One family-owned Terrace business will be trading more hockey cards than heart-shaped notes on Valentine’s Day today.
That’s because Sonny’s Collectables is celebrating 25 years of business in sports memorabilia, collectibles, trading cards and other novelty items.
Owner Sona “Sonny” Kunar has everything from sports memorabilia and a signed Gretzky hockey jersey, to vintage Magic the Gathering cards, and a locally-crafted, mounted dragon head.
“It’s a big kids store, you come in and there are things to look at everywhere,” Kunar says.
Kunar first opened the family business in 1994 at the Skeena Mall, where it stayed for 16 years. The store has changed locations six times in its history, including a move to the property next to Subway before they secured their 3,000 sq. ft. location on Lakelse Ave. three years ago.
“Instead of renovating, we just move, and every time we focus on getting bigger and better,” he says.
He says the store has the largest collection of collectible hockey cards in the Northwest, next to Kamloops, with more than 1.5 million cards in stock, dating anywhere from 1910 to the present. Approximately 75 per cent of the store’s collection is comprised of hockey memorabilia.
They also host nationally recognized ‘Magic the Gathering’ tournaments, and weekly Pokemon and Yugioh trading card games.
Some of the notable items in Kunar’s collection include an Indianapolis Racers jersey signed by Wayne Gretzky when he was first signed to the World Hockey Association in 1978. There are also vintage hockey cards from 1910, and one of hockey legend Gordie Howe. That card alone is worth $3,000.
But in a world where collectible cards can be bought online through eBay and Amazon, why do people still walk into specialty collectible stores?
Kunar says many in larger cities have gone out of business specifically for this reason, but collectors in the North still want to physically see the items themselves so they know the quality of what they’re buying, rather than mistakenly falling for a fake look-a-like.
“The cities have really gotten caught up in that, and you’re killing your own specialty stores. We all like to support locally if we can, and we’re very lucky that Terrace is a huge supporting community.”
Trends lately have also geared towards the nostalgia of the 1980s, making retro collectibles a hot commodity. Throughout the years, Kunar has seen his customers transition from their first deck of cards, to hockey jerseys and eventually to framed displays to hang in their new homes.
In the future, Kunar says he hopes to diversify his collection to include a wider variety of sports to cater to a larger customer base. No plans to modernize — keeping it old school hasn’t steered them wrong yet, Kunar says.
“That moment when you see something you once had as a kid, those childhood memories, we want to give that to our customers,” he says.
Plans to celebrate will wait until when the weather warms up, but Kunar hopes to organize a customer appreciation event with other local businesses in the shopping centre to recognize the 25-year milestone.