When Brenden Taheny, one of the founders of Card Pop, opened the store in June, he wanted to create an inclusive space for everyone interested in card games, regardless of their experience. Card Pop opened their doors on the first of June, about six months ago.
“We’re trying to blend everybody together to make everybody feel like they can go to one place, and you know, learn about other things in the process,” said Taheny.
They sell items such as Pokémon cards, sports cards, card collecting accessories, imported snacks and even shoes. As soon as one walks in you can see the array of Pokémon cards along the back wall, across from the entrance. On the right, there’s a wall of collectable sports cards. What catches the eye, is the number of Pokémon and sports cards in the glass display cases in front of the walls, with signs reminding people not to lean on the glass.
The wall on the left is stocked with snack like chips and candies, a couple in different languages. Next to the snacks, are the variety of card collecting accessories, like sleeves and top loaders.
Taheny opened the shop alongside Card Pop’s additional founders, who own other businesses in the area. He said the other founders believed a shop like Card Pop would fit right in the Joliet area.
“There hasn’t been a real gaming store in the area in quite a few years, there’s not really a card shop in Joliet itself,” Taheny said. “You have to kind of travel to the surrounding towns if you are looking for one.”
Aside from cards, the shop also has an array of snacks from different countries. Some people have come in with no desire to collect or learn about card collecting; instead, they come just for the snack section.
“I have people that come on a weekly basis that are not into cards or collecting in any kind of way,” Taheny said. “They love snacks. And they love trying different things, whether it’s Oreos from Korea, or candies from Japan or chips from Thailand.”
The shop hosted a Trade Night event
, in September, where families, children, adults, and friends gathered for an open marketplace to sell and trade. Taheny said it was great to see so many people interact with one another.
Tony Arroyo, an avid collector of Power Rangers, Pokémon, and Digimon, attended the event with his goddaughter. They both post to social media unboxings of different products and their hobby of collecting.
“With Card Pop opening and doing trade events, it’s allowed [his goddaughter] to connect with kids her age that share [the] hobby and get closer and become friends.” Arroyo said.
He said the workers of Card Pop were great with them and other customers. “They [are] willing to help answer any question you have about Pokémon, baseball cards or even about shoe collecting.” Arroyo said.
The shop plans to host more events only for people who play specific games. Taheny said as he and the other founders continue to meet the community, they are also learning the percentages of how many people play certain games. They plan to use this info to plan game nights and find out the most efficient way to distribute their time to what games.
Javier Arroyo, who has been helping the store since the opening and has been working part-time for about a month and a half, says shoppers often ask about Pokémon.
“It’s definitely mainly children, but you do get people of all ages looking at Pokémon,” he said.
Besides hosting more events, the shop is also looking to grow their team. They’re possibly looking for someone who can assist with social media. They would like to grow their interactions online according to Taheny.
“I’m looking for more of creativity and positivity, and somebody that wants to be here, rather than just trying to fill a position with someone,” he said.