Tonawanda News

February 5, 2013

Dave and Adam's enters comic book trade

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — The town is home to the world’s largest online seller of trading cards, and now, Dave and Adam’s is vying for the same achievement for a different collectible — comic books.

“We have a meeting with the company directors every to year to talk about new business ideas,” said Adam Martin, the CEO and co-founder of Dave and Adam’s Card World. “I felt it was something there was money in ... and I ran with it.”

The local institution, dating back to 1991, has bought $500,000 worth of comic books since they began the venture in the summer, with their most recent coming from Louisiana and costing $145,000. 

So far, their stock includes the first comics that ever featured X-Men and the Avengers, published in 1963, and since they are both in good condition, the pair is worth $50,000. 

The company has added four employees to manage comic book purchases and this year alone, they are attending 25 comic book conventions. Currently, one employee is in California on a buying spree. 

Martin said the company are attempting to launch a separate website for the books in June, and by 2014, they hope to be the largest online seller of classic comics.

“We were somewhat shocked and surprised that vintage comic books are more popular than vintage baseball cards. As a card collector, that just hurts,” Martin joked. 

All the comics are graded by an outside company, Certified Guaranteed Company, that evaluates the condition of the book and ensures they haven’t been tampered with or altered.

The company undergoes a similar process for trading cards, a portion of the business that’s continuing to boom.

Orders for the company’s trading cards come in by the hundreds everyday, from all around the world. Friday, Martin leafed through the day’s orders, which included ones from Italy, North Dakota and Brazil.

One of the company’s two warehouses located in the office building in the town, measuring at about 3,400 square feet, holds, at any point, between $15 million and $20 million worth of trading cards.

Friday, Martin said the warehouse held $17 million in inventory. 

And it doesn’t stop there.

The company recently took over another nearby warehouse, which is full of 2,600 square feet of the company’s inventory, which also includes Reebok clothing and Sabres merchandise.

“We have a very unique relationship with each one of the Sabres,” Martin said, as the players often meet up with him to sign pictures and memorabilia.

Thirty percent of that stock is donated to charity each year.

“We started doing really well after about three or four years, and we decided to give back,” Martin said.

Martin and his business partner, Adam Silver, the company’s chief financial officer, met at card shows during college, and a few years later, they decided to ditch their intended career paths and start their own card shop in the City of Buffalo on Elmwood

Avenue.

“We hoped we had enough money to eat...and then get beer too,” Martin, who loved collecting cards since he was a kid, said. “They were so, so many startups at the time, and we didn’t know how it was going to go.”

But after a while, the business began to take off, and for more square footage and parking, they moved the store to Sheridan in the town. In 1996, the business became the largest seller on eBay. 

“We went from six employees to 60 pretty quickly,” Martin said.

Now, the company has four retail stores and employs 70 people, some of which are quite close to the company. Martin’s brother is the head of the IT department, and Brian Sampson, another employee, has also known Martin since he was a kid.

“I started going into their card store on Elmwood when I was young,” Sampson, of Kenmore said. “I graduated, and they asked me to join, and I did.”  

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150