Trey Gratwick started collecting baseball cards as a preteen but put the hobby away as he headed off to college. It wasn’t until his son, Tyler, turned 5 and was “all about baseball” that Trey took up sports cards again. It was a way to teach his son about the history of the game and new players and sports card collecting has been part of their lives ever since.
Now Tyler is grown, and he and his dad are partners in a new shop, The Art of Sports in the Leawood Town Center Plaza. It sells sports cards, hobby boxes, framed jerseys and other memorabilia.“The card market is as hot as it has ever been,” Tyler said. “There’s nostalgia. People lost their cards or their parents threw away their childhood collection. They want that card back, and now they can buy it for $50, and they see other people making money on the cards.”As a child, Tyler said, he was mostly interested in collecting cards for his favorite Kansas City Chiefs and Royals players, but once he was allowed to log onto eBay as a teenager, he could track the fluctuation in prices and became interested in sports cards as an investment. He might find a player he thought would have a good career. If the player went on the disabled list for four weeks, he would buy one of the player’s sports cards on the third week, when they were not in the news. He set up a little shop in the family’s garage, selling cards to the neighborhood. As an adult, Tyler has been flipping houses for a living. But earlier this year, he was talking to his sister, who works at Town Center Plaza, about the least expensive spaces.
One was available, across from the center’s office.“This was a bucket list item, but the conversation never got past that,” Tyler said. He called his father who used to co-own The Pizza Peddlers downtown and in Mission, along with other restaurants, and later worked at the Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa, most recently as director of food and beverage.
The shop also carries Tina Blanck’s mosaic paintings and Kansas City-themed merchandise, including key rings, coasters and ornaments. Blanck is married to Trey’s best friend and former partner in the Pizza Peddlers.”It is a business,” said Tyler, “but at the end of the day it is supposed to be fun.”