Name: Eric Burks
Occupation: Owner of Burks4263 Sportscards at 345 W Prairie Ave., Suite 2, in Decatur. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
When did you get into card collecting?
I got into card collecting when I was 12 years old. Me and my dad would go to the local card shop in Chicago. Back then I didn’t really know what all I was doing, but it was still fun to do. I was really heavy into it and then when I went to college kind of took a break, but then after college I started getting into the workforce, teaching. I always used it as a catalyst with other kids as far as trying to get them into it. Whether I was at a group home or I was teaching at a school, I always tried to show kids and tried to get them into it and then it just kind of took over and now I’m here today with my card shop.
When did you come to Decatur?
Came to Decatur in 2010. We lived in Bloomington for awhile after we got out of college, and I was working at Stephen Decatur but we were traveling back and forth. We eventually moved here and moved on the west end of town. I was teaching and then wanted to start my own business, and I’ve been in Decatur ever since.
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When did you open the shop, and was this always what you wanted to do?
July 2016. I wouldn’t even necessarily say it was a dream of mine. I just think I always used to go into card shops and then when the opportunity presented itself, it was like, ‘I’m just going to go out on a limb here, leap of faith, and open my own card shop.’ I’m just really grateful.
How were you previously “selling” cards to kids, in terms of getting them interested?
For example, I used to work at Webster-Cantrell Hall here in town. They used to have a group of boys there and I would just donate stuff to them sometimes. I would just bring this big tote in and just give it to them and they would just light up. A lot of them were into the gaming so I would do a lot of Pokemon at the time. I gave them stuff and they would just be like, ‘Eric, man, do you have any more cards?’ It was a sticking point for me because they’d been through so much, you want them to be able to have something that they could feel like was theirs, but at the same time it also builds that relationship with them, so that was fun.
How would you describe the baseball card market in Decatur?
I would say there are a lot of collectors who are untapped. I would love to see more collectors come out in Decatur. We’ve got a nice amount, but I feel like there’s several guys or gals right now who are in their room or at their house looking on eBay, clicking on cards or looking online and I don’t even have a clue who they are. They don’t have a clue who I am. They don’t even know this shop is here. Definitely would look forward to that more. I think the more local people you have, the better, because then more people get to meet people and more deals get done.