decision to open it.
“I started learning more about sports cards, and he started learning more about Pokémon cards,” Jenkins said.
Foster has two employees at PokéStop, four at STR8 Cards & Collectables and 15 for his biggest business, Tarpon Air Conditioning & Construction, which he started in 2012.
Prices in the card shops range from 10 or 50 cents to $1,000 for a graded Pokémon rarity, the Dark Charizard card, or $50,000 for a particular Kevin Durant rookie card, one of only 10 ever made.
Both stores buy, sell and trade cards, with 60% cash credit and 90% trading credit.
The stores are also doing card breaks, when customers pre-buy teams or categories, and then the packs and boxes of cards are opened and livestreamed online from an in-house studio.
Next, Foster is planning a sports-oriented podcast to be called Sports Deb8 and filmed in the sports card store.
“There’s a huge Pokémon community here,” Foster said. “Huge. From kids to adults. There’s a lot of adults who spend a lot of money on Pokémon. Just chasing that childhood dream I guess of those cards.
“We’re doing anywhere from $500 to $2,500 a day, and we haven’t even done the grand opening yet.”