Dawson Reale is The Ultimate Collector.
At least, he runs the business. The 17-year-old has been selling sports memorabilia online since 2008, but recently upped the ante.
Now, he runs a physical storefront out of his dad's sports shop, Pro-Am Sportswear on Lasalle, where he sells to locals and has been shipping top-notch products around the world to online customers.
The Lockerby Composite School student said he's always been an avid sports fan. Now, in Grade 12, he's putting aside his love for playing to pursue the business end of the industry, following in the footsteps of his father.
“It runs in the family,” Dawson said with a laugh. “(Dominic Reale) is just like me. He was always a sports fan with a passion for business.”
Having his products in his father's shop is a good way for Reale to take advantage of customers looking for one-of-a-kind gifts and innovative items for anyone who loves sports. Customers are already coming in looking for sport-specific items, and signed prints are a great alternative to jerseys or other logo gear.
“When customers see the stuff I sell, they're not used to seeing it in Sudbury,” Reale said.
A lot of what he stocks are signed eight-by-ten prints of elite athletes.
Selling sports memorabilia, making industry contacts and running his own business is also a great way for the young entrepreneur to dabble in the profession he wants to pursue.
After graduating, Reale said he has his eye on Laurentian University's Sports Administration program. If all goes according to plan, he would one day love to receive a pay cheque from a professional sports franchise — working for “his teams” the Boston Red Sox or Boston Bruins would be ideal.
His experiences running the shop have been good so far.
“It's good for what I want to do in the future,” he said.
On top of that, Reale said he simply loves what he does. Operating the store forces him to stay current on the sports scene, which Reale doesn't mind doing.
“Knowing the industry is useful,” he said.
It allows him to be up-to-date with players on top of their games, and allows him to stock the items customers are most likely to seek. Being an entrepreneur has also led to some out-of-the-ordinary experiences for Reale.
Not long ago, he got to meet the Toronto Blue Jay's José Bautista, who signed items for Reale as well as clients.
“It can't get much better than actually standing beside the guy,” Reale said.
His shop is a prime example of “a hobby turned into a profitable business — it's even an enjoyable one,” he said.
Last December, Reale helped out at the Field of Dreams fundraiser put on by The Baseball Academy. He said he'd be more than happy to support other local sports organizations by auctioning or raffling memorabilia.
Stop by the shop inside Pro-Am Sportswear at 1775 Lasalle Blvd., or visit ultimatecollector.weebly.com.