Chesapeake collectibles shop caters in cool memorabilia
The business’ name says it all, very succinctly: There’s a lot of cool stuff inside Cool Stuff Collectibles in Chesapeake.
The Cool Stuff shelves are filled with new and nostalgic collectibles ranging from Barbie dolls to baseball, football, basketball and even NASCAR trading cards. A virtual platoon of G.I. Joes stands in formation for your purchasing consideration. Vintage and newer comic books are available, as are games, model cars and toys galore. (If you’re in the market for a “Potsie” action figure from the 1970s “Happy Days” TV series, Sadler can hook you up.)
Lawrence Sadler of Crown Hill owns and operates Cool Stuff Collectibles. He opened the store in mid-November, intending to vend only through the Christmas season. A collector of baseball cards since childhood (“I remember when they went from five cents to 10 cents overnight; it was like a smack in the face,” Sadler recalled), he calls himself a “toy broker,” having accumulated his trove of treasures over decades.
“It kind of developed that people wanted me to stay here,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of collectors who come in. ... I’ve had toys I’ve put back for years, and I thought, if nothing else, I could make my own little ‘punch hole’ business.”
Sadler, who pastored at a Virginia church for 15 years, said he regarded his keepsakes originally as a retirement plan he didn’t have as a clergyman. He still likens his collecting, trading and selling to investing in the stock market. “When I’d find stuff cheap, I’d buy it,” he said.
He said he often sells the merchandise far below its listed market value, which has built a faithful customer base so far.
He also maintains a spiritual component to his business dealings. “The real reason I’m able to stay open is that, years ago, my dad taught us to tithe. He said that the Bible says you’re blessed when you honor God with your first fruit. So, what I decided to do when I opened up -- if you buy something from me and spend $68 here, on your receipt, I’ll put down the name of your church. At the end of the month, your church will get a check for $6.80. That’s how we do our tithe. We have some little churches here in the area that need it, and it’s really been a blessing to some of them. We haven’t helped them out a lot, but if all businesses would do that, it would help,” Sadler said.
“It’s been pleasantly surprising. I’ve kept my prices down, because I’ve bought stuff very cheap.”
His prize possession on site is a 1948 Foto-Electric Football board game. It retailed for $5.95 when it was introduced, he said. “It’s never been played,” he said. “The playbook has never been opened. It still has the original light bulb in it; it’s never been used.”
Sadler found the board game while he was browsing at a flea market in Charleston. “I don’t do flea markets a lot, and here’s the reason why: I want people to come in here and buy something, take it home, wrap it up and give it to someone as a gift and feel like they’ve gotten something new. Most of my stuff in here is like new. Some of it can’t be, because of sheer age.
“I like helping collectors find what they like,” he said. “When I started collecting, you’d go to a card show and it wasn’t dealers setting up things. You’d go in and trade with your friends and people you’d meet. It turned into such a crazy business that it made me want to get out of [collecting] baseball cards.”
Being a longtime toy broker conversant with the market, Sadler said, he has limited his eclectic inventory primarily to brand-name collectibles such as G.I. Joe and Barbie. “I have Dale Earnhardt things, super-heroes, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe items. Those are things, if you’d drop me in the middle of Kuwait, I could probably sell them, because there are certain names of things that sell. Like ‘Star Wars.’ You can’t go wrong buying ‘Star Wars’ stuff.”
Sadler said he is amenable to trading items from professional and amateur collectors. “Where I have so much old NASCAR stuff, I’m able to make some pretty good trades. They can bring it in. If they bring in any gems, any dynamite stuff, I’ll tell them, ‘This is the stuff you should keep and this is the stuff you should trade.’”
A colorful new sign is expected to be installed outside Cool Stuff Collectibles’ storefront this month. In the past and the meantime, customers have tended to stop by to admire the vintage red Ford Fairlane parked out front.
“I bought that car exactly for what it’s doing for me: It’s a signpost. My customers know that when the hood’s open, my store is open,” Sadler said.
Cool Stuff Collectibles is located at 13107-1/2 Maccorkle Ave. in Chesapeake. The store is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
For more information, call 304-590-8011 or visit Cool Stuff’s Collectibles Facebook page.