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Tuesday, March 26 News

‘Unlikely to find a better place to go for sports memorabilia’

One never knows what kind of treasures are waiting to be discovered in New Milford.

For sports enthusiasts, sports treasures can be found at A&B Sports Cards, Memorabilia and Collectibles at 160 Danbury Road (Route 7).

The shop, which was opened by Bryan Shanks in early December, is situated in the small house in front of Ski Haus - across from Dunkin Donuts on Dodd Road.

“Between Bryan’s passion for sports and card collecting, his knowledge of the hobby and the store's impressive inventory, I think you are unlikely to find a better place to go for sports memorabilia,” said resident Matt Higgins.

Higgins said Shanks has already taught his son “about completing sets, seeking rookie cards, inserts, error cards and how cards are graded.”

Higgins said his son “now collects with more of a purpose.”

“I was always a sports guy,” said Shanks, who grew up in the region. After working in the HVAC industry for many years, he decided to tap into his passion for sports and open the business.

As a child, Shanks traded baseball cards and, throughout his life, played sports.

“I want to reintroduce the next generation to what I had (trading cards),” Shanks said of one of the reasons he opened the store.

Chris O’Loughlin described the store as a place “for kids to go in and look at history, especially that of baseball.”

“It’s a great addition to the town,” O’Loughlin said. “We don’t have anything like this.”

The shop has a “little something for everyone” and works within budgets of $1 and up, Shanks said.

The walls of the store’s main room are covered in a variety of framed pieces of memorabilia and features a sample of one the business’ special features — a custom wood bench with a team logo, made by Shanks’s father.

A second room boasts an assortment of pillows adorned with team logos, a rack of jerseys, a display case of signed baseballs and shelves of trading cards for baseball, basketball, football and NASCAR, as well as the NHL.

The trading cards are hobby cards, meaning each box of cards on a shelf is guaranteed to have at least two autographed cards.

They differ from retail cards, which are carried in bigger stores and don’t contain any autographed cards or cards of high value.

A third room is dedicated to individual trading cards, dating from vintage 1911 to the present, and the store’s specialty, Derek Jeter memorabilia.

Prices for cards range from $1 up.

Shanks carries many local and star professional teams, such as the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Giants and the Jets, but can accommodate customer requests for other teams for the various items in the store.

Both autographed and certified autographed items are available at A&B.

The owner said he is “constantly looking to purchase” new merchandise for the business, and he provides appraisals and offers consignment.

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In the first few weeks of business, he has already seen some regular customers, some of whom have asked him to keep an eye out for particular cards or products, which he said he will gladly do.

Reflecting on how much enjoyment he had from trading baseball cards as a child, Shanks recently decided to launch a trading card club for youth ages 9 to 13. The group meets twice a month.

Although the focus is baseball now, Shanks said he hopes the group will grow to encompass other sports in the future.

Higgins said he and his son visited the store because of their shared love of baseball. “He collects the cards, but the hobby is something we can truly enjoy together as we look through the cards and discuss the different players from this era and the past,” Higgins said

“Talking sports — that’s the fun part about it,” said Shanks of being a business owner.

He said he also enjoys watching the faces of youth — and older adults — light up when they spot a card they’ve been looking for or find a piece of memorabilia of interest.

“It’s not work for me,” Shanks said of his new role as business owner. “When I come here , it relaxes my brain. It’s not work.”

Shanks, who graduated from Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, is the travel coach for New Milford Youth Baseball Softball 11-year-olds, New Milford Hitmen.

For more information about A&B Sports Cards, Memorabilia & Collectibles, call the 160 Danbury Road (Route 7) business in New Milford at 203-627-4024 or email bryan.shanks @yahoo.com.

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