Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Pierre McCauley
Carbondale Community High School
David Easton lives in a world that seems to never age.
Easton, whose friends call him Dave, has collected trading cards since he was young. He had a passion for playing baseball growing up, spurring his interest in collecting baseball cards.
“I can’t even remember how long it has been since I’ve collected cards,” Easton said adding he first focused on cards featuring NBA, NFL and MLB players.
He may not know exactly when he started; all he knows is he was hooked. His collection started to grow, and he realized how important cards could be to people. In high school, Easton, now 43, wanted to create a business specializing in selling and collecting cards.
While he knew he wanted a brick-and-mortar store one day, Easton decided instead to use the resources he had at hand – eBay. Through his online business, he built a solid financial footing. Easton sold collectable cards, ranging from major league sports to such games like “Pokémon” and “Yu-Gi-Oh.” He felt he was on a roll and ready to start his company.
He wanted a name for his business that would grab the attention of his customers. Since he collected sports cards first, he chose a sports-related name, The End Zone. By 2004, he was ready to move from having just an Internet business to finally having a retail store, where people could trade in person. He’s been at 1622 Broadway Ave. in Mattoon ever since.
“I’ve had to overcome obstacles like any other business,” Easton said. Some of those problems were simply financial and the challenges of marketing and finding new customers. But at the same time, trends were changing, and sports cards were becoming less popular.
“I saw the business industry, in regard to cards, was changing,” Easton said. “People were getting more into game cards these days.”
Even he was beginning to get more involved with game cards and starting to lose interest in sports cards. After recognizing this new trend, he started transforming his sports-card business into a game-card business.
He has also expanded into the video game industry. Customers can trade video games and comic books at The End Zone.
Selling cards isn’t the only service the store has to offer. The End Zone hosts tournaments, offers rooms for people to play games and acts as a place for collectors to meet and trade among themselves. Easton enjoys the business solely for the atmosphere of the place, where he can meet new people with similar personalities.
The End Zone will celebrate its 10-year anniversary next year. After almost 10 years owning a card store, Easton still has his childhood passion.