On the Job: Card collector

Jim Tozzi embraces his niche. While others in the sports collectibles business peddle their autographs, trading cards and photos online to an infinite audience, Tozzi is quite satisfied in his Sports Archives store on Cleveland Avenue NW in Canton.

Jim Tozzi embraces his niche. While others in the sports collectibles business peddle their autographs, trading cards and photos online to an infinite audience, Tozzi is quite satisfied in his Sports Archives store on Cleveland Avenue NW in Canton.

“Stores like this, we’re like dinosaurs,” he said.

With more than two decades as a collectibles store owner—including the last five at 2677 Cleveland Avenue NW—Tozzi has resisted selling items on the likes of ebay.

“Where else can you go to see it, touch, smell it?” he said. “I sell at ebay prices in person. I sell to a lot of the guys who then go sell online.”

Tozzi is 56 years old.

His wife is a retired school teacher.

He probably will stay in collectibles forever.

“I think it’s become a little easier, as I’ve increased my inventory over the years,” he said. “One of the most exciting things is you never know who will walk through that door.”

Like the roughly 100 Goudey baseball cards from the 1930s, including a few Babe Ruths. Generally, the bigger the star, the more valuable the card. What’s more, a star’s “rookie” card is always most valuable—that’s the first year a player’s image appeared on a card.

Tozzi started collecting as a kid. Later, he got into a family convenience store business, where he became more immersed, as the store sold new packs of baseball and football cards. It just sort of morphed from there.

At his Sports Archives store, Tozzi sells new and used cards. Football is slightly more popular than baseball locally. The reverse is true nationally. He also offers up a smattering of collectibles, including autographs.

“It’s gotten more complicated … it’s more of an adult game,” Tozzi said.

The days of kids buying cards a pack at a time, slipping the cards into bicycle spokes and trading with their friends are long gone. So are the days when one brand—Topps—ruled the market. Today, there are dozens of manufacturers.

Armed with an online price guide, Tozzi buys and sells cards at market rate, or at least as close as he can get to it. He’s done well enough to help support himself and his family for the past two decades, with no end in sight.

“I don’t think I’ll ever quit,” he said.

Sports Archives is sponsoring a “Hall of Fame” sports cards, collectibles and autograph show August 7 to 9 at Grand Slam USA, 5656 Dressler Road NW. More than a half-dozen football hall of famers will be on hand, selling their autographs.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass