Fundraiser started for longtime Wisconsin sports memorabilia shop damaged by flooding

Credit: Photo courtesy Tom Daniels

Credit: Photo courtesy Tom Daniels

A radio broadcaster in Wisconsin is trying to help a longtime sports memorabilia shop owner recoup his losses after heavy rains last month washed away his business, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

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Jon Arias, a radio announcer at WTSO and voice of the women's basketball and volleyball team broadcasts at the University of Wisconsin, started a GoFundMe account for Tom Daniels, whose shop has been a fixture in Madison for 36 years.

The Baseball Card Shoppe, located at the Westgate Mall in Madison, was severely damaged Aug. 20. The store was located below street level at the mall, and water that built up after torrential rains broke through a wall into the 1,200-square-foot shop, Sports Collectors Daily reported. Cards, autographs and memorabilia worth more than $300,000 were damaged, including vintage football cards from the 1950s and basketball cards from the 1960s. The shop was flooded with 4 feet of water.

“I felt bad,” said Arias, 38, who got back into collecting this summer. “I felt kind of devastated, it was a cool place.”

Wisconsin had the highest rainfall totals in the United States over the last two weeks of August, the Post Crescent of Appleton reported. Officials at the National Weather Service in Milwaukee said some parts of Wisconsin were drenched with up to 15 inches of rain during that period, the newspaper reported.
Although Daniels had flood insurance for 35 years, his insurance company discontinued policies for sports card shops last year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. That made assessing the damage even more painful, Daniels said.

"Some of the cards were floating halfway down the halls of the mall," Daniels told Sports Collectors Daily. "It stretched 120 feet."

Daniels was in Nevada competing in the Reno/Tahoe Senior Games when the flooding occurred. The Wisconsin native, who turned 72 on Wednesday, won his age group in the 50-yard dash and softball throw and took second in the 100-yard dash, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

“I’m lucky I wasn’t home,” Daniels told the collectibles site. “I would have been putting stuff on higher shelves.

“We had some of those big glass cases, and the water took two of them and threw them through the shop. Somebody could have gotten hurt.”

Daniels returned to Madison on Aug. 22 and began cleaning up his shop.

"I probably threw away 200 trash bags," Daniels told Sports Collectors Daily.

“I saw a Jack Morris rookie card on the ground and picked it up,” Arias said. “It was curled and damp. Ruined.”

Daniels said he was able to salvage approximately $50,000 of merchandise in the shop, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

The GoFundMe page Arias started has raised more than $1,300 in four days.

Daniels said he would probably have a flood sale for the remaining cards, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Then what?

"I don't know, I told my wife I was going to retire when I was 70," Daniels told Sports Collectors Daily, laughing.

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