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Family’s love of collectibles turns into a family business

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Chuck Whisman’s home was filled with trading cards and memorabilia. Even his young daughters would comment on how their dining room table was completely hidden by the goods.

But everything has been moved into Whisman’s new card shop in Lancaster, Pa. – VSM Sports Card Outlet, which opened in August.

“The thought of just doing the shop is a little scary these days,” Whisman said. “You don’t see shops alone anymore.”

That’s why Whisman has turned his love of collectibles into a family business with him running the shop, his wife as an auctioneer for their other new company Wheatland Auctions and his young daughters offering up their brand of advice along the way.

While at the National Sports Collectors Convention in August, his daughters gave suggestions to Topps during its question and answer session with collectors. His daughters Hannah, 9, Audrey, 8, and Lauren, 6, asked Topps to make more cards for girls and recently sent them a list of ideas that included fairy cards, Rookie Cards for celebrity actresses and singers, Princess cards (a mix of real-life and fiction princesses) and hits such as pressed flower cards or encased butterflies.

“Topps has been really receptive,” Whisman said. “And we’d love to see where this goes.”

His wife Stacey is the auctioneer for Wheatland Auctions, which specializes in sports auctions and other collectibles. Their latest auction concludes this weekend and features a dual-signed baseball from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (authenticated by JSA), a complete set of 1962 Topps baseball cards, and a 1958 New York Yankees World Series Championship baseball (authenticated by JSA).

Click here to visit the auction.

One of the interesting things Whisman discovered when opening his store was just how much people needed guidance when it came to their collections.

“A lot of people need help with an exit strategy to their collections,” Whisman said. “They are downsizing, retiring or they want to raise money. I find a lot of what we do is helping guide people on how they can maximize return.”

Whisman’s advice has included auction houses, consignments in the shop or selling items on the internet. He’s had customers come in with interesting stories as to why they need to sell their items.

“It’s almost like I can write a book on the stories of the people who come into our store,” Whisman said.

There was one man who is retiring, moving out of his home looking to sell his collection of autographs from 1938. Another family was looking to do something special with memorabilia their child, who was a hemophiliac, had collected over the years.

“A unique aspect that I didn’t expect was a way to help people sell collections and collectibles,” Whisman said. “There are a lot of online resources, blogs and websites out there. We are trying to be that medium across all the different collectors. We’re bringing together different types of collectors.”

Bill Fuhrman, a collector and former storeowner in the 1980s and 1990s, manages the store. Whisman is the Chief Technology Officer of an environmental engineering company, and appreciates having Fuhrman’s expertise in his shop.

VSM also has special guest autograph signers such as former Phillies manager Larry Bowa who signed at the store last weekend.

Susan Lulgjuraj is an editor at Beckett Media. You can email her here with questions, comments or ideas. Follow her on Twitter here. Follow Beckett Media on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

7 Comments

Lucas

Been to his shop a few times to sell and buy. I was so happy getting a second LCS here in Lancaster. He’s a great guy with some sick cards.

Posted November 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
Jesse D. Searfoss

I stopped into this store two weeks ago on a Sunday. I went because I am a serious collector in the area and any new store would be of interest.
I found the store, while admittedly a little small, to be well organized and supported by friendly and outgoing staff. The owner was present and “hands on” in a good manner.
VSM also appears to be working to bring in local talent for smaller autogrpah sessions, and to support the local collectort with everything from dollar cards to high end memorabilia.
You have to wish luck to any collector willing to take this leap to a store location, and it certainly is a good sign for the hobby if kids in the area (which is full of adult outlet stores) might walk and develop a new hobby while parents shop elsewhere.

Posted November 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink
David Brewer

cool story bro. good luck

Posted November 22, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
Trey

Sounds like a great family. Best of luck as well.

Posted November 22, 2013 at 11:40 pm | Permalink
Chuck W

As the store owner, it’s been fun helping local collectors have a place to visit to meet other collectors, talk about the hobby, and hopefully find some great deals. We also enjoy helping people find ways to buy what they need or sell/trade their items. The monthly sports auctions (all months except December) are both live and internet based to make it a neat experience for local collectors and their families, while providing an opportunity for collectors to bid from anywhere – and providing the highest levels of customer service and professionalism are our core values. We also want to connect with other stores across the US.
I grew up as a young sports fan with a local shop down the street, so having the opportunity to get young fans into the hobby is rewarding (so bring your kids in and they can have some free cards and can tell us who/what they like). We’re trying to bring the local collectors together with pack wars, live auctions, in-person box breaks, charity events, autograph signings, JSA visits (next on Jan 25th), Beckett in-store grading (December 5th), and trade nights. I would like to thank Susan and the Beckett Team for writing such a nice story! We are here to help collectors – so contact us directly! We also enjoy meeting many out-of-town collectors who frequently pass through Lancaster, PA!

Posted November 22, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Permalink
Brian

I’ve been to the store and their monthly auctions and both were good experiences as a buyer. The store is unique, as it has new and old cards, as well as a mix of old vintage items (cards, bats, equipment, game used items), autographs, and more. Some stores look more like junk stores, but this one looks more like a jewelry store – with nice displays as well as boxes of cards for good prices like you find at a show. They told me they are buying stuff every week, so I want to get back frequently,. I was surprised by some of the cool stuff at the auction and they really seemed to get better prices for the high end stuff like the Ruth/Gehrig autographs, complete sets, and signed baseballs. I asked about consignment, and they have a discount percent based on what it sells for, which is attractive for me. Overall, good customer service and good people who have been helping me. It’s been cool to have BGS grade in a store and JSA authentic autographs. It is a 50 minute drive for me, but worth it. It was also different to have a woman auctioneer in our male dominated business – she was clear and seemed to know her stuff (including pronouncing the names and knowing values).

Posted November 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

I have consigned items with VSM in the past and currently continue on doing so. Great business and great people. I highly recommend checking them out!

Posted November 23, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

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