By Gord Bowes, News staff
The NHL lockout didn't just affect businesses in cities with pro franchises.
Matt and Chuck Durka held off on opening their new store on Upper James because of the pro hockey standoff.
The lack of hockey hype wasn't conducive to a new business which focuses on sports cards and collectibles.
The brothers had planned to open their store back in September after finding what they thought was the perfect location for their business. But with the NHL season on hold, they felt it was best to wait as customers wouldn't be clamouring for cards of their favourite stars.
As 2013 dawned, they felt they couldn't wait any longer or their preferred location would be gone, so they signed the lease. About the same time, the lockout ended.
"It felt like we did the right thing, that it was meant to be," said Matt.
The store, Breakaway Sports Cards and Collectibles, located at 584 Upper James St., opened today (Feb. 4). On Saturday, as part of Canada Card Day, they’ll be giving away free packs of hockey cards.
Matt and Chuck, who graduated from St. Thomas More and studied business at Mohawk College, have been collecting cards
Last year, they decided to start an online card selling business (breakawaysc.com). It's been successful, they say, but card companies treat bricks-and-mortar businesses a little better, plus they were looking for a new challenge, so they decided to open a walk-in location.
The sportscard industry has been through a major overhaul in recent years. After the resurgence of interest in the 1990s, the market was flooded with cards and the number of vendors, or individuals selling them on eBay, drove their value down.
To revive interest, companies started producing premium, limited edition cards, some of which are embedded with a piece of a jersey or stick that was used in a game.
"It brought a whole new crowd of people into the business," said Chuck.
There are still the basic packs or cards selling for around a loonie apiece, but most companies also offer the deluxe set with a "pack" of cards being sold in a decorative tin for as much as $450. Because of the small, numbered run of cards, the ones with stars can selling for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.
"A lot of times you're going to get the value back for the tin, but it's the big card that people chase," said Chuck.