A virtually perfect sports card is called a Gem 10. Many collectors have their sports cards graded by a third party for authenticity and condition and then ranked on a 10-point scale. Graded cards are then permanently encased in plastic with grade and card.
Brian Hronski opened Hondo’s Gem 10 Sports Cards & Collectables on Sept. 2, 2021 at 5005 University Ave NE. It’s filled with memorabilia for all sports. Hondo is a nickname given to Hronski by his high school baseball coach. At first, he hated the name and then all of his friends started to call him that and now he has come to embrace it and named his store after it.
For 17 years, he was Parks and Recreation Director at Lino Lakes and was laid off due to COVID-19. He thought now is the time to see “if he could get started in a small space to make his love of sports collectibles into a profitable business”. Like many, the pandemic forced people to reevaluate their work and future. Hronski stated, “If COVID hadn’t come along, I would still be with Parks and Rec and played it safe.” But he always wanted to be his own boss and now is “living his dream.” Since many people were home during the pandemic spending time on hobbies, sports collecting is a hot market.
Hronski has been a collector all of his life. The store is filled with items he has personally bought, or found at thrift stores, garage sales or people will bring in their collections to sell. From team jerseys, ticket stubs, sports cards, autographed merchandise and bobbleheads are only a few of the items that fill the store. There are collectibles for every budget and if he doesn’t have what you’re looking for in his store – he will likely have it in storage as his store cannot contain all of his collection. A personal favorite is a 1939 Joe DiMaggio rookie card that his grandfather first owned and it was passed to his dad and now in his collection. Another favorite is a 1969 authentic grey flannel jersey worn by Twins player Rich Reese.
Hours are Sunday-Wednesday by appointment; Thursday, 1-6 p.m.; Friday, 12-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Collectors can follow Hondo on Instagram at @Hondosgem10 where he posts photos of recent sales or the website www.hondosgem10.com.
Below: Brian Hronski operates Hondo’s Gem 10 in Columbia Heights. (Photo by Patti Hoffmann)