It all started with two young brothers in high school and their love for collecting baseball cards. Chris and Marc Gooboian turned their hobby into Bases Loaded, a full-time business that has lasted more than 23 years. They hope one day their children can take over the family store.
Question: What's the nature of your business?
My brother and I would collect baseball cards and action figures when we were younger, and we ended up turning it into a business. We sell all kinds of collectibles, including sports cards and action figures. The most popular ones are "Star Wars."
What's the history of your business?
We were at the farmers market for two years before we expanded for the first time. We promoted a card show for our church (Holy Trinity Armenian), and it did really well. We ended up promoting those card shows for about two years, and while we were promoting those shows, we opened up our first store.
Did you two think your business was going to last for so many years when you first started?
When we first opened our store, we were in high school. Our first contract with the farmers market downtown was for six months. They said, "Do you want to do a year lease?" and we said, "We don't know if it's going to last six months." Well, that was 23 years ago.
Ever think twice about working with family?
They say don't go into business with friends and family, and we've been in business for almost 24 years. I mean, I see my brother more than I see my wife. We have a wonderful time together, and we enjoy what we're doing. We're in this thing together.
What are your biggest rewards?
It's so neat seeing parents, who used to come in when they were younger, bring their kids because they're now getting excited about it. I love seeing that; it's just so cool. It's amazing, and it also makes us feel old that we know a gentleman who comes in with his family, and we have known him since he was 7 years old. But that shows they had a good time when they were young, and now they're bringing their kids.
What are your biggest challenges?
The Internet. It helps us and hurts us because we can sell things online, people can know about us online. But they can also buy online, so they don't have to come in here. Also when there is a sports strike, people don't care about buying cards at that time. What happens on the field also affects our business.
What is your philosophy on customer service?
Before we opened up, we would go into different places, and we knew how we wanted to be treated. If someone was mean to us, we did not want to go back. So we have incorporated that into our business. Always be friendly; enjoy yourself; and always try to make them feel like family when they come in here. We want people to feel welcomed and enjoy their experience here.
What is the secret for staying in business for so long?
Diversification. If we just had sports cards and not the other stuff that we had when the baseball strike happened, that would have killed us. But because, at that time, "Star Wars" was popular, that kept it going. Chris and I think that, because we get along so well, we transfer that into our customers, and they like coming here. It's a fun environment.
Owners: Chris and Marc Gooboian
Location: 3225 W. Shaw Ave., No. 115
Phone: (559) 225-9321
Annual sales: $240,000
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