Collector’s World: A blast from the past with an eye on the future

(Muhd Asyraaf)

By Mohammed Michael Harfoush

A virtual treasure trove of cultural artifacts and memorabilia awaits those fortunate enough to wander into Collector’s World. From baseball cards, to signed football apparel, to Pokémon and Magic the Gathering merchandise, one can find a vast array of products and services at this local diamond in the rough.

When it comes to the actual experience of working for a small business, the General Manager of Collector’s World, Luis Guzman, says that being a small business employee allows him to have more freedom and creative control in his daily activities than he would if he worked for a corporation or big-box store, such as Walmart.

The “Wall of Comics” inside of Collector’s World. (Mohammed Michael Harfoush)

“The thing that I like about [working for a small business] versus the big stores, is that I get a lot more freedom as a manager. I get to make more decisions, and it allows me to be more involved, versus just having to respond to questions from corporate. You actually get to have a say in what goes on [in a small business],” says Guzman.

Guzman says he enjoys aspects of his work, such as cultivating good relationships with store regulars and seeing the business grow organically through word-of-mouth, rather than spending thousands of dollars on television advertisements or other non-organic means of growth.

Various collectables and signed sports memorabilia inside of Collector’s World. (Mohammed Michael Harfoush)

“A big difference between working for a small business versus a big-box store is, you tend to develop more of a relationship with the customers. You get to know them better on a one-on-one level. Here, they come in, you get to chat with them, figure out what they like, what they’re into, and then steer them in the right direction. We’ve had customers that have come in once, just to check the place out, you get to know them a little bit, and now they’re customers that we’ve had for two, three, four years — very steady, very loyal guys and gals,” says Guzman.

Collector’s World has maintained quite a few of its staples over the years, such as their regularly updated wall of comics, and their extensive back catalogue of rare and hard-to-find comics. But with changing trends and technology, Collector’s World, like many other businesses, has had to find new ways to showcase their growing inventory to bring a new generation of patrons not only through their doors, but to their corner of the digital marketplace as well.

A view of the main entrance to Collector’s World from the street. (Mohammed Michael Harfoush)

“We have to keep up with every trend. With the eBay mobile app, I can do a listing in two or three minutes, and then, BOOM, my item is up for sale for anybody in the world to buy. Why limit myself to Annandale, Falls Church, Fairfax and the surrounding area, when I can reach some guy in California, who needs that one baseball card to complete his set, or that one comic book to complete his whole collection? I just don’t see how any small business like ours can survive without an online presence these days,” says Guzman.

The times are changing, and what it takes to run a small business successfully is changing as well. Collector’s World knows what it takes to stay in the game these days. For those curious enough to take a trip down to Annandale to discover this gem of a store for themselves, the experience and environment will, more than likely, be incredibly rewarding and well worth the effort.


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