‘We have the ‘Cheers’ mentality’: O’s Hobby Shop turns childhood joy into Topeka business

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Matthew Whites was working in healthcare when he decided to quit his career and follow his childhood passion.

With his wife, Lara, Whites owns and operates Topeka’s newest sports memorabilia and hobby store, Oh Hobby Shop, 1927 SW Gage Blvd.

“We’ve been open a month, and it’s been busy and wonderful,” White said. “I’ve always been a collector. As a child, I mowed lawns and did chores to earn money to buy cards. There is joy in opening a new pack of cards. “

Named after the couple’s daughter Ophelia, O’s Hobby Shop sells sports cards as well as other trading cards such as Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! and sports memorabilia, including jerseys, autographed photos and more.

The owner of the hobby shop decided to do what he likes

“I used to work in the health care industry. For the sake of my mental health and my family, I decided to get out of health care and do what I love,” White said.

He said people might be surprised to learn that the average customer at O’s is female and between 34 and 44.

“They’re buying for their kids or their husbands,” Waites said. The most important thing is to watch children interact with their parents.

Waiters said he realized the need for a business like O’s in Topeka after watching collectors line up at garage sales at 1:30 a.m. and stay until 4:30 p.m. talking about cards with other card enthusiasts.

“It was the Covid boom,” Waits said of the renewed interest in card collecting. “Everyone had extra money and more people were spending on sports cards, which boosted the market.”

Matthew and Lara searched for a place to open a store for a year before a former co-worker told Matthew about a storefront in the Seabrook Shopping Center that had been vacant since the outbreak. Within two months, O’s Hobby Shop had a home in southwest Topoka.

O’s Hobby Shop does free reviews and sells on consignment

In addition to buying, selling and trading cards, OOS also offers scoring services, teaching customers how to research the value of their cards and how to care for and protect them. Waites also said he does free appraisals and sells items to customers on consignment.

He wants people to know that nothing he sells in his store is over $100. The goal is to keep prices affordable for all of society.

We don’t believe you should take out a second mortgage. Everything is reasonably priced,” White said. We want it to be affordable and fun for everyone.

O’s Hobby Shop runs daily specials, including a pool box where customers can spend 5 patches, autographs, card packs and more, as well as a spin wheel and roulette table with a percentage off store merchandise. Even if customers don’t win, no one walks away empty-handed. Waiters give out a free pack of cards to each person who tries their hand at roulette.

Customers can create their own packages for $5.

He admits that letting go of some collectibles is difficult. Waits was a fan of professional wrestling in the 1990s and said it was hard to see Hulk Hogan’s memorabilia in particular walk out the door.

Among his most valuable memorabilia are a 1924 baseball glove signed by Babe Ruth that was part of White’s personal collection and a Michael Jordan rookie card that he sold on consignment to a customer for $6,000. He also has a rare card collection honoring Native American athletes.

“This is Topeka’s community store,” White said. “We have a ‘Cheers’ mentality. We know your name, and we want everyone to be family. It’s about energy. We don’t care about the dollar. We care about the customer. This is a fun and safe environment for all collectors.

O Hobby Shop has an upcoming event collaboration.

O’s Hobby Shop recently partnered with the nearby Seabrook Apple Market to give back to the community. Customers who donate canned food are given a free pack of cards.

“We’re big on giving back to the community,” Waits said. “If you take care of the community, they will take care of you.”

More: Located at West Ridge Mall, this festive pop-up restaurant offers a taste of what’s to come

Several other events are also planned, including a collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka and La Crepey Co. food truck owner Carmen Romero-Nichols. Waites said he plans to work with local sponsors to name high school student athletes of the month after the start of the new year. Each month, one male and one female athlete from the area will receive a gift card and a customized sports card.

Additionally, O’s Hobby Shop hosts a monthly card shopping night. The business serves food and drinks and offers free card packages. The next planned card shopping night is an ugly sweater party with card-themed holiday decorations planned for December 15th.

The public can follow O’ on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on upcoming events.

More: These Topeka-area businesses bring holiday spirit without the hassle of hanging lights

Shana Sloyer is a Topeka-based freelance writer.



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