April 23/18 UPDATE: Face Off Cards will be closing their doors. Go down and see them before their last day, May 18th.
“We’ve got a hole in the wall,” Rob, the owner of Face Off Sports Cards told me. He explained that the low rental cost is why he can keep his merchandise costs so low.
People come to Face Off Cards looking for a variety of things and they keep coming back because the prices are right.
Western Winnipeg’s hidden secret
Face Off Cards is a small hobby shop, tucked away behind Petro Canada and 7-11 near the intersection of Ness Avenue and Sturgeon Road.
And although they’ve occupied this particular “hole in the wall” since 1993 when Rob’s parents moved their new business from downtown Winnipeg out to the St. James neighbourhood, business is steady.
Rob has a very loyal customer base. And the thought of moving the store out of the general neighbourhood is not even an option.
But all the businesses in the nearby area will have to move soon – including the gas station and convenience store, two strip malls with restaurants and more, which share the large parking lot with Face Off Sports. The zoning has recently changed and condominiums will soon take over the the block.
The Face Off family
Face Off Sports Cards is a family run business. To be more precise, the store has been in the family since it opened in the early 1990s.
After his parents passed away within a few years of each other, Rob took over the store with the help of Trudy Frey. Trudy had been a loyal employee long before Rob took over and she knew the ins and outs of the business.
Unfortunately, during the writing of this article, I was shocked to hear the news that Trudy, this steadfast employee who continued to play an important role in the functioning of the store, had suddenly passed away. Her presence will be greatly missed at Face Off and at the Mulvey Flea Market.
Winnipeg Jets 1996 departure leaves a void
In 1996, after the Winnipeg Jets played their last game in Winnipeg and the franchise moved to Arizona, the sports card businesses throughout the city felt the deep loss.
NHL teams have a huge economic impact in their hometown and sports card stores in Winnipeg suffered. Sports card stores struggled to find ways to replace lost income after the NHL teams’ departure.
Face Off Sports Cards didn’t give up. Instead, they diversified.
More than hockey cards
Today, you’ll find a large selection of magic, Pokemon, Warhammer, HeroClix, and Dungeons & Dragons products and board games alongside an abbreviated sports card selection.
And while the card selection may be smaller than what it used to be, you can still find timeless relics in the display cabinets, unopened packs of hockey and baseball cards, and a couple rows of bargain priced inserts.
It’s worth the visit just to check out the memorabilia Rob has collected for his display cabinets. You can see his love of hockey’s history and its greatest stars.
A Hockey Hall of Fame puck autographed by Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, and Guy LaFleur.
Rob also has shelves packed with MacFarlane figures.
If you ever need a gift for a hockey-loving kid or adult and you live in the western Winnipeg neighbourhood, I highly recommend going down to Face Off Sports Cards and paying Rob a visit. He’s a quiet but friendly guy who will help you find exactly what you need.
Or if you want to talk hockey, he’ll do that too, until the next customer comes into the store and requires his attention.
Wishing you all the best as you look for your next location, Rob!