Charlie Heinisch Jr. has been opening sports card packs since 1979 when he was 7 years old. By the early 1980’s he was set building, flipping cards and trading with neighborhood friends. His love for the hobby eventually led to opening booths in flea markets and antique malls to sell cards. In November of 2015, his ultimate dream was realized when he opened his very own card shop in Warner Robins, GA. Today, Middle Georgia Sportscards and Collectibles is one of the most popular Card Shops in Georgia. I recently sat down with Charlie to discuss the success of the shop and his thoughts on the current state of the hobby.
BU – Welcome Charlie, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. I guess I should lead off with an easy question. What led you to want to open a shop and when did you first start to consider the possibility?
CH – My pleasure, thanks for having me. It has really been a lifelong dream of mine to open a real card shop. I’ve tried flea markets and antique malls but really wanted my own shop. After a life changing event for me and my family, we decided that the time was right to give it a shot.
BU – I’m sure that was a big endeavor for you. What were some of the steps you had to take to get the shop opened?
CH – Finding a location was tough with not knowing where the best and most affordable location would be. I knew that I wanted to go with a small location off one of the main roadways in Warner Robins. Also, since I had been an avid collector most of my life, I had a lot of stock in cards. But opening a shop required display cases, shelving and licenses so I had to work on those items too.
BU – Now that you have been open for a couple of years, what has been your favorite part of being a shop owner?
CH – Great question and it may be odd but I really get joy from seeing the collectors reaction to even having a shop in town. They are excited to see that a shop does exist and they have a place to go. I really, truly love this hobby and have always believed that if you build a shop, hobbyists will find you.
BU – I can certainly understand that angle. I miss the days when there were card shops in every city and card shows every weekend. It is great to have local options when looking for cards. In contrast, what has been the most challenging aspect of being a shop owner?
CH – It was hard for me to realize that, although it’s a hobby, somehow I need to make a living out of this too. I have to pay the bills and rent. This is a disposable income type of hobby and business. You have to get creative to keep collectors interested in the hobby. We try to keep things fresh and interactive at the shop.
BU – That really leads into another question I had. In a world where online availability makes running a brick and mortar shop more difficult, what sort of fun ideas have you put into practice to try and set you apart?
CH – The online market place has largely destroyed the brick and mortar shop. However, one must evolve and be creative with generating interest. We offer box/case breaks and hold those here at the shop and on FaceBook live, we have trade nights at the shop and we promote local shows for collectors. We even give discounts to kids who bring their report cards in quarterly. It promotes good grades for good deals.
BU – Speaking of card shows, I know that your store has been vital in bringing card shows back to Middle and South Georgia. Have you seen growth in the desire for shows, guest appearances and overall general interest in the hobby due to those shows?
CH – Yes; more so centered around baseball than any other sport. My family and I have worked very hard to keep spreading the news about the shows, the shop and most importantly, the hobby. We need collectors to have an interest. People love the card shows, the deals they can find and especially looking through the treasure boxes of cards!
BU – When and where is your next show?
CH – We have two shows in September. The first is at the Hilton Garden Inn in McDonough GA on 9/9/17. The second show will be held at the Holiday Inn in Macon GA on 9/23/17.
BU – Back to the store, what is available at your shop from a product perspective?
CH – We specialize in the latest wax packs/boxes; mainly baseball but also carry football, basketball and even soccer. We carry all the latest supplies needed for our collectors. We also have a selection of memorabilia items and autographed photos.
BU – What’s hot in the shop right now?
CH – Rookie cards are back, especially those who are performing well right now like Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger and Rafael Devers. The hobby is driven on rookie production and these guys are producing.
BU – I know that products are released often in today’s market. What new product are you most looking forward to that isn’t out yet?
CH – I am a Bowman rookie card collector so I am looking forward to Bowman Chrome releasing in September. I’m also looking forward to Bowman Draft releasing in December.
BU – I understand you attended the recent National Show in Chicago. Tell us about your experience.
CH – The show is a 5-day show and we were there for 2 ½ days. My first overall thought was that it was overwhelming. It really was. Then I felt like a kid in a candy store. Every card that you’ve ever wanted is at the National. I saw memorabilia from Babe Ruth’s bat to Michael Jordan’s jersey to every modern day player’s autograph. I enjoyed seeing the vintage bobble heads and vintage cards from the Tobacco era to Mickey Mantle. The Babe Ruth autographed baseballs were great to see as well as the Michael Jordan Rookies. Did I mention it was very overwhelming?
BU – I can only imagine! I will get to a National very soon. Lastly, the hobby appears to be as healthy as it has been since we were kids. What do you attribute that to?
CH – It’s like anything important to each individual. The hobby must be relevant to the individual. We must keep the hobby going by sharing in its excitement with each generation. We must remember that it’s a hobby and keep the excitement alive from the time we opened our first pack and let the kids enjoy it. We should teach them to collect what they like for memories and not focus so much on monetary value.
BU – Again thanks for your time Charlie and best of luck with your continued success of the shop!
Middle Georgia Sportscards and Collectibles
1107 Russell B Parkway, Suite B2
Warner Robins, GA 31088
Open Monday – Saturday 12pm-6pm and Sunday 12pm-4pm
Facebook – Middle Georgie Sportscards and Collectibles