Arizona Collectors Marketplace: A Community For The Young At Heart
Depending on your age group, you may have spent your childhood amassing Gumbys, Rainbow Brites or Beanie Babies. But while your collection is gathering dust in an attic or buried deep in a landfill, there’s an active and dedicated group of toy collectors here in Phoenix. As part of our community series "We Are the Valley," we go to a place where people can share in their less-common passions.
The Arizona Collectors Marketplace is packed with every kind of toy and collectible you can imagine.
“When people find us, they walk in the door and they just have this 'nerdvana' look to them, they’re just in heaven," said manager Casey Goslin.
He said the marketplace got off the ground about four years ago.
“We started doing Saturday toy shows over at 7th Avenue and Camelback inside of an old Blockbuster," Goslin said.
They quickly found a dedicated group of buyers and sellers and started staying open seven days a week.
“We outgrew that small spot and we moved here two years ago," Goslin said.
“Here” is a 7,000-square-foot building a lot like an antique mall, with all the vendors occupying their own spaces. On Saturdays, the marketplace hosts a swap meet in the back of the building, bringing together people from across the Southwest.
“On an average Saturday, we get between two and five hundred people through the doors.”
No matter what you love, you can easily make a friend who shares your passion: Batman, “He-Man,” vintage Barbies, “Star Trek,” plus everyone’s favorite amphibian Kermit the Frog.
Longtime toy collector Mark Palio said the stigmas about these kinds of interests are long gone.
“If you’re wearing, say, a Batman shirt or a Spider-Man shirt," Palio said. "You can feel good that you’re wearing it and not having people shake their head like, ‘Boy, look at that guy, he’s still living like a kid. What, is he wearing his underoos also?’”
But even if the stigmas are gone, Palio likes having a place to come where people just get it. Manager Casey Goslin agrees.
“We’ve built a community and we operate as one," Goslin said. "If I don’t have something in my shop that somebody else has, I have no problem directing a customer over to another guy that has it. It’s that community aspect that keeps bringing people back.”