Five Questions with Cathy Mahan
As a longtime sports fan growing up in Cincinnati, Cathy Mahan experimented with collecting during her childhood, as many of us did. But a pastime became a passion for her only in adulthood, spurred on by her husband and his card shop business.
These days, Mahan uses her platform to try and further open the hobby to women and other underrepresented groups. On her Instagram account, @WomenOfSportsCards, she routinely offers packs and event tickets to women just getting their start in collecting.
We chatted with Cathy about her start in collecting, her favorite cards, and her thoughts on the hobby’s future. Get to know Cathy a little better here with her Topps 5.
How did you get into collecting?
I got into collecting through my husband, Jimmy (Mahan, owner of Roadshow Cards). Growing up, I always loved playing and watching sports. So when Jimmy would show me his favorite cards, I already knew all the players. As he opened cards and showed them to me, I asked to open a few packs. After a bit, I was hooked! There is something special about hitting your first big card.
What type of collector are you?
I am a very eclectic collector! I have a little of everything from favorite players to favorite teams to favorite styles. Our family loves the Cincinnati Bengals, so we have lots of individual Bengals cards. But we also put together a few full NFL sets from our favorite players’ rookie seasons. I have lots of female athletes I like to collect, and I’m a big fan of soccer players in their USMNT/USWNT uniforms. I love great patch cards, so I get excited when I can find meaningful patches of my favorite players. (I might be in the minority, but I’ll take a great patch over an autograph any day.) And I love sketch cards — my favorites are a set of Rudyard Kipling characters that are all booklet sketches. Star Wars and Stranger Things sketches are a close second.
What is your biggest hit of all time?
I’ve opened a lot of cards and have some favorites, but one of my biggest hits is from the 2018-19 Topps Museum Collection. It’s a Lionel Messi card with a gold metal frame. I hit it last summer when we were in Dallas for the opening of the Texas Roadshow. I wanted to open some soccer cards and picked one box. I love opening boxes in the shops because the excitement is contagious … and I went a little nuts when I pulled it. I loved the card when I opened it, and when Messi went on to win the World Cup with Argentina, it got even better.
What are you chasing?
The biggest chase I have going on right now is for the last four cards from 2018 Prism Soccer National Landmarks. Jimmy and I are doing this insert set together, and we still need Messi, Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Son Heung-min. Several graded options have popped up online, but I’d like to find them raw to match the rest of our set. I am also chasing the rainbow of TJ White’s 2021 Bowman Chrome cards. I went to college with his parents, so even though I do not prospect MLB, I have an emotional connection. And then I am always on the lookout for unique Rhyne Howard cards and USMNT/USWNT patch cards. I told you I was all over the place!
What does the future of the hobby look like?
I am excited about the hobby’s future and think it continues to be more inclusive. Some great hobby groups – like Women of The Hobby – and card shops are working on expanding the hobby and making it easier for new collectors to feel welcome in the space. It is essential for card companies to make sure they are offering something for everyone and to have a low barrier to entry for new collectors. There is so much generosity in the hobby. Scammers and shady people get the most press, but the majority of the hobby is full of collectors and shops that want to share their love of collecting.
BONUS: Any funny stories from the shop?
There are so many great stories from the shop – you never know what will walk through the door! One time, a lady came in with a stuffed wildcat – not a stuffed animal, a taxidermied real-life wildcat! It had been in her son’s room; since he’d moved out and hadn’t taken the wildcat with him, she was ready to get rid of it. Jimmy bought it on the spot. A few weeks later, a customer came into the shop, did a double-take, and said, “Did my mom sell my wildcat?”
Another time, a dad came into the shop with his three children. The youngest was a little girl, around five years old, and she asked her dad if she could open a box of wrestling cards. This sweet little girl starts opening the cards, knows every single wrestler, and starts imitating each one! Her impressions were hilarious, and she knew all their catchphrases, too.
Last one: After the University of Kentucky volleyball team won their first National Championship, we had the team’s seniors come to the shop. We did a free signing for the community, and then the players played/peppered with the kids. The whole evening was a huge hit!
Be sure and check out our previous Topps 5 interview with Hanna Chang.