As a baseball card and memorabilia collector, I have been collecting sports pieces for years and have been to multiple card shops around Cincinnati.

baseball field

The best shop I’ve been to is in Hamilton County on Glenway Ave. here in Cincinnati, not far from where Cincinnati Reds legend Pete Rose grew up. It’s called Ideal Baseball Cards. It isn’t just a shop full of baseball cards and memorabilia; they also have coins, jewelry, and some historical relics. I have been there several times and can say that it’s one of my favorite spots in Cincinnati.

It’s run by two men named Mike and Douglas. They’re two of the most knowledgeable people I have met, especially when it comes to sports. When I interviewed Douglas, a substitute teacher and active member of his church, I asked him about his job at Ideal, and how he began working there with Mike. Douglas’s story is super interesting, as is Mike’s. They’ve become close over the last 15 years.

Before Douglas was an employee, he was a customer who impressed Mike with his knowledge of sports cards. Although he lives over 40 minutes away, his visits to the store became more frequent. Eventually Mike asked Douglas if he would like to be an employee, and Douglas took him up on the offer. In our interview, Douglas emphasized how rare it is for Mike to hire people. He’s not going to hire just anybody, so he must have seen a valuable asset and a good friend in Douglas. 

I asked Douglas about his collections that he built over the years. He started collecting bottle caps as a child, and, as Douglas himself stated, “The concept of collecting sort of stuck.” This would evolve into sports cards, mementos, and just about everything else he could get his hands on.

“I realized that by collecting baseball cards, I could dream as big as I wanted,” he remembers. He also showed me his personal bunker where he keeps all of his collectables and collected items obtained over the years, mostly by trading, and they are impressive. These items include an old cash register, coins from the late 50s and early 60s, thousands of cards, and more. Mike was right to hire Douglas. Together the two of them really raise Ideal above other sports and memorabilia shops. 

Douglas also emphasizes a fact that every collector must hear and understand. In his words, “You never want stuff to define you. You want actions and experiences to define you.” These words are especially powerful. What Douglas is saying is that someone shouldn’t use an impressive or expensive collection as their main quality. They should use more influential means to make a presence in the world.

Mike is the original owner of Ideal and has been the owner for 22 years. The story of how he got Ideal is worth sharing. When Mike was a child, his family opened a grocery store. Then when he was a teen, they also started a comic book store, which didn’t last too long. In the early 2000s, Mike bought a business from his father. This business would become Ideal Baseball Cards. 

Online across many local platforms, the reputation and reviews of Ideal Baseball Cards are overwhelmingly positive. The customer service presented by both Mike and Douglas are almost unmatched. The atmosphere when you first enter the store is welcoming and friendly.

Even if you aren’t overly interested in sports memorabilia or collectables, I encourage you to check the place out. You can learn a lot.