Card shops have died off at an alarming rate, down from some 5,000 in the early '90s to 500 now, according to Sports Collector's Digest—but the original Upper Deck shop in Anaheim still exists, albeit under a different name at a different location, neither of which Geideman is completely sure about. Our first stop is at its original location, a minimall at the corner of State College and La Palma, in a dreary section of town. Its old address—1050 State College Boulevard—no longer exists. A guy running the minimall's pet store tells us that the shop moved a short drive south on State College 17 years ago.
The shop has been renamed Win Lose or Draw Sportswear, and when we get there, Bruce Gershenoff is the only one inside. He bought The Upper Deck from Hemrick in 1988 for $50,000, and the shop is now a '90s time warp: Aside from a shelf of New Era fitted hats, most of the clothing hasn't been updated in 15 years. After Geideman reintroduces himself (they met in '88), Gershenoff explains why he changed the name. When the card market started crashing in '93 and Upper Deck's corporate offices fell behind on payments for services and supplies, their bad credit seeped into Gershenoff's rating and hampered his ability to restock the store.
He incorporated as Win Lose or Draw in '95 but had already given up on cards a year earlier, around the time of the baseball strike, a tipping point for the card industry. "My sales from '88 to '92 were $10,000 to $13,000 a month, and the cost of goods was only $1,000 to $2,000 a month," Gershenoff says. "Then they started putting out so much product, raising the price on packs and putting in chase cards that caused people to stop trying to make sets. Kids ran away. Hobbyists got aggravated because they couldn't afford everything, and speculators backed off because of oversaturation. By '94 my sales were $3,000 a month, and new products were up to $5,000 a month. I had to get out."
He still has some old packs near the cash register. I ask what he does with them.
"I don't even do a hundred a month in cards now," Gershenoff says, "so if somebody comes in and spends $25, I give them a 50-cent pack: '88 Score, '91 Fleer. If they spend $50, I give them a dollar pack: '91 Stadium Club, '91 Upper Deck. A lot of people say, 'I don't want them.' I'll ask, 'Maybe you have a neighbor who's been a good kid?' And sometimes they'll say, 'O.K., I've got a nephew or some Jack I can give them to,' but a lot of times it's just, 'No thanks. I've got a ton sitting at home and nothing to do with them.'"
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