The last nine months have been the busiest of Michael Osacky’s career as a sports card and memorabilia appraiser.
“Today what we’re seeing, especially since COVID started in March, this has been the craziest, busiest time in my career,” he said. “People are spending money on trading cards instead of on travel, going out, going to restaurants. They are buying back their childhood memories. It’s been wonderful to see this resurgence in baseball cards, and all cards in general.”
Osacky, 40, is an accredited member and certified Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice compliant appraiser of the International Society of Appraisers and has spent countless hours evaluating collections.
He will be in Hastings to appraise a collection of Topps baseball cards dating back to the early 1950s for insurance purposes.
Osacky scheduled other appraisals for his stop in Hastings, too, and has time to meet with other collectors, as well.
“There aren’t too many people like me in the country,” he said. “So a lot of times people need an appraisal for insurance purposes, or estate planning.”
Osacky, who is based in Chicago, has been appraising collections for more than 20 years and recently partnered with Professional Sports Authenticator, the world’s largest trading card, autograph and memorabilia authentication and grading service.
Growing up, his grandfather gave him a shoebox full of old baseball cards for his birthday.
“It got me on the hunt of not only trying to find more of them, but also to understand the value,” he said.
His parents would take him to card shows, often in hotels.
“It was so fascinating to walk into this hotel and there’s like 100 dealers, 100 tables,” he said. “Everyone’s selling their baseball cards. I’d just never seen so many people in a room before. I saw the transaction. People were taking money out of their pocket to buy baseball cards or football cards. From then on, I guess I got hooked.”
Osacky established the website www.baseballintheattic.com.
He’s written for Parade Magazine, and is a contributor to Forbes Magazine.
He said the sports card market was booming until the mid-1990s, but a few different factors drove down values, including the Major League Baseball strike of 1994.
There was also a mass production of cards.
“So there were billons and billons of cards across 20 different manufacturers,” Osacky said. “It’s crazy.”
Ebay increased the convenience of collecting.
“When eBay came along you could essentially wake up in the morning with your shirt off, log onto the computer and buy whatever cards you want and then they would be shipped to you,” he said.
He said the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic has led to a sense of nostalgia and a talking point among generations.
In the case of collections such as the one Osacky will be evaluating in Hastings, which dates back more than 60 years, the value may have doubled in value in the last year.
“With COVID, unfortunately a lot of bad things are happening; people are dying, they are getting sick,” he said. “With my business, it’s only good things that are happening. Prices are going up, people are finding things in their attic they didn’t know they had. So it’s been a really nice resurgence.
“It’s been a nice respite from all the bad things.”
Osacky can be reached to schedule an appraisal by calling 312-379-9090, emailing email@example.com or visiting www.baseballintheattic.com.
As a small, local business, Jacobi Carpet One of Hastings prides itself on providing thorough service by helping a customer with a flooring project from start to finish.
“We are a full-service flooring store,” said owner Tim Jacobi. “That means we are with our customers from the time they start thinking about a project until their selection is on their floor and they are enjoying it.”
Jacobi’s father, Ed, started Jacobi’s Carpet One Floor and Home in 1972.
After having worked for Ray Building Products, Ed wanted to try his own hand at business and purchased the current downtown location at 236 N. Denver Ave.
Tim worked in the store during high school, but it wasn’t until he took business classes at Central Community College that he started working full time.
Ed ran the store successfully until his retirement in 1995, which is when Tim took over as president.
In 1986, the company joined the Carpet One Cooperative. Jacobi’s was store No. 54 in a group that now has more than 1,000 stores in the United States and Canada.
As a cooperative, the company is able to be locally-owned and managed while having the benefit of a buying group for exclusive products, pricing and warranties.
He said the business also has a whole division devoted to commercial customers called JCO Commercial Floors.
“In the early years of the business, sales were mostly to homeowners, but over time the commercial segment of the business has grown,” Jacobi said.
In addition to carpet, the business offers hard surface flooring options, including luxury vinyl tile, hardwood, ceramic tile and more.
“People don’t realize the depth of our selection,” Jacobi said.
Because there are so many options, he said it can become “too much and the consumer can get confused and give up.”
Realizing that so many options can be confusing, Jacobi said his staff is trained to help customers identify their wants and needs and then guide them through the process of selection and purchase.
“Then, they should only have two to three options so that they aren’t overwhelmed and confused,” he said.
To help make sure the customer is pleased with their decision and satisfied with the outcome, Jacobi’s takes its personal service a step further.
“We also line up the installation so you don’t have to randomly pick someone from a wall of business cards,” Jacobi said. “If there is a problem, we’ll take care of it. You don’t have to track down the guy who put your floor in if you need a repair.”
Jacobi said that is the type of personal service that a local business can offer and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“As a locally owned small business, we can offer customers the ease of us bringing samples to their home or we can offer private shopping time in the showroom,” he said. “You wouldn’t be able to get that kind of service from the big box stores.”
A collaborative effort of several Hastings churches to support those who have been affected by the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic is picking up again after a lull over the summer and early fall.
The Rev. Andy Springer, chaplain for the Good Samaritan Society-Hastings Village, is working with the churches to run errands, including grocery shopping, for anyone who is self-quarantined, sick or is particularly susceptible to COVID-19, which most severely sickens elderly and immune-compromised individuals.
Participating churches to date locally include First Presbyterian, Grace United Methodist, St. Mark’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, Faith Lutheran, First Christian and First Congregational United Church of Christ.
The effort first started in March and also included providing meals.
“We didn’t have a huge number of people asking, but things are a lot worse now than they were then, so we’re hoping to help folks if they will let us,” Springer said.
There are already plenty of volunteers.
“We just want people to know if they need something they can call,” he said.
Springer said it was important to start this effort again because of how widespread COVID-19 is.
“So many people are being impacted and dying that don’t need to,” he said.
For more information call Springer at 402-460-3246 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.