Make us your home page
Instagram

eBay dropoff store in Clearwater specializes in vintage toys

CLEARWATER — Everybody collects something. Some people collect military helmets, antique cameras, 1920s radios, tintype photos.

Others collect vintage toys like cast-iron Matchbox cars, Flintstones gear from the '60s, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon rocket fighters. Wind-up toys of wood. Battery-operated ones of tin or plastic. Early Japanese robots. Prewar German dolls.

This is the idea behind an offbeat business in downtown Clearwater — the OpAmerica Toy and Bank Museum.

It has one foot in the physical world. It's an eBay drop-off store that helps people sell their stuff on the world's largest online auction site, in exchange for a commission.

It's the only one in north Pinellas County. Its nearest competitors are in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Pasco County. It operates out of a nondescript storefront at 205 S Myrtle Ave. in downtown Clearwater, which the owner chose based on the availability of cheap retail space.

It's not much to look at. But OpAmerica has a bigger presence in the digital world of eBay, where it maintains an online store for vintage toy collectors.

"We constantly get people coming in here to sell stuff," said manager Kevin Starkey. "We don't make money unless our customers make money."

They appraise an item and decide whether it's worth posting on eBay's online auction. If it is, they'll photograph it, set a minimum price and auction it off. They get a 20 to 40 percent cut, depending on a number of factors such as how long the item is posted for sale. The whole process usually takes about three weeks.

What kinds of things are they looking for?

"Old tintype and ambrotype photos, especially ones of soldiers or dogs. They bring crazy money," Starkey said. "Military gear. Anything military is pretty much a sure sell."

Sometimes there's a treasure to be found in the attic. Recently a woman brought in an old oscilloscope that had been owned by her late brother. It went for $2,375 on eBay.

But the store also turns some stuff down. They're not looking for baseball cards, coins or comic books. They don't have the expertise of shops that specialize in those things. They also don't deal with antique books or most old glassware.

There's a trove of toys in the warehouse where OpAmerica keeps its inventory of merchandise that's for sale on eBay. They range in price from museum-grade pieces all the way down to $1 auctions. They range in time from 1920s German dolls to Star Wars action figures.

"I'm an old toy collector. We go out looking for them," said the company's owner, Ken Byers of Clearwater. "Toys get fairly rare after a while. It's a nostalgia market.

"If you as a kid had a particular toy, and 25 years have passed and you say, 'I remember that toy, I'd love to see it again,' then you just go out and buy it. It rekindles that memory.''

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

Fast Facts

What: OpAmerica Toy and Bank Museum

Where: 205 S Myrtle Ave., Clearwater

Phone: (727) 724-4183

On the Web: Myopamerica.com



if you go

OpAmerica Toy and Bank Museum

What: OpAmerica Toy and Bank Museum

Where: 205 S Myrtle Ave., Clearwater

Phone: (727) 724-4183

On the Web: Myopamerica.com

eBay dropoff store in Clearwater specializes in vintage toys 07/10/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 10, 2010 2:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. St. Pete Beach may loosen beach drinking rules for hotel guests

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Drinking a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine may soon be legal on this city's beaches, but only for hotel guests in and around their hotel's beachfront cabanas.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering.  

  3. PunditFact: George Will's comparison of tax preparers, firefighters based on outdated data

    Business

    The statement

    "America has more people employed as tax preparers (1.2 million) than as police and firefighters."

    George Will, July 12 in a column

    The ruling

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
  4. Appointments at Shutts & Bowen and Tech Data highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Legal

    Retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott G. Johnson has joined Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office as a senior attorney in the firm's Government Contracts and Corporate Law Practice Groups. Johnson brings 15 years of legal experience and 24 years of naval service to his position. At Shutts, Scott will …

    United States Navy Commander (Retired) Scott G. Johnson joins Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office. [Company handout]
  5. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board

    Retail

    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]