AUGUSTA — Collecting sports cards might not be a traditional family hobby, but the whole Fallos family of Wayne has gotten involved.
At the Central Maine Sports Cards and Collectibles Show, River Fallos, 14, sold baseball cards from his collection. He also sold belonging to his father, Tom.
Meanwhile, Paxton Fallos, 11, ran around the Augusta Elks Lodge making trades and buying signed sports jerseys.
“My dad (got us involved).” He collected them as a kid,” River Fallos said while selling cards from a table. “When I was younger, I would open packs and get excited. Now, it has developed a lot more. Now, it’s like a business.”
Tom Fallos said he showed his children his collection when they were young. He got involved in sports cards when he was young because Billy Klaus, his great-uncle, played for the Boston Red Sox. Since then, Fallos said has not stopped, and now runs his own business creating and selling card mashups. A mashup is a combination of two or more pieces of content or media to create something new.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, card trading and selling now involves more people than ever, according to those who own businesses. In central Maine, there are a few card shops, including Gilley’s Sport Card in Waterville and Fuss-Budget Sports Cards in Augusta are the main stores in the area.
Legacy Sports Cards in Saco opened last month after seeing the demand for collecting and selling sports cards. Owner Mike Goulet opened the store with a friend and has been collecting sports cards for almost 30 years. He agreed the number of collectors has increased during the pandemic.
“The pandemic brought new people into it,” Goulet said. “It’s something to do. It’s extra money, and some people buy them to sell them. It’s a new market.”
The Central Maine Sports Cards and Collectables Show, which ran from 9 am to 2 pm Sunday, had professional authenticators assessing sports cards and a place for collectors and offered stores to sell their cards. Card sales ranged from $1 to $500.
With authenticators at the show, buyers could check out their purchases on the spot.
Zach Ahlstrom was on the authentication team and said by 10:30 am, there was only one fake item, but there would soon be more. The fake was a “signed” picture plaque of retired baseball player Kirby Puckett. The most-common fakes are of players with great fame, such Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
Ahlstrom said there is a database of more than 20,000 files used to authenticate cards. It is based on the judgment of about five people who keep score on what they think is real or fake. In addition to sports cards, there were Pokémon cards and farmed, signed photographs of sports stars.
Many who came to Sunday’s show said they picked up collecting cards by seeing others doing it.
Aaron Werner, owner of Maineiacs Collectibles at The Maine Mall in South Portland, said he has seen interest in sports cards grow during the pandemic, including many younger children and women getting involved. He said business for him has been “amazing.”
“Some dads got back into it since everyone is home during the pandemic,” Werner said. “Husbands, wives, kids — everyone is getting involved. It used to be male-dominated — like 95 (to) 5 — but now more females are getting involved, and it’s like 80-20 now.”
And that is exactly how Randi Gurski got involved.
Gurski said she started collecting hockey cards after watching her friend, John Rogerson, get excited when opening a new pack of cards or when he found a card for which he had been searching.
Rogerson said he began collecting sports cards as a boy growing up in Orono. His first pack of cards was of the University of Maine men’s hockey team, and he has since collected NHL cards — mainly the Boston Bruins.
Rogerson traveled from the Bangor area and Gurski from Watervilleto to attend Sunday’s card show in Augusta. Last week, they attended a card show in Bangor, but Gurski said the turnout in Augusta was far larger, allowing them to meet many people.
The most lucky person of the day?
Elliot Kendall, 4, who searched far and wide for a Pokémon card —specifically, Pikachu.
Elliot came to the event with his mother, Autumn Kendall, his baby brother and his father, who got him into collecting cards.
Elliot found the card for $1, his mother said, and it made his day as he walked through the crowd while proudly holding the card.
“Every card I got, I wondered if it would be Pikachu,” said Elliot, who now has a complete collection.
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