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21Country: Father, son take us inside world of collectable sports cards

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Alan and Matt Loshe are sports fanatics, and even more so when it involves collectible sports cards.

They founded their LLC, Father & Son Sports Card Connection, in 2016, but the idea first came to Matt decades ago.

“The idea came about back in 1991 and that’s whenever I remember… I was 11 years old I was helping dad put together a 1991 Donruss set of baseball cards,” he recalled, “I still remember this, vividly - but looking at him and saying, ‘man wouldn’t it be awesome if we owned a sports card business together.’”

Then 11-year-old Matt would later grow up, go to college, and start a family.

His love for collecting cards would never disappear, but often times life made it impossible to keep up.

His father, Alan, comes from a big family who lived on a farm.

Though they weren't big into sports, he used it as an outlet for his energy, and his passion of collecting cards soon followed.

But that too was sidelined by other responsibilities.

At 16, Alan started working at a meat market - a position he would hold for around 40 years, supporting his family first and foremost.

But when he retired and Matt had more free time, the two started where they left off in 1991, officially launching their business.

The past few years have been quite a learning experience for the duo.

“So many times I just think I love doing what I’m doing now,” Alan said, “I love sports, I love sports cards too, and to do it with my son?”

“He had a dream in ’91, not me! It wouldn’t happen without him,” he continued.

Matt, a teacher at SACS, often recruits his four daughters to help with tasks that involve going through hundreds or thousands of cards.

Their family has had no choice, but to embrace the father and son’s obsession.

“There’s a reality that if we’re going to be spending this amount of time investing in this,” Matt explained, “our wives are going to expect that we make a profit in this - and that’s how business works.”

When Matt dreamed of starting his business, he imagined it would be a “brick and mortar” storefront.

But eBay and social media have changed how collectibles are sold.

And mistakes were made along the way.

“We’d sell a card for $1 or $1.50 and then shipping and then you make a profit of 47 cents and its like wait a second?” Matt said, “It’s like we spent too much time to make it worth it.”

“Recently, within the last couple years, the sports card market has just taken off,” he told us.

And prices reflect that.

Though some cards only sell for several cents, or sold together in bulk for a higher dollar amount, the rarest can fetch thousands.

On the Loshe’s eBay account, they have two Tom Brady cards, one listed for $2,499.99 and another for $6,999.99.

Real world events like the Super Bowl can impact card worth.

When Kobe Bryant died in 2020, all their memorabilia tied to the NBA star sold overnight.

They estimate 60% of their sales are online, the other 40% with return customers, relationships they’ve built locally.

They also buy online.

And there’s checks and balances to make sure what they buy, is legit.

“There’s a couple of different companies that grade cards, and basically the idea behind grading a card is that they will guarantee its authenticity,” Matt said.

Over the years, they’ve amassed an impressive, estimated, 250,000 cards, split up between Matt, Alan’s, and another relative’s house.

The “connection” in their business’ name, is also important to them.

Matt and Alan are often asked into customers’ homes, evaluating old collections and bonding with people over the love of sports.

“We like to make sure that our customers understand that they can trust us,” Matt said, “that means if somebody does bring us a collection to look at we’re going to give them the fair market value.”

While its uncertain at this time, if Father & Son Sports Card Connection will open a physical location, for now the Loshe’s will continue to do what they love so much.

“I grew up and dad was my hero, you know? He was the one I would throw the ball with, play basketball with, and as I got older talk about the Bible together with and pray together with,” Matt told us, ”to have the opportunity to run this business with him has definitely been a blessing.”

“It makes me feel great. I’m glad that he sees it that way. As parents we know how many mistakes we make along the line,” Alan responded with, “I love it. I love working with him and I don’t take it for granted at all because I understand how special this is.”

You can check out Father & Son Sports Card Connection and their services here, and see some of their inventory listed on eBay.

They’ll also be at a booth at the monthly card show at the Allen County Fairgrounds April 17.

RELATED: Sports card shows return to Allen County Fairgrounds

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Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is the producer of the ABC21 feature franchise “21Country”. He is constantly on the lookout for ideas that capture the “people, places, things, and history” that makes Northeast Indiana unique. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

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