The story of The Sports Card Vault really starts many years ago, in the cramped, sweltering kitchen of the Crystal Springs Dairy Bar, the busiest ice cream joint in the foothills of western Massachusetts. It was there in the blazing summer heat, with sweat pouring down my forehead all day long, scooping Chocolate Chip ice cream for kids and moms from all over New England, that I first learned what hard work was really all about.
That’s a very important part of this story, because running a sports card store is a whole lot of hard work.
From early on, I was always the hard-working guy in charge it seems, taking care of my baseball teammates as captain and pitcher, caring for my brothers and sisters as the oldest child, and then later, leading my co-workers as Executive Director of major performing arts centers in Massachusetts and Florida.
The first-born son of a Boston schoolteacher from Southie, my Dad sent me off to work at the young age of 12 and I never looked back.
I loved clocking in each day at the restaurant like a real working man, running my ice cream stand and making people smile, as I handed them a double scoop of their favorite dessert. Everyone appreciated my hard work. It was a simple transaction, repeated day after day, all summer long. Since then, I’ve never stopped hustling and working, busting my butt, trying to make my customers happy.
But all these years since, the idea of running my own company burned inside. I really wanted to take care of my customers and employees the way I wanted to, rather than how some corporate big shot told me how to do it. And of course, like lots of folks, I probably watched a little too much Shark Tank.
In college at the University of Massachusetts, I got my first taste of being an entrepreneur, as I bought and sold sports cards and memorabilia to customers all over the country. I worked out of my tiny apartment on the outskirts of Amherst, MA, doing a healthy mail order business, and I traveled to sports card shows all over New England, setting up my display cases and wheeling and dealing Michael Jordan and Larry Bird rookie cards. Man, I loved running my own sports card business!
But after college, like a lot of guys, I lost touch with the hobby, and entered corporate America. I worked for some of the biggest private facility management firms in the theater business, excelling everywhere I went, but that entrepreneurial spirit just wouldn’t go away. I wanted to control my own destiny in life. So, I did what most people dream of doing, but never do. I left my cushy theater management job paying $160,000 a year and started my own company www.artscentermanagement.com Whoa! Was I nuts or what?
Well, apparently not. My gut instincts on how to make my customers happy, how to take care of my key employees, and my expertise on how to turn around struggling theaters has paid off big time. Arts Center Management is off and running and proving even the “little guys” can stand out in a crowd if they work hard enough.
With all this success running my own theater management company, I began to think again of other dreams I had cast aside. When the pandemic hit, I started getting into the hobby again and caught the bug. If you’re reading this, you know what I mean.
It’s hard to explain to people who don’t collect sports cards, but those that have the passion for it, live, eat and breathe it every day. It’s a real passion for fathers, mothers, sons and daughters all over the country. We are all one big family. And I wanted to build a sports card community in my little slice of South Florida, in northwest Broward County, the Coral Springs/Parkland/Boca Raton area.
So, like a lot of guys who dream of opening up a card store, I hatched a plan to just do it!
I studied the sports card market for two years during the pandemic, relearning the hobby I loved as a kid. I scoured commercial real estate ads looking for the perfect location and space. I finally found a truly unique 1,700 square foot space next to two landmark restaurants in Coral Springs, Runyon’s and Wings Plus. And three months later, in October of 2022, The Sports Card Vault was born.
We designed The Sports Card Vault to be a classy, very organized store, with seating to hang out, and different themed rooms, showcasing Vintage Cards (1946-1981), Modern Cards (1982-2011) and Ultra Modern Cards (2012-present). We will also be showcasing unique memorabilia, autographed material, and much more.
And of course we’ll have Pokémon!
We’ve worked hard to create a special place for those that love the hobby to come and visit, get their sports card fix, and hang out and meet new friends. A real sports card community.
Like a lot of successful guys, I really don’t think any of this would have ever been possible if it wasn’t for my Dad. He taught me how to work hard and have dreams. Even after working all day, he would put on his catcher’s mitt and take me into the backyard after dinner and have a catch. His work ethic was extraordinary. He took me to Fenway Park and the old Boston Garden too many times to count. Even though we had little money. I never realized how much that all rubbed off on me until he was gone and I got older.
Our relationship was a lot like that scene at the end of Field of Dreams. My Dad was a quiet man, didn’t say much, like a lot of men from The Greatest Generation. But his impact on me was enormous. He would have loved hanging out at The Sports Card Vault.
So Dad, it’s been a long, long time, but wherever you are, thanks for pushing me to be the best. This new card store is dedicated to you.
— Kevin Barrett, Owner, The Sports Card Vault