MOORHEAD - Ryan Erkenbrack is hoping that his business success is in the cards - and jerseys, sports figures and baseball bats.
Erkenbrack recently opened The Zone Sports Cards and Memorabilia at 3324 E. Highway 10, displaying a longtime passion for sports collectibles, with scores of rare cards and full season sets for baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer leagues.
"I've been collecting since I've been a kid, since I was 7 or 8," Erkenbrack said Wednesday, Oct. 10.
While the Moorhead resident has sold merchandise at card shows and online, "It's always been a dream of mine to have my own store."
The Zone opened Sept. 13 in what was once a workout facility marketed to women.
In addition to cards, figures and other memorabilia, he sells storage boxes, card sleeves, top loader card displays, display cases and collectors' price guides.
There are also boxes of sports cards sorted by teams and players, making it easier for collectors to fill holes in their collections. And Erkenbrack will search for items tied to certain teams or players for customers.
The most popular items right now are tied to Minnesota Vikings receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and North Dakota State University and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
Erkenbrack says he wanted to created a place for people to hang out, go through cards, snack and play video games. The fun and enjoyment of collecting, "that's what's important to me," he said.
Sports collectibles have for years been pegged as a multi-billion industry in the United States.
However Forbes recently reported that David Yoken, a high-tech entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Collectable.com, has sharpened the estimate to $5.4 billion annually, which includes sales through eBay (about $4.7 billion), independent auction houses ($290 million), auction house private sales ($62.5 million), and online and miscellaneous sales ($400 million).
Erkenbrack, who is married with two children, works with Pure Water Technology, supplying water systems to area businesses and nonprofits, so that limits his time at the card shop.
The Zone is open Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Erkenbrack is still deciding on how and when he will celebrate the shop's grand opening.
In the meantime, he said, the shop will host a card trading event 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18.