Jacob Fallis vividly remembers the first time he walked into his local card shop to make his first big card purchase.
The future Pokepawn Cardshop owner had his heart set on one card — the highly sought after first edition Charizard that at the time was worth $50.
As an avid sports card collector, his father tried to talk him out of it by suggesting he purchase a Tim Duncan rookie card instead.
Fallis went with the rare Charizard card that would eventually more than quadruple in value over the future Hall of Fame athlete.
Looking back on it today, Fallis is confident he made the right decision.
It was card shop experiences such as that one that inspired the father and son to turn collecting into a business.
But when Fallis finally opened the card shop he never imagined one day he would see some of his collection scattered across the floor — trampled by three burglars in their haste to flee the scene.
Fallis, who has been preparing for his upcoming wedding, got the call early Monday morning and rushed over to see it for himself.
“That 30-minute car ride felt like an hour to me — we couldn’t get there fast enough,” Fallis said. “As soon as I pulled up we saw the glass shattered — it was just the realization of what truly happened and our worst fears or nightmares were actually coming (true). I’ve had nightmares where our shop is being broken into and it was almost as if I was living that.”
One of the first things Fallis did was check in on some of his most valuable cards.
“I would see one of my cards or one of my customer’s cards that I was expecting to be gone and it was there and I was like, ‘Oh, thank God,’” the store owner said. “I would look at another card that was on the floor and the damage, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to recover?’ I felt like Joe Exotic — ‘How am I ever gonna financially recover?’”
While some of his more valuable cards were overlooked by the burglars, the Charizards were gone.
The ever-fluctuating price of cards taken and damaged is near impossible to calculate and the team of three 20- and 30-something-year-olds is still trying to assess the loss.
The store estimates the burglars made off with over 100 high end cards worth $50 or more, and 200 cards new to the store valued anywhere from $1 to $500.
Dealing with a break-in is difficult enough for a fairly new business, but when businesses are ramping up for the holidays a burglary can be catastrophic.
When the suspects entered the store they broke the window along with a glass case, and to fix the damage the shop is closing for up to two weeks.
Losing the first week or two of holiday sales is a huge loss for the shop specializing in sports and anime collectibles.
When the burglary occurred, the shop was preparing to roll out its holiday offerings after seeing some early record-breaking sales.
The shop, which normally closes for the holiday week, was planning to open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so families could start Christmas shopping — the burglary changed all of that.
“I was excited for kids coming in and start building their Christmas list, and a lot of our families kind of use that time to come in and pre-Christmas shop and get those Christmas lists in order and we’re not going to be there,” Fallis said.
The shop will continue to sell online — but it won’t be the same.
When customers are welcomed into the store it’s with the intention of connecting with kids and teaching parents about the world of collecting.
“We’re just here to hang out and talk, so we’ve built a really strong culture around the hobby,” Fallis said.
That’s one of manager Ricardo Villarreal Jr’s favorite parts about working at the store.
“What I love about this shop is … when kids come in they get so excited and so happy that it makes me think of when I was little and what it would have been like if I went to a card shop like that,” Villarreal said. “The welcoming feeling — that’s what it’s all about.”
Since the burglary there’s been an outpouring of community support with many taking to social media to voice their outrage over the incident and extend well wishes for the business.
With the support of the community and the resilience of those who run the store, the brains behind the operation is optimistic the store will come back stronger and better than ever.