Interview with Steve Hart
By: Shane Salmonson
Looking for unopened boxes of cards from years past? Your best bet is to check out Baseball Card Exchange. Baseball Card Exchange is not only a brick-and-mortar card shop in Schererville, Indiana, but also an internet retailer, and eBay seller with over 77,000 positive feedback! Behind “The largest vintage unopened inventory on the internet” is owner Steve Hart. Steve was kind enough to answer a few questions about owning a thriving shop, entering its 28th year in business!
BU: Are you a collector? If so, what do you currently collect?
SH: While it is difficult for me to collect anything, I do keep autographed index cards of pre-war HOFers in baseball. Ruth, Foxx, Ott, Young, etc.
BU: How did you decide to open up your own shop?
SH: I was actually finishing up my second year at Purdue and really didn’t care for what I was studying. I decided to take a shot and really do what I wanted to do. Quitting school was the best decision I ever made!!
BU: I post a weekly blog series called #CheapWaxWednesday. Most of those boxes come from your web site. You have an incredible variety available of older products. Is this something you tried to do when you opened, or something that just seemed to happen?
SH: I always wanted to have a good selection of newer products when I opened. Then over the years, we decided to go back into the older products as we kept getting requests for them.
BU: How are you able to keep such a variety of older products in stock?
SH: It isn’t easy as more and more of the product seems to dry up all the time! I have a few employees who do nothing but buy for us. They travel all over the country, buying up collections, stores and hoards of inventory that people have decided to sell.
BU: With that much product on hand can you give us an idea of what your backroom/warehouse looks like?
SH: 12,000 square feet, full of 12 foot shelves. All filled with product and cards. I never thought that I would be in the baseball card business and own a forklift!!
BU: That is very impressive, it must be like walking into cardboard heaven, right?
SH: We let people walk around in the warehouse and they are amazed. We often host the Boy Scouts or other similar groups. I ask the kids what “a lot of baseball cards” would be to them. We then walk them into the warehouse and they are in shock. However, the parents are the ones in more amazement!
BU: What have been some of the highlights through the years? Any special guest appearances that stand out?
SH: We have had some great autograph guests at our store. Bobby Hull, Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko, Dennis Rodman, Pierre Pilote, Tony Esposito, Jose Abreu, Ric Flair. WWWOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
BU: Has anything been hot lately? Which products seem to be flying off the shelves?
SH: Anything with Tom Brady in it. LeBron James products are always selling also. Seems to be a strong interest in Conor McDavid too!
BU: What is the best part about owning your own card shop?
SH: Not having a boss above me to tell me/us what to do!
BU: That sounds pretty amazing to me! Any advice for anyone who hopes to someday open their own shop?
SH: Honesty and integrity. Not having both will catch up to you eventually, then your reputation is done.
A big thank you to Steve for taking the time to answer a few questions! While I am a frequent internet customer of Baseball Card Exchange, I hope to someday visit the shop in person and check that cardboard heaven out for myself!
Baseball Card Exchange