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If you’re thinking about a holiday gift for the sports fan in your life, there shouldn’t be any problem finding a special item for them.
About four years ago, sports memorabilia guru Brandon Steiner established a new venture, CollectibleXchange, after he broke off from his longtime business, Steiner Sports, that he started modestly in 1987. The website has about 150,000 items to choose from that can be purchased and shipped in time for the holidays.
For Steiner, a Brooklyn native and longtime Scarsdale resident, the hook for the fan and their friends and family members is the enormity of the collection at CollectibleXchange. There’s the tried and true – think anything from Mariano Rivera, Patrick Ewing or Mark Messier – to the more obscure such as an autographed photo of jockey Victor Espinoza hitting the finish line at the Belmont Stakes to win the Triple Crown aboard American Pharoah in 2015.
In fact, there is merchandise from each one of the 124 professional sports franchises in the four major North American sports.
Best of all, there are loads of items that you can find for under $100.
“That’s the sweet spot, and what’s nice about this is that it’s not crap,” Steiner said. “You could pick up a nice gift for $50, $100, no problem.”
Since launching the Yonkers-based CollectibleXchange in 2019, Steiner has amassed an impressive array of signed balls, bats, pucks, jerseys, trading cards and almost anything else that can take an autograph. He’s also started collecting merchandise from a wide assortment of other sports, including golf, the Olympics, the UFC and memorabilia from the Indy 500.
In time, Steiner believes CollectibleXchange’s collection can top one million items, by focusing on many international sports, such as rugby and Japanese baseball teams, as well as collegiate sports teams.
“I’m hoping to have one of the most diverse, biggest (memorabilia) websites in the world,” he said. “It’s not there yet. It’s definitely one of the bigger ones, but I never had more than like 35,000 (items) with Steiner (Sports).”
What’s fueling the explosion of collectibles is more than just sports being popular, Steiner said. Many baby boomers are aging and relocating or downsizing and the items they’ve carried with them from childhood in many cases can not only get passed down to a new generation of fans, but gives them some extra cash while unburdening their living quarters.
“I love it because it’s kind of helping both sides,” Steiner said. “If you’re a collector, you love going on this because you find all these diamonds in the rough. Then if you’re trying to downsize, or unfortunately, somebody’s passed away, there’s somebody there trying to tidy up and get these things all put together. So it’s kind of like a two-pronged (market) helping two sets of people.”
Then more women than ever are not just buying gifts for their husbands and children but for themselves and their friends, Steiner said. Today, there may be more serious women sports fans than at any time in his life.
He’s also branched out into the music and entertainment industry, having obtained thousands of items such as signed CDs and posters from the now defunct J&R, an iconic music store that for decades occupied a location in lower Manhattan.
Steiner said he sometimes has bands contact him to get rid of collections of old items so maybe they’ll find a home or as part of a fundraiser. Steiner said everything that is bought from an outside source goes through a rigorous authentication process before it’s put up for sale.
What’s hot and what’s not often depends on the vagaries of how the New York area teams are faring, Steiner mentioned. Entering the 2023 holiday season, Rangers merchandise is being snapped up with the team off to a sizzling start and it being the 30th anniversary season of their last Stanley Cup.
But there are also surprises. There has been a run on items from women athletes, perhaps none more than soccer player Alex Morgan.
Steiner said it’s ironic that after more than 30 years building up the Steiner Sports name, he’s trying to get fans reoriented to a different brand. But it’s something that he has done now for nearly four decades and loves doing it.
“You work your whole damn life to get people to think Brandon Steiner and Steiner Sports in the same sentence,” he said. “Now I’ve got to spend the rest of my life working out of that.
To learn more about CollectibleXchange or to see what’s available, visit www.CollectibleExchnage.com.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/