Local business: New baseball card store comes to Salisbury

Published 11:48 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024


By Mike London

SALISBURY — It’s a quiet Tuesday afternoon in Salisbury, and Caleb Galloway, the young manager of Score More Sports, politely offers a greeting to the occasional curious passerby who cautiously enters the spacious shop.

Tuesday was the first official day of business for Score More Sports, located at 118 South Main Street, not far from Salisbury’s busiest intersection at Main and Innes streets.

Baseball card stores are famous for clutter, with cards and boxes everywhere, floor to ceiling, but that phase is still in the future for Galloway. Right now, the infant store is still pristinely clean, neatly organized, with a number of showcases and tables still waiting to be filled.

Things will be picking up, he hopes, by Saturday, as word spreads that downtown Salisbury is back in the baseball card business. That’s when the official grand opening will be held.

Galloway, a 2020 Lexington High graduate, is confident of success in downtown Salisbury. He’s been managing the original Score More Sports store that’s located in a Winston-Salem shopping center for several years.

“Score More Sports in Winston opened back in 2011, and it’s been very successful,” Galloway said. “The owner is aware of what a sports-minded town Salisbury is and we’ve seen what a great turnout they always have for the card shows in Salisbury. We feel like we’ve got a really good location here.”

Score More Sports has neighbors such as Ultimate Sports Apparel, which should help as far as casual walk-in traffic. They’re offering completely different wares, but both cater to sports-minded customers.

Galloway has been commuting daily from Lexington to Winston-Salem, so he’s looking forward to a much more placid drive from Lexington to Salisbury. He’ll be the weekday guy at the Salisbury store. There will a different person coming in for the weekends, once the store is established.

Galloway entered the card business as a collector, and he still is. His team is the Atlanta Braves. His favorite player is Ronald Acuna.

“I understand why the vintage collectors collect what they do because they like to collect those guys they grew up watching,” Galloway said. “But for me, it’s more the guys like Acuna that are playing right now.”

And then there’s Victor Wembayana.

A giant autographed Wembayana item dominates a wall of Score More Sports. It may be the most valuable item in the store.

“Part of the store and not for sell,” Galloway said with a laugh.

“Wemby,” of course, is a basketball phenom.

Whenever you talk about baseball cards, you’re also usually talking about the related sports cards. There’s basketball and football, but also wrestling, hockey and racing, among others.

The showcases at Score More Sports display a wide variety of single cards for sale, nice cards, but not exceptionally pricey ones. Most are in the $10 to $25 range and are affordable to almost every collector.

Baseball card stores normally do the bulk of their business selling packs and unopened boxes of cards, rather than single cards, because the packs are where the fun of the hobby is. There’s a certain thrill that comes from tearing open a pack of cards and not knowing what might emerge. That’s especially true of the modern cards, which have packs carefully seeded by card producers with autographs and serial-numbered cards with limited print runs.

On the counter stand stacks of brand new boxes of the Topps Series 2 baseball cards. There’s a $24.99 price sticker, and you get 84 cards. That’s a far cry from the days of the late 1980s when you could buy a new box of 540 cards for under $15, but the late 1980s also brought print runs in the millions and a market over-saturation which nearly wrecked the hobby.

A lot fewer cards are produced now, and there’s a reasonable chance that $24.99 box will yield a single card worth more than $24.99 if you can find the right person to buy it.

Baseball card collecting has been around a long time. Sold with tobacco near the start of the 20th century, cards gradually became bubble gum cards, with Topps emerging as the dominant brand in the 1950s. Cards of the key players from the 1950s and 1960s — Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax — are worth small fortunes now.

“Rookie cards,” the first appearance of a player on a card, are especially prized. A single Pete Rose rookie card from the 1963 Topps set generated a $2,000 transaction at the most recent Salisbury card show.

Galloway’s father was his gateway to the hobby. His father got into the hobby as a customer of Chandy Greenholt, who operated stores in Lexington, and then Winston-Salem, and was a fixture at baseball card shows for decades. Greenholt was among the leading card experts in the nation before his death in 2023.

As was the case with Greenholt, a hobby has blossomed into a business opportunity for Galloway.

“I’m young, but I’ve been collecting long enough to have seen times when no one wanted baseball cards, and I’ve also seen times when everyone wanted them,” Galloway said.

Baseball card interest experienced a monumental boom in the 1980s, then died down to a whisper, as investors pulled out and prices started falling. The 1994 season with no World Series was the last straw for many.

There was a significant comeback generated by the COVID years. People were cooped up. They dug their cards out of drawers and attics. There was a surge in interest, and when investor dollars started flowing back into the hobby, prices experienced huge jumps.

“There definitely was a re-boom during COVID,” Galloway said. “It was driven by nostalgia. Card prices went up a lot.”

Prices have continued to trend upward for years, at least as far as those items where there’s strong demand and limited supply. Some key cards sell for 10 times now what they would have brought prior to COVID. A $500 Hank Aaron rookie card in 2018 is now a $5,000 card.

But Galloway isn’t expecting to make a go of it in Salisbury selling Hank Aaron rookies. Those are from 1954, so they aren’t likely to come strolling into the store in a shoe box.

Much of the traffic at card shows for single cards is based on collectors prowling through boxes in bargain bins — $1, $3 and $5 cards of their favorite teams or players. Score More Sports has card tables and chairs set up so that people can sit and sift through such boxes at their leisure as they do at shows.

Galloway said the Salisbury store has about triple the space of the one in Winston-Salem. He’s excited about the possibilities that offers.

A full line of collecting supplies is in stock. Those plastic sheets, card albums, storage boxes and sleeves for individual cards are a vital part of the hobby.

Galloway said the store will lean heavily on selling sports cards, but unopened boxes of Pokémon cards will be available.

As far as buying cards from the public, Score More Sports is in the market for “vintage cards” produced prior to 1979 and for certain “ultra-modern cards” produced after 2010.

“The goal is to have a store that’s customer-friendly and has a welcoming environment,” Galloway said. “I’ve got a lot of experience from the Winston-Salem store. We’ve got a good idea of what works to be successful, and we hope to be in Salisbury a long time.”

Store hours are listed as 10 to 6, Tuesday through Saturday.