Alameda Business Focus: Alameda Sports Cards & Comics
By Heather Lyn Wood
You won’t find Patti Tsang bragging about Alameda Sports Cards & Comics. It’s not her style. But the Alameda native does recognize the unique role her business has played on the Island for more than 25 years.
Since 1985, Tsang has served as the Island’s de facto comic book and sports trading card expert. Her store was located on Park Street for 24 years before she moved into her current space on Webster Street, the walls of which are lined with graphic novels from all eras. When asked in an interview how she got into the business, Tsang’s answer was simple. “I grew up reading comic books. I love comic books. My customers love to read comic books. The business grew out of that,” she said.
A glass display case adjacent to the front desk contains dozens of collectible baseball cards ranging from the early 1950s to more recent days. Tsang’s knowledge of the cards and the players that decorate them is clear as she rattles off facts and statistics about the careers of individual athletes.
Tsang offers collection appraisals by appointment, and she sees each card collection as an opportunity to discover something about the collector. “You can learn about someone – about their history, their life – by looking at a collection. You can tell when they grew up, and something about who they are,” she said.
Tsang has obvious affection for her customers, many of whom are former Alameda residents now living in other parts of the country. “I send comics to people who now live in Ohio, Oklahoma, Seattle,” she said. “They still call me and e-mail me, and I make sure that they get what they want.”
When not managing her store and maintaining relationships with new and longtime customers, Tsang is an active supporter of local youth. She coordinates National Free Comic Book Day in conjunction with the Alameda Free Library and has sponsored numerous school and team-related events over the years.
Though it is difficult to find published information about the demographics of comic and trading card collectors, both hobbies are traditionally thought of as male pastimes, putting Tsang in the minority as the woman owner of a comic and sports card shop. Tsang agrees that collectors of both are still predominantly male, but points out that a sizable portion of her customer base is female.
“Not too many girls collect baseball cards, but some do. They’re out there,” she said. She believes that some young female customers may feel more comfortable pursuing their interests after seeing her at the store’s helm.
Hesitant to praise herself, Tsang will admit that she has created something special in the business.
“I have a second generation of customers coming in here. Kids who came in when they were 13 are now bringing their own kids. Grandmothers who brought their children now ask me to help pick out comics and cards for their grandchildren. What more is there to say?”
Alameda Sports Cards and Comics is located at 1515 Webster Street. It is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Their phone number is 769-0644.