By Ron VandenBoom
Theres always a chance the one pack of trading cards you open will contain a treasure a rare and valuable collectible that is worth hundreds of dollars and continue to increase in value as time goes by.
A customer of mine in Pendleton came in and bought two packs and out of one of those packs he pulled a Michael Jordan. There were only 61 of them made it was number 11 of 61 and it was worth $500, said Bert Jager, the owner of one of Havres newest businesses, BJs Collectibles.
Jager goes on to explain how he offered the customer $500 in trade for the card and the customer agreed.
The next month the card went from $500 to $800 in the price guide, Jager said. ... but hey, it could have gone the other way, too.
Its the name of the game in the collectible business demand and scarcity determine the value of the collectible. It is also what can make collectibles a thriving business.
For Jager the collectible business started in Pendleton, Ore., about five years ago after an illness forced him to leave his position with the Fuller Brush Company and find a new source of income.
People came from all around, Jager said of his store in Pendleton. We had a really successful shop.
It was a new job procured by his wife, Jackie, at the Havre Christian School that prompted Jager to move his business to the Hi-Line.
BJs Collectibles is now located at 630 First St. in the old City Foods building just west of the Corner Bar.
Jager concentrates most of his efforts on sports trading cards where he sells packs and sets that range from football to racing. He also sells Star Wars cards and the ever popular Pokemon cards.
That thing is so dog gone popular it is unbelievable, Jager said. Kids are absolutely nuts over that stuff.
The Pokemon cards derive from a TV Show and have more than just a collectible value they can also be used as game pieces.
The entire sports card craze began, Jager said, in the 1800s when they were included with certain types of tobacco products.
Now if you had one of those, he said, indicating the extreme value that could be placed on one of the original cards.
But its not just the age, but the condition of a card that determines its value. Cards of suspected value are sent to rating companies where they are classified according to age and condition.
We also are a PSA submitting dealer, Jager said. They will grade the cards and slab them.
Ratings range from 1 for very poor condition to 10 for perfect condition. The slab refers to a plastic case that seals the card and protects it from further damage. Other companies grade on a scale of 0-100 with the 100 rating almost impossible to get, gem mint perfect.
Even if a card is valuable today, Jager explained, there is no guarantee it will still be valuable tomorrow. A real popular player who gets involved in a drug scandal, for example, may lower the value of a card tremendously.
Jager added that you never know how many of a card might be out there. You might think you have the only card, he said, but, if theres somebody out there that has been hoarding 30 of them, and they decide to put them on the market, your card can go phsssit.
BJs Collectibles also carries an assortment of autographed memorabilia and a collection of Beanie Babies. Jagers favorite collectible, however, is his assortment of antiquarian books.
BJs Collectibles offers kids a chance to earn a $5 gift certificate when they bring in their grade cards. They receive one punch for every A or B in a core subject. When they get 15 punches on their card they get the gift certificate.
Also on Thursday nights is what Jager calls pack wars a chance for children to compete for prizes by having the card with the tallest or maybe the shortest player.
Memberships are also available for $15 a year that can entitle the customer to discounts from 15-50 percent on some items.
Hours of operation at BJs are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday. Friday hours are 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the shop being closed on weekends.
For more information on BJs Collectibles, call 262-2925.