On a Saturday at the end of April, Jeff Lentz was busy getting things in order at his new shop, Yellowhammer Cards & Gaming.
Boxes of sports, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards were scattered about on the floor, while autographed and framed athletic jerseys leaned against the wall waiting to be hung and a vintage NFL Blitz video game stood ready for a player to press “play.”
The official opening of the store was still a week away, and the bright Yellowhammer sign was already attracting attention. On that Saturday, a young girl and her mother peered in the window to see if the store was open. Lentz allowed them in and spent 10 minutes or so talking about Yu-Gi-Oh and what they can expect once the shop opens, before sending them off with some free merchandise and huge smiles.
Clearly, Lentz was having the time of his life and couldn’t wait until his store was ready to meet the public.
“We have a lot of people already walking in, and we’re not even open yet,” Lentz said in April. “The sign has only been up for two weeks, and there’s been a lot of activity.”
A native of Marietta, Georgia, Lentz grew up playing football in the area and was once coached by professional wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes. Lentz moved to Wilsonville with his parents before moving to Chelsea with his family, where he coaches youth basketball and his son plays football.
Lentz spent a dozen years in the automobile business, selling cars for Benton Nissan, until the coronavirus-related shutdowns in 2020. An avid sports card collector and trader since childhood, Lentz’s hobby turned into a side hustle and, before long, he decided the time was right to turn his passion into a business.
“I’ve been doing it as a hobby just having fun,” Lentz said. “Once COVID hit, I thought, ‘I do this anyway; I may as well not work anymore.’ Once they shut down our work, I didn’t go back and hopefully will not.”
Yellowhammer Cards & Gaming, situated on U.S. 280 between Hunan Cuisine and A’more Ristorante Italiano, takes up two units in the two-story strip mall on the edge of Double Oak Mountain.
Lentz’s vision has become reality.
For instance, a large, sectional sofa is already in place facing a big-screen television for showing important sporting events. Lentz wants the shop to be a place for dads and sons, mothers and daughters to spend some time browsing, playing Pokemon games and watching a ball game.
“I wanted it to be more of like a hangout instead of the typical shop, where you walk in and there’s stuff everywhere and you have one little alley to walk and feel bad if you don’t buy anything,” Lentz said.
At its core, Yellowhammer Cards & Gaming is a shop for sports card enthusiasts of all ages. Around the store, Lentz has boxes upon boxes of cards featuring star and upcoming athletes representing every sport imaginable, from the more familiar leagues like the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NFL, to leagues and organizations rising in popularity like Formula 1, Ultimate Fighting Championship and the English Premier League.
But it’s not just sports cards that are popular right now. In 2023, cards featuring Disney characters are hot, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the entertainment giant.
Lentz is also ensuring that every level of enthusiast can find something within their budget, from dollar packs for kids looking to spend their allowance money to the serious collector who may drop several thousand bucks on a single card and considers the hobby an investment.
“If you invested in Pokemon when it first came out or the Michael Jordan Fleer 1987 card, it outpaces the stock market,” Lentz said. For example, YouTube star Logan Paul paid more than $5 million for a Pokemon Pikachu Illustrator card in 2022.
While this is an extreme example, part of the allure of collecting cards is the chance that you may just possess a diamond in the rough. Lentz said one of the services Yellowhammer Cards & Gaming will provide is appraising cards and memorabilia and, if an item has significant value, either buy it or put it up for sale.
“There are probably 100 people within a mile from here that have a fortune sitting in their attic and don’t even know it,” Lentz said. “Bring it in.”
Yellowhammer Cards & Gaming opened at 5510 U.S. 280 in May.