When Jeremy Mykytyshyn opened Evolution Games & Trading Cards in Kemptville, he was looking for a way to keep busy during the winter months. But in just two weeks of operation, Mykytyshyn has seen success that has him second-guessing what his career might look like.
Born in Western Canada but raised in Kemptville, Mykytyshyn is a rural Ontarian at heart and has been operating a contracting business working on everything from renovations to decks, out of the area for about 10 years. But in the colder months when contract work dries up, Mykytyshyn decided to follow his other passions and open a store dedicated to the hobbies that occupy his winters – trading cards, board games, comic books and collectibles for every hobbyist.
“I do a lot of hobbies in the winter and I’ve graded and collected sports cards my whole life,” Mykytyshyn, 36, told OBJ. “A game store is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
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Once he had the savings in his pocket, Mykytyshyn, with the support of his wife, started looking for a storefront in Kemptville. He picked a recently vacated spot at 1-10 Prescott St. It’s a prime location, said Mykytyshyn, with lots of foot traffic from the nearby public library and schools, and was more affordable than units in the newer parts of Kemptville.
Finding the space was the easy part. There are “lots of hoops to jump through” to supply the hobby shop, since distributors of products like trading cards have strict guidelines, he said.
“Setting up wasn’t easy. To get this product, you can’t be within an hour or 50 km between any other store like this so you don’t compete and you have to put together a store before making a deal,” he explained. “So you have to save about $20,000 before you even get the product.”
“But once you get the product you’re set,” he laughed. “It’s so allocated so you’re not competing, the competition is in Brockville or in Ottawa.”
Mykytyshyn isn’t too worried about competing.
“Kemptville hadn’t had a hobby store for a while,” he said. But even he couldn’t have guessed at how big the market was in the rural town for unique collectibles and graded trading cards.
“It was a big risk, 100 per cent,” he admitted. “It’s incredible, we’ve put more than $100,000 into the store, maybe double that. I’d hate to add it all up.”
Since opening on March 27, Mykytyshyn has been nearly run off his feet. He reported about $2,000 in sales on opening day and about $1,000 nearly every day since.
His lowest revenue day, he said, was $500. The revenue sometimes comes from single purchases – Mykytyshyn sells everything from 50-cent figures to $10,000 trading cards. The valuable cards have been graded, which means they’ve been authenticated and preserved, skyrocketing the value.
He said customers have been flocking to MTG, a collectible card game, Pokemon cards, and Warhammer, a “build-and-play” battle game that Mykytyshyn called the “most expensive hobby in the world.”
His shop also sells board games, action figures, collectible figurines and comic books for the casual hobbyist or collector. Mykytyshyn has seen customers of all ages interested in his wares.
“Seriously, from a little kid right up to older adults,” he laughed.
If the success of the store continues, Mykytyshyn already has a game plan – one that involves him never leaving the shop. He’s hiring extra staff for his construction company, so he plans to spend his days among the comic books and card stacks. And he’s already planning upcoming Dungeons and Dragons events and MTG game nights to bring out any shy enthusiasts.
“There’s no better feeling. You never know if anyone’s going to show up, but everybody showed up,” he said. “I guess Kemptville really needed it.”