Al’s: A Place for Collectors and Community

It was 1987. Ronald Reagan was President, Whitney Houston was topping the charts, and baseball cards were hot, at fifty cents a pack. That’s when Al’s Sports Cards opened as a hole-inthe- wall store in Edmond.

Thirty-five years later, Al’s Sports Cards & Gaming is one of the few remaining card shops around—and a top-performing store in the industry. Why? According to Al Marchese, it’s because he adjusted to his audience’s interests.

Fan Line Up

“It started with baseball cards, but in 1990, I moved to my current location and added non-sport collectibles, like Beanie Babies and Marvel products,” Al said.

It was that product diversity that set the stage for 1997, when Pokémon first burst onto the scene!

“Kids would be lined outside the store, squatting down with their Pokémon books. They’d see me arrive and scream, ‘There’s Al!’ and they’d start scrambling around,” Al chuckled. “I felt like a rockstar. We called it the Pokémon Phenom.”

Store Experience

The store is filled with a colorful explosion of cards. White plastic tables are set up so customers can browse through merchandise, chat with other card enthusiasts, or participate in gaming events, such as Yu-Gi-Oh! or Magic.

“Many of our customers are regulars. We get a lot of moms bringing in kids who are just getting started in gaming, especially Pokémon,” Al said. “And I’m seeing our third generation of sports card collectors, some who started when the shop opened in the eighties, and who now have children and grandchildren getting interested.”

When Al was young, he owned a typical shoebox collection of Yankees baseball cards, which disappeared when he went off to college. It’s a story of lament Al hears almost daily from other collectors, but he loves helping customers find new favorite cards.

Al Retires

In February 2023, Al decided to officially retire. “I’ve been blessed to do this for 35 years, so I wanted to sell the shop to someone I feel good about. I picked Rob McAuley,” Al said. “He’s a personal friend, he’s got that ‘fire in his belly,’ and he knows the customers by name.”

Although Al is retired, he’s frequently at the store, chatting with customers and helping Rob transition. Al’s store was Rob’s “personal sanctuary” when his wife, Staci, went through cancer treatments in the 2000s. The disease took Staci’s life, leaving Rob to raise two daughters alone. On Rob’s days off, he started helping at the shop so that Al could keep it open seven days a week. Rob learned the business, and earned Al’s trust.

Rob Continues Al’s Legacy

Like Al, Rob was a longtime collector of baseball cards who also had a proverbial “missing” shoebox of Mickey Mantle cards. Rob also collects coins, stamps, autographed checks, and has one of the most extensive Pete Rose collections out there. Owning the card shop is a dream come true.

“Nothing beats going to a shop you love every day,” said Rob. “I hope I can do as good a job as Al’s done. He’s an institution! He’s been my mentor and friend, so I’m keeping the Al’s Sports Cards sign up.”

“There’s no atmosphere like coming into a card shop, feeling the product, and talking with people,” Al said. “It’s all about personal relationships and cultivating the young collectors of tomorrow.”


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