In days gone by, when I was growing up, if you were a card collector, you were collecting sports cards, like baseball cards.
But these days, there's a red hot different type of collectors card changing the face of collecting.
Until a few days ago, I'd never even heard of it, and maybe you haven't either.
In this story, we go "Along the Way" to learn about a magical game that's taking the card collecting world by storm.
Inside 'Heroes Magic and Sports Cards' in downtown Rapid City, you'll see the two distinct faces of card collecting. About half the store is dedicated to sports cards. It's a place where you can still see baseball legends like Harmon Killebrew, Willie Mays and Ted Williams, which is becoming an increasingly rare opportunity.
Heroes Manager Jason Starkjohann says, "A lot of brick and mortars have decided to close their doors and they've become online businesses. So collecting has, has evolved. It's no longer collecting whole sets. It's now collecting the players and teams that guys are after and with You Tube, like I said, they do box breaks where guys film themselves cracking 4 or 5 boxes and showing off all the sweet cards they pull out, the autographs, the top players."
But here in this shop they still handle most of their sports card business the old fashioned way. Jason Starkjohann, the manager here says only about 20 percent of their sports sales are done online.
Starkjohann says, "And I've had guys coming in everyday asking when the next basketball product's gonna be available. So a lot of it is in store, local people shopping."
But on the other side of the store...is the second face of card collecting, playable cards, bright, shiny, flashy cards featuring people, creatures, places, and things that don't really exist, used for playing games. And their popularity is soaring. And together in this shop, sports cards and fantasy cards, make a good team for sales.
Starkjohann says, "With the singles on the gaming side, they're a lot cheaper, but we sell a lot more of them. Whereas on the sports side, the collecting side, the singles are a lot fewer, but they're much higher in value."
The industry leader is called Magic The Gathering, Starkjohann says this is the game's 25th anniversary, but says its popularity has snowballed in the past 5 years.
"How players play is they'll have creatures lands and spells that they'll cast against each other," Starkjohann says
He describes it as a sort of dungeon and dragons set up with the two players having a fantasy battle with their cards, essentially trying to kill the other one off. They're not only fun for playing, they're also collectible, with some carrying a pretty substantial price tag.
He says, "With new story lines being generated almost 4 times a year, so the card game has evolved multiple times to get to this point.
While Magic the Gathering is the dominant gaming card...he says Pokémon has also jumped in popularity in recent years.
"We have a large community of people ranging in age from like 8 year olds with the Pokémon kids, and Yu Gi Oh going up into their 30's and 40's with the Magic Card players and collectors ,"
Starkjohann says he started playing Pokémon card games when he was in about 6th grade, and has been playing Magic for about 15 years.
He says, "This is a dream come true. It really is. I've always wanted to be in this industry cause I, you can't really complain when you get to wake up in the morning and be like, 'Oh yeah, I'm gonna go play games for the rest of the day"
Starkjohann says they have events at their store multiple times each week.
And, he says they have the largest collection of sealed Magic product in the state of South Dakota.
I grew up collecting baseball cards. I still have 'em, but those playable card games look like a lot of fun too.
If you've met someone cool "Along the Way" please call us or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.