As a nine-year-old, the only pieces of quality sports memorabilia that seemed to surface in my hometown of Marinette, Wis., was at the weekend card shows my friends and I would regularly attend at our local shopping mall and banquet halls. The shows were promoted by MEARS founder and lead authenticator, Troy Kinunen, who at the time was attending college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. As amazing as it sounds, even as a child, I knew I’d always be heavily involved in the sports card and memorabilia industry.
Even before memorabilia consisted of mainstream popularity, Troy always stressed to me the significance of structuring a collection that exemplifies solid provenance and the importance of going the extra mile to purchase pieces of the utmost quality. I’ll never forget when I saved up $200 by combining my allowances, Christmas and birthday money, as an 11-year-old, with the hopes of purchasing a Michael Jordan autographed University of North Carolina jersey.
I told Troy about my strategy of obtaining my dream piece, and he informed me that he could help get the jersey, but with the stipulation that I’d have to wait two months before his source could get the proper letters and numerals. As much as I wanted the jersey in hand right away, Troy pointed out the importance of having a shirt with the proper font style and numerals on it in order to help solidify its investment potential. Although it upset me that I had to wait, for what seemed to be an eternity, I chose to listen to Troy and purchase the shirt with the correct specifications.
In 1999, as a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and struggling to make ends meet, I needed to raise $2,000 to help pay for a semester of school. Even though I wanted to avoid selling the piece, which was the cornerstone of my collection at the time, I made the choice to part with the Jordan jersey and ended up selling the shirt for $2,300. The man who purchased the jersey noted that the only reason he paid top dollar for it was because it had all the proper specs that an authentic MJ college jersey should have.
Now, 21 years later after my initial dealings with Troy, his visions, efforts and remarkable foresights haven’t changed. I continue to be impressed with the policies MEARS has put in place for its equipment authentication company, the memorabilia that the “Bushing and Kinunen MEARS For Sale” section offers collectors, and am also excited about the new product lines that will be announced soon.
When taking into consideration those features, and the fact that the MEARS staff is made up of the hobby’s most respected experts, I felt comfortable in making the decision to resign from my position as columnist at Sports Collectors Digest, and is why I made the choice to start my career with the MEARS organization.
Over the next couple months, MEARS will be conducting some of the most innovative processes in the hobby, and our business operations will be performed at the new MEARS Research Center located in South Milwaukee. When I saw the time and effort that was put into this state-of-the art 15,000-square-foot facility, even though I’ve gained priceless knowledge and experiences at SCD, it was a no-brainer to make the transition to MEARS.
I truly appreciate all the loyal readers of my columns and blog entries, and look forward to serving you while I help manage the new product lines we have in store for you at MEARS.