BY Jim Caple 06:00AM 04/07/2020

No live games? DJ’s SportsCards is portal to past

Bored without live sports? Want to re-capture some childhood imagery? DJ’s SportsCards in Renton is having a little boom in business, created by the shutdown.

Don Joss has plenty of inventory in his store to fill some voids for sports fans. / Jim Caple, Sportspres Northwest

Due to COVID-19, there’s no Mariners games. Or Sounders games. Or NBA games. Or the NHL or Final Four. If you’re sad that you can’t see any big-time sports this month (and maybe not for awhile) you can still enjoy sports  — a step removed — at DJ’s SportsCards, 1630 Duvall Ave. NE in Renton.

Founded and owned by Don Joss, DJ’s is open, though you can’t go inside because of state restrictions on non-essential businesses. Customers can make purchases online at DJsSportsCards.com or mail order. Phone: (425) 235.4357.

“With the current news, and games being cancelled and nothing to watch, it’s almost like it hasn’t had any effect on the card market,’’ Joss said. “I’m not sure it’s because people need something to do, or whether this is how they can live out sports.

“But it’s almost like nothing has affected the sports-card market. A lot of card prices have gone up. It’s almost been immune, and maybe helped, by the fact there is nothing to watch.’’

Joss has inventory to meet demand.

“In the current situation, customers call, or I’m constantly posting things on my website, my social media – ‘here’s what’s new,’’’ Joss said. “I moved a lot of stuff in the window so people can walk up and order from there, point to things or call me.’’

When he was young, Joss collected comics, then began getting into sports cards in the 1980s.

“I enjoyed following the Mariners every year,’’ Joss said. “In 1985, I really got into them. The previous year they had Alvin Davis and Mark Langston — two of my all-time favorites to this day — and I just thought I would go full-bore on the cards.”

He started selling cards in 1988, working with the owner of another shop, then opened up his current store in 1990 when he was 19. Among his customers was two-time MLB Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, when he was a Liberty High School star. Other players have signed autographs in the store as well.

The inventory is amazing — baseball, football, basketball and hockey cards, including some that are autographed and some that are decades old. There’s bobbleheads, bats, autographed baseballs, basketballs and footballs, jerseys (one signed by Ken Griffey Jr.) and magazines.

There are even Pokemon cards and Lego sets, and he’s also sold Barbie dolls. The walls are decorated with posters of Griffey, Davis, Jim Zorn, Joe Montana and others.

“The posters are such a kick,’’ Joss said. “That’s another real collectible thing now. Most posters get destroyed and are hard to store. When people see a poster they had in their room 30 years ago, they’re like, ‘I gotta have that.’ ’’

Outside the store, there’s a wood statue of Griffey, done by the grandfather of his wife, Amy.

“When we were a young couple, Amy couldn’t get pregnant,’’ he told me in January. “So we looked into adopting. And we found a program where it was foster care, but it was designed to get you a child that would probably become adoptable. The idea was, you would be a foster parent, but you would keep them if they become available, instead of them bouncing from foster home to foster home.”

“Even after having bio kids, we still felt the desire to give a home to kids who did not have one,’’ Amy said. “So we just continued onward, wherever God led us.’’

The oldest of the adopted, Rebecca, is 22. Son Daniel was born 18 months later. They adopted Glory from Texas in 2017. “We adopted twin boys, Juan and Rudy, from Guatemala who were only two months younger than James (one of their sons) in 2004 — so we had virtual triplets, all a year old,” Amy said.

Several of the kids are into sports and also help in the store.

“They play pickup basketball, baseball, football in the yard almost daily,’’ Amy said. “Five of the boys work at the shop regularly. James in particular has a real gift for working with cards.’’

Somehow Joss finds a way to keep working the business during these times, with hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“There is always stuff coming in,’’ Joss said. “I’m still planning to expand my store. I need more room for merchandise.

When he started the business, the sports-card market was huge, then crashed in later years. They are booming again.

“Like it was 30 years ago,’’ he said. “Anybody that was young during that boom 30 years ago, they’re older now. They’re getting back into it, they have more money. The cards are prettier, they have autographs on them.

“Then you’ve got the new generation coming in, and cards have just been skyrocketing the last couple years.’’

Since you can’t experience sports live these days, Joss offers a wonderful portal to the past.

 


YourThoughts

  • Guy K. Browne

    It’s great to see bits of good news, and to know that some small businesses are still doing well. Way to go DJs!

    • Jim Caple

      Yes, he does great work!

  • Husky73

    I wonder if he has a card of one of my favorite Mariners– Brian Turang? Or his son, Brice?

  • Chris Johnson

    Not only is it a portal to the past, but it’s a portal to the future! DJ’s Sports Cards has gotten me back into collecting! The fun part of opening new packs of baseball for example, is finding the next major superstar! He sells awesome products, and now my youngest has the collecting bug! I see this hobby as an investment! The stock I own is almost worthless because of this virus! But!! My card collection is stable, and the market continues to be stable. Hope this virus goes away soon. It’s driving me nuts not to be able to walk DJ’s and shop!

    • art thiel

      I guess this site is now Yelp. You are one satisfied customer.

  • jafabian

    I like to hang out at places like DJs. It’s like walking through a portal to Seattle’s sports history. Sadly they know the value of Pilots or Metropolitans jersey or trading card and price accordingly. And here I thought I was the only one around here who knew! Many times if these places don’t have what you’re looking for they’ll find it online. Little known fact is that sometimes antique or thrift shops will also have some cool stuff. I can’t believe how much Sonics championship or 80s Seahawks items I find there.

    • art thiel

      I have a Sonics longsleeve that says, “Winnebago Wall: Sikma, Donaldson, Shelton.”

      How much spare cash you gots?

      • jafabian

        Well that tops my Leonard Gray caricature t-shirt. I bow before you sir.

  • Will Ganschow

    Out of many, many great columns, amongst your best. Keep up the great work Art.

    • art thiel

      Will, full credit goes to my friend and colleague, Jim Caple, author of the story.

  • Kirkland

    Impressed as hell that he started at the late-’80s sports card boom and stayed afloat when it spectacularly collapsed a few years later. I bought an attic full of card sets then that probably haven’t appreciated much in value, but are still fun to leaf through for reminiscing.

    • art thiel

      Where was a mother/spouse/sibling/friend who felt duty-bound to throw them out?

      • Kirkland

        My grandmother threw out my dad’s comic books and baseball cards from the ’50s and ’60s, and then regretted it when she realized how much they were worth. Dad didn’t touch mine out of sympathy.

  • brandon Lee

    I found Dj’s sportcards about 2 years ago. As a young buck I collected for many year, as time passed and the market took a bit in the 90’s so did my passion for collecting. Now in my mid 30’s the fire is blazing again. DJ has been a huge part of restoring the drive within me. There is something about a down to earth, honest, generous and kind sole like DJ that is hard not to be attracted to. When I need anything I alway drive out of my way to hit DJ’s store. Even when I dont need anything it’s nice to know that I can come hang out and flip though cards and talk about the hobby for a few hours. It definitely takes me back 20-25 years. Thank you DJ for your support!!!!!! And thank you for whom wrote this article. Awesome reading.