Baseball memorabilia shop to close

Posted

Friday December 31, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- Patrick Bassi remembers when Pittsfield had at least 10 stores that sold all manner of sports memorabilia -- from baseball cards to plaques, team wastebaskets to sports clocks, license plates to decals.

That era officially comes to an end today when Bassi closes Bassball Sports Cards on Elm Street, which he has operated out of four different city locations for exactly 20 years. Bassball Sports Cards is the only sole sports cards and memorabilia store in Pittsfield.

The baseball coach and athletic director at St. Joseph Central High School, Bassi said the cost of moving his business from Tyler Street to Elm Street 2 1/2 years ago -- a move that he was forced to make -- combined with the downturn in the economy, including competition from online vendors, made it difficult for the business to make a profit.

Bassi said sales had fallen off by about 50 percent since the move to Elm Street.

"It was like a two-fisted punch to my head," said the 62-year-old Bassi. "I was never really able to recover.

"After trying to struggle through the last 2 1/2 years and talking to my wife and my children, we as a family decided it would be best just to close," Bassi said.

Bassi said he began to seriously consider closing the business last summer.

"It's a bittersweet decision," he said. "You have to understand that starting a business from scratch and watching it grow and blossom and then have it kind of die on the vine makes it kind of a bittersweet thing."

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There will be no layoffs. With the exception of one of his baseball players who "help out," Bassi said he is the store's only remaining employee.

"At one time, I probably had seven employees," he said.

An avid baseball card collector growing up, Bassi started Bassball Sports Cards as a part-time sports cards business on First Street in October 1990. He began operating the business full time after moving it to Tyler Street in 1996.

"I actually started the business with part of my own collection," he said. "I slowly grew it."

At one point, Bassball Sports Cards had between $375,000 and $450,000 in inventory, depending on the season, and included all kinds of major professional sports team merchandise. He said the store also had the largest inventory of major sports cards in New England.

The business' first three moves were due to growth and the need for more space. The last move was out of necessity.

According to Bassi, he had a lease on Tyler Street with an option to buy the building. But he said his landlord sold the building to someone else, and the new owner gave him a 30-day eviction notice. Bassi said many of his customers didn't follow him to Elm Street.

"I think anytime you move a business, you're always faced with the uncertainty of whether you're going to do better business," he said. "A lot of times, you'll find that when you move a business, people aren't aware of where you moved to. We did an abnormal amount of advertising, but there's still people who come in today who say we didn't even know you moved down here."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.


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