Sports card sales soaring during pandemic

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on economic hardship for many across the South Central Kentucky region.

However, there is one industry that’s thriving: sports cards.

Chris Grubb is a self-described cardboard slinger… meaning he loves buying, selling, and collecting sports cards.

He’s been growing his personal collection for over 30 years now, but his dream of opening his own shop wasn’t a reality until about 10 years ago.

“When you go to a card shop, and it’s the feeling of having nice cards behind cases that you know are expensive, it’s like ‘man I could get into that, that would be something cool,'” Grubb said. “From a young age, I dreamed of that. My hometown card shop will always have a place in my heart.”

Grubb, like many other business owners, seriously considered shutting his doors for good after being forced to close by Governor Beshear’s executive orders.

But, with Grubb’s online sales up 20 to 30 percent during the pandemic, his storefront location continues to dwindle in revenue.

“I honestly really considered calling it quits and running it out of my basement or building a building behind my house and putting my internet stock and stuff in. I really considered closing because I don’t like being controlled,” Grubb told WNKY.

But to Grubb, his building represents more than just a store, it’s a safe haven for him.

“If I get kids in here collecting cards, or their parents buying them cards, they could be spending that money on drugs, or they could be buying alcohol,” Grubb said. “If I can keep one kid of drugs or off the street, it’s been a blessing to me.”

Will Boothe has been visiting the store for as long as he can remember and echoes that welcoming atmosphere that Grubb strives for.

“I can just stop by and say ‘hey’ or ‘what’s up’. I don’t even have to buy anything, I just come in and see how he’s doing. I always feel welcome here, that’s why I keep coming back,” Booth said.

Grubb’s influence reaches beyond just his customers. His kids are also reaping the benefits of his decision to quit his full-time job to exclusively run his card business.

“I can do all this and still pay my health insurance, still get to spend more time with my family than I did, it’s just been a blessing.”

Every day that Grubb comes to work is another day spent in the memory of his father.

“It’s cardboard love. I’ve always loved cards ever since my dad got me into it. It turned from my dad buying my first set of cards, to us going to card shows, and it’s the memories and that attachment to Dad. My dad is no longer here, so it means that much more to me,” Grubb said.