This article was originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle on August 11, 2019.
by Caurie Putnam
Jennifer Oberlies isn’t bothered by some of the strange looks she gets when new customers pop into her store, JC’s Cards and Collectibles in Brockport.
“A lot of people are shocked when they realize I’m the owner,” Oberlies, 43, said. “I’ve been asked, ‘Is your dad here?’ or ‘Is the owner here?’ I don’t know any other female owners of sports cards shops and I don’t know a female that collects either.”
Oberlies, who lives in Spencerport and graduated from Spencerport High School, is no stranger to sports cards. She began collecting baseball cards at age 7 after her parents took her to a Rochester Red Wings game and she fell on love with the sport.
When she was 12 she was the only girl to attend a local baseball camp run by Bobby Bonner, who played for the Baltimore Orioles and Rochester Red Wings — her two favorite baseball teams. She won camp MVP.
Oberlies estimates she has about 100,000 cards (mostly baseball) in her personal collection, over 3,000 of which are her favorite retired player, Baltimore Oriole legend Cal Ripken Jr.
Interestingly enough, one of the most sought-after cards at JC’s Cards and Collectibles is her current favorite player: the Orioles’ Trey Mancini, who is the brother of a Brockport resident.
“People come in looking for Trey Mancini all the time because of the local connection and because he’s very popular,” Oberlies said. “Other popular cards at the moment are Mike Trout, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield.”
Her store buys, sells and trades individual rated and non-rated sports cards and blaster boxes of all types, including baseball, hockey, football and basketball. There is also some fan memorabilia and merchandise, like hats.
Michael Macartney of Brockport was one of about six customers who stopped into JC’s Cards and Collectibles when I was there for an hour on a recent Sunday. He was looking to add to his own, extensive baseball card collection.
“I was in the first day she opened,” said Macartney, who was wearing an Orioles shirt. “I love that the store’s in Brockport, that it’s small, has great pricing and that she’s very personable and knows what she’s talking about.”
Prior to JC’s Cards and Collectibles opening this summer, Macartney did most of his card shopping online from two trusted sellers, but he’s happy to have a sports card focused store on the west side again.
“In the late ’80s, early ’90s, there were probably 20 card stores within a 45-minute drive of Brockport. Now there’s not really any aside from here,” he said. “If you’re spending more than a couple of bucks on cards, you want to feel them and see them.
That’s why it’s so great to have a place to buy in person.”
Oberlies did have a sports card store on Culver Road for a year in 2003, but the market wasn’t right at the times, she said. What motivated her to try again was to get more youths involved in the hobby. The store is partially named after her 4-year-old nephew, Charlie, whom she has introduced to collecting.
“I wanted a shop for the kids so they have a place to go, where it’s OK to touch the cards and where they can open their packs and enjoy themselves,” Oberlies said. “This is for the kids.”
Contact Caurie at caurie@urgrad .rochester.edu with news from west-side towns. She’s on Twitter at @Caurie Putnam and on Facebook at facebook .com/BrockportBlog.