A new sports card and memorabilia shop opens in Apple Valley


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Jim Watson celebrated his 40th birthday by accomplishing a lifelong dream of owning a sports card shop. 

Jimbo’s Bases Loaded celebrated its soft opening on April 24, bringing the first sports card and memorabilia shop to Apple Valley for the first time in about three decades. 

Watson, who goes by Jimbo, and longtime friend Chris Bowman decided to partner up and finally open shop. 

“I’ve been collecting my whole life and always figured I would eventually do something with all my stuff,” Watson said. “I’ve got a three-bedroom house. Two of the rooms used to be my sports shrine. But being married and having a daughter eventually moved that into the garage. Now, here is my man cave with all my stuff.” 

The collecting buddies hope the shop will become a place for sports cards and collectible enthusiasts in the High Desert. The shop, located at 18835 Highway 18, is stocked with cards and collectibles from baseball to golf to wrestling. It has everything from individual cards worth a couple of bucks to sealed boxes to autographed jerseys and memorabilia.  

The initial business concept was thought of about 15 years ago after Bowman questioned what Watson was doing with so much sports memorabilia. The two have been friends since they were teenagers growing up in Victorville. 

“What are you doing with all this stuff? You’re just collecting stuff just to collect,” Bowman remembers telling Watson. “We originally wanted to start with an eBay store called 12by12 guys. But that never really materialized. Then things just kind of started falling in place over the last year, and here we are.” 

‘I thought those cards might just sit there.’

The shop’s first-ever transaction didn’t go as Watson or Bowman anticipated. 

It was a smooth sale. But the customer entered the shop and asked to look at a stack of Pittsburgh Pirates cards. The customer purchased a few of them, including catcher Henry Davis and an autograph of pitcher Mitch Keller. 

“I thought those cards might just sit there for like three years,” Watson said. “He also asked if I had any Jay Bell cards for sale. C’mon man! Who in the High Desert is asking to buy Jay Bell cards?” 

The following customer wiped out a small inventory of Garbage Pail Kids the shop offered. 

“He asked to buy one box, he opened it and then bought the rest of what we had left,” Watson said. 

The many unknowns and the thrill of hunting for the hobby’s next gem provide the beauty of card collecting, which has become a business driven by customers. 

Shop owners have long considered ways to appeal to customers, especially since the hobby really began to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I’m not sure what the market will be in the High Desert, but we just knew that there’s a lot of people up here that collect stuff,” Bowman said. “We are going to try to cater to everyone’s needs and have something for everyone, adults to kids, longtime collectors to new ones.” 

Watson had several people walk into the shop, looking to cash out on baseball cards they’ve been sitting on. Watson didn’t make any deals and doesn’t quite plan on buying anyone’s card collections or memorabilia.

But that’s not to say he won’t look at some things, especially if his favorite players are involved. 

“Mike Trout is my guy; it’s hard to pass on any of his stuff or the 49ers,” Watson said. 

It’s been a long time coming

Apple Valley resident Eric Schweizer has been collecting cards for over 50 years. Schweizer, 58, remembers owning countless cards in the 1970s and often thinks if he ever clipped any special ones to the spokes of his bicycle. 

What kid didn’t want their bike to sound like a Harley Davidson growing up? 

“Nolan Ryan and Reggie Jackson were my favorite players, so I always wonder if any of their rookie cards were used on my spokes,” Schweizer said.

Schweizer heard about a baseball card shop opening in Apple Valley several months ago and constantly drove up to see any signs of life. 

He drove up for the soft opening Wednesday afternoon and was impressed with the shop. After introducing himself to Watson and Bowman, he began to look at what he would be buying. 

He settled on some supplies and a pair of baseball card boxes called blasters.

“This is so awesome because now, if I ever need something, I don’t have to wait a week for the mailman to deliver. There’s now a place near home that I can come to, so that’s big for me,” Schweizer said. 

Shortly after Schweizer left, Eric Forrest of Pinon Hills pulled up and looked around. 

He was impressed by the various sports memorabilia, including the UFC gloves and cards on display. 

Forrest left Jimbo’s Bases Loaded with a stack of Pokémon card packs to go open with his 4-year-old daughter, Rayne. 

Forrest used to collect baseball cards but got out of collecting long ago. He was reeled back into the card community last Halloween. 

“We were trick-or-treating in Wrightwood, and my daughter got a pack of Pokémon cards,” Forrest said. “Once we got home, we opened it, and she was so excited to pull a Mimikyu. The next day, I bought her a pack of Pokémon cards. I bought her a booster pack, which she opened, and then I got some really cool cards that got her really excited. Every couple of days I will get her a pack, she’ll come jump up on my lap so we can open it up and go through each card individually. She gets so excited to learn all the Pokémon now.”

Yesterday’s price is not today’s price

During a tour of the card shop, Watson pointed at an autographed Frank Gore jersey on display for sale and shared a story that is all too common within the hobby. 

Several years ago, Watson, a die-hard San Francisco 49ers fan, traded an autographed card of a prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization for the jersey of one of his favorite players. 

It was a deal he couldn’t pass up at the time. 

Gore is a shoo-in for the NFL Hall of Fame as he’s the third leading rusher in league history. Unfortunately for Watson, the player on the card he traded is Ronald Acuna Jr., who won the National League’s MVP award last season. 

Across the nation, sports cards are sold and bought at fluctuating values. That Acuna card Watson traded away is now worth well over $1,000. 

If you plan on being in the hobby long, you’ve got to have some tough skin. 

Just ask Schweizer. 

He’s mostly a baseball card collector, but he sold one basketball card in particular about 15 years ago. He regrets it to this day. 

“It was an 8.5 graded Michael Jordan rookie card. Sold it in Las Vegas for about $700,” Schweizer said before he sucked his teeth. 

A 1986 Fleer Jordan rookie card recently sold on eBay for $6,100. 



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