For most sports enthusiasts, collecting sports cards and memorabilia is an added passion to the sports fandom. These hobbies usually start when they were kids and continues for them into adulthood. Many collectors have the hope of passing their collection down to the next generation and beyond. Other collectors are more into the hobby as a business. These collectors tend to move product and valuable items. They don’t want to see those items sit on their shelves. Whichever collector you may be, keep in mind that card collecting has come a long way. Stacks of cards rubber banded together in an old shoe box are not the way of things anymore.

With collectors today, its not only WHO’s on the card, but also the condition of the card that counts. Sports cards can lose their value instantly with one bent corner, or scratched front, or with any kind of weathering. So it is super important to take the most extreme care with your cards. That way you can keep the value of the card, and prolong its’ excellent condition.

The methods of storing and tools used to preserve your sports cards have changed dramatically. The advancements in storage methods that have occurred now focus on the longevity of life of the card. This serves to preserve the value of the card. These newer methods are also great when storing your items in a storage unit. When you are moving to a new home or if you run out of space for your collection at home; a storage unit can be a great place to store your collection, IF you store it correctly.

BUT WAIT! Before you put all your cards and memorabilia into the first storage place you find, read below.

Hazards to Sports Cards and Memorabilia

As with all things, there are hundreds and hundreds of ways to ruin your sports cards and memorabilia collection. Drastic changes in temperature, humidity, and UV light can cause damage. So can dust, rodents and pests, excessive handling, and improper storing methods. These hazards can damage anything and everything you deem valuable. This is why it is imperative to take precautions when storing sports cards and memorabilia. Do your homework on the storage property you select. Keep these hazards away. Preserve your cards and memorabilia in their mint to perfect condition.

First in this article, we will look at ways to preserve the sports cards in your collection; then, we will go over ways to protect the various items considered to be sports memorabilia.

Storing your Sports Cards

Penny Sleeves and Top Loaders

Proper storage of your sports cards collection starts with the PENNY SLEEVE. These are the first barrier of protection for your cards. They are exactly what the name suggests. They are sold usually in packs of 100, and usually cost about a penny a piece.

When you buy a box of cards immediately place them into a penny sleeve. Most card retailers offer a discount to collectors when you buy penny sleeves in bulk. You can never, ever, ever have too many sleeves available for your collection. Don’t let those new cards lose value because you put off or waited putting them in a penny sleeve.

Once these new cards are in a penny sleeve, the next step to preserve these cards is to use a TOP LOADER, which is similar to the penny sleeve but it is made from a harder type plastic. There are dozens of types of top loaders, different sizes to match the type of card, and different thicknesses of these top loaders to coincide with the thickness of the card itself. Not every single card needs to be in a top loader, but, the more valuable ones that are worth more than a common card need to be stored in a penny sleeve first and then a top loader next. The types of top loaders vary, and will offer double protection from the hazards that can come for your collections. With some of the top loaders offering maximum protection by having interlocking hinges and/or screws that keep the card in place.

These types of protectors are made and sold to hold the top dollar cards, the most expensive cards of your collection, and the cards most valuable to you, the collector.

Storage Boxes – 2,500 to 5,000

Storage boxes for your sports card collections have changed drastically from the old shoebox with rubber banded cards in it. Cardboard storage boxes now come in quantity sized variations, ranging from 100 to 5,000 count boxes. The storage boxes many collectors use are sized from 2,500 to 5,000 count, with options of a 2 rowed shoebox style holding an estimated 2,500 cards; a four rowed storage box that best fits cards in a penny sleeve and top loader holding an estimated 3,500; and the 5 rowed 5,000 count storage box which is best suited for your common cards that are not in a penny sleeve or top loader.

The 2,500 count box is usually made of double corrugated cardboard, with a matching lid, and is sized accordingly to hold cards that are stored in a penny sleeve and top loader. Most collectors use this style of box to hold their very best cards, to maximize protection during storage.

The 3,500 count box has 4 rows and a lid that completely covers the box, still sized to hold cards that are stored in penny sleeves and top loaders; however the 3,500 count does not reflect how many top loader held cards it can hold. This 3,500 number is based on card storage without any added protection. This box is still a collector favorite for being able to hold a substantial number of protected cards, and the box is made for longer duration storing.

The 5,000 count box is a 5 rowed cardboard box with an enclosed lid that is best suited for common cards or cards that hold no real value and you need someplace high capacity to hold them and protect them. Most collectors will have many of these 5,000 count boxes in their collections, as not all cards will be worth something; with common cards outnumbering the star player cards by a large margin. These boxes are best for storing your cards and should be the only way you store larger collections of sports cards.

Sports Cards Binders

The most basic type of card storage is the three-ring binder with clear pages that are sized to hold sports cards. There are pages that hold up to 18 cards per page facing front and back, there are also pages sized for larger sized cards and even the miniature sized cards. If you are a collector that wants to constantly admire or show off your collection, then this type of storage for your sports cards is best for you; but storing your cards this way can cause damage to your collection.

Storing your cards with clear pages in binders has a few ways that can cause damage to your cards; they allow UV light to hit your cards, which can cause a degradation of the condition. Also, with this type of storing, collectors have a tendency to handle their cards more often, which can cause damage to your collection. Plus, these pages are not very rigid, allowing the cards to be bent in the page and that causes heavy damage and can ruin your collection. If you are storing your cards in a binder with pages, it is best to only store cards facing one way, limiting the pages to 9 cards per page, and also use a penny sleeve.

Most of the pages that are sold now have space for the cards to be in a penny sleeve and then stored in those pages. This allows for a little more protection while storing your cards. Storing your sports cards this way is totally OK, but keep in mind the dangers that can come from this type of sports card storage.

Protecting Your Memorabilia

Types of Sports Memorabilia

Sports memorabilia can be considered anything like game jerseys, magazines, event tickets, game balls, bats, helmets, hats, shoes, banners, flags and so many other things; so protection and preservation for these items can be a bit tricky. No matter what your collection includes, there are some great ways to preserve these items.

Cases and Containers

There are some specialty stores today that know that sports memorabilia collectors can consider every type of thing as collectible. Being able to protect and preserve the condition of these items is big business. A couple of the big name hobby shops have areas of their stores dedicated to items that protect and store whatever items you deem collectible.

For whatever you collect, there are hard plastic cases and containers to store these items that help you maintain the condition of the item and help you keep up the value of that item. There are cases that are specifically shaped to hold baseball bats, football helmets, all kinds of sports balls, hats, and a slew of other misshapen items. These cases are durable and an excellent way for showcasing your memorabilia and valuable items. One thing to remember with these cases is that there is still the issue with UV light harming and discoloring your cased items. Direct sunlight or certain types of in home lighting can fade the colors of your protected item. Keep this in mind when displaying or showing off your items.


For pictures, sports jerseys, magazines or programs, and other sports memorabilia that is flat, it might be best to get that item framed. There are professional framing stores that can do this for you. Keep in mind the cost to use this type of company. You can frame it yourself using how to videos from the internet if budget is a concern.

When you frame your items, you are protecting the condition, restricting the item itself from being manhandled, and allowing the frame to take the hits and scratches. This type of protection for your items can help these valuable retain their condition and overall worth. However, just like the display cases and containers, direct sunlight and UV lights can still harm your items. Keep this in mind when you are displaying your items on the wall, as you do not want to hang these valuables directly underneath a light or near a window.

Storing Sports Cards and Memorabilia in a Storage Unit

Sometimes the situation arises for you to have the need to put your sports cards and memorabilia in a storage unit; perhaps when you are moving or if you are just running out of space at home. When this occurs, take a moment and ask yourself questions and go over what your storage plans are, what your need is, how much space you need, and how long you need the space. Knowing what your needs are BEFORE you rent a storage space will help you in the long run with storing your sports cards and memorabilia.


When looking for a storage unit to store sports cards and memorabilia, knowing that the items you are going to store are valuable and need to stay that way should be your number one motivation for finding the best storage space possible. The first thing you need to make sure of when you are storing these valuables is the climate of the storage space. Make sure that you are looking at units that are either air cooled or air conditioned.

These types of storage spaces are primarily inside the building at the storage facility; don’t fall for a “climate controlled drive-up unit”, as there is no way to regulate temperature to a unit with a door that is outside in the elements. It’s better to find an inside unit, where the outside heat and humidity do not play a factor in the storage of your items.

These units can be a little less convenient to store your items, but preserving value and condition is what your main goal should be. Air cooled or air conditioned units maintain a better temperature, reduce the dryness or humidity in the unit, and help to attain prime atmospheric conditions when storing sports cards and sports memorabilia. Most Storage West locations offer air cooled storage units inside their buildings and some location offer air conditioned spaces. This makes us a great place to store your sports cards and sports memorabilia.


The second most valuable thing to take notice of when looking for a storage unit for your sports cards and collectibles is the security of the facility. Take a tour of the facility; see what security measures the facility offers to secure and protect your items. You want to see what kind of video cameras and surveillance the facility offers, if the units are alarmed, what the gate hours are, among other security features.

Here at Storage West on Eastern, we have 24 hour digital video surveillance, individual gate codes for our tenants to show entrance and exiting of the property, each one of our units are individually alarmed and deactivated with your personal gate code, laser lined exterior walls to restrict access, as well as normal gate hours which restrict people from being on property at any and all hours of the night. Our facility is as safe and secure to help deter from security issues or problems.

Space, Space, Space

Once you have found a facility that offers safe and secure inside air cooled or air conditioned units, now it is time to assess what size space you need. If you are in the process of moving and are only storing your items for short term, a smaller more compact space is best, allowing you to minimize the amount of money you spend on the space while making sure that it fits all of the items you need to store.

If you are a collector who has run out of space at home, a larger space may be what you need, especially if you are a collector that is going to be continually adding to your collection, or needs to have constant contact with your items. This may be where you spend an abundant amount of time and space to organize and move around inside of the unit would be best for you; even having room for a chair and desk area to work on is key to help with your organization.

The one thing to figure out is what kind of use you want from the space. You don’t want to move your items into a storage space, and then have to move them around again. It is always best to have a little more room than you think you need.

Off the Floor

Now you have your space and you are starting to put your collectibles into the unit. It is recommended to use shelves, blankets, or pallets to keep your items off of the floor. Shelving units need to be able to hold the weight of your items. Keep in mind that one 5,000 count box isn’t too heavy for a shelf, but 10 can be. Heavy duty shelving is best, maximizing the height of the unit as well. Do not go in to your unit and start drilling holes in the walls for wall shelving. This is considered damage to the facility and is not what you want to do. The shelves you use should be able to hold maximum weight and keep your items off of the floor.

For framed items, lay a blanket down on the ground. Stack the items standing up at an angle against the wall. This keeps the frames from getting scratched and dinged. They might get messed up if they were just lying on the bare floor. Having your items off the floor reduces the chance of pests getting to your items. It also makes it harder for dust to get into the boxes or on your valuables.

Storage Bins or Totes

Using storage bins or storage tote boxes is a great way to store your valuables. These boxes can easily be stacked. They can also fit on your shelves or stack up on each other. You can store anything and everything in them, maximizing the space you have in your storage unit.

Constantly getting into these storage boxes or totes can cause damage to the items you are storing. Be sure to use a marker to catalog the contents of each box. Write on the lid or side of the tote. These types of containers can also hold certain plastic cases that are holding your valuables. They are also a great place to hold the sports card binders to keep them from damage. Items you store in these storage boxes or totes have a better chance of retaining their value.

Plastic Wrapping

There is never a point when you can go overboard with the protection and security of your valuables. One thing that is suggested to use is plastic stretch wrapping.

There are a couple of options for this product. The small handheld wrapping is five inches by 1000 feet. The large stretch wrapping is 20 inches by 1000 feet. These items can wrap around your items, offering even more protection for the sports items you are storing. You can use this wrapping to wrap around each of the sports cards boxes. This will keep the lids from coming off and adds protection to the cards inside.

Wrap a blanket around framed items or memorabilia in cases or bins. Then use stretch wrap as a binder to add a protective layer to the outside of the items. A blanket and plastic stretch wrapping are your best friends when it comes to protection.

All of the Storage West locations offer this plastic stretch wrap in either size, as well as storage blankets. These items are essential to the safety and protection of your sports collection.

Smart Stacking

When storing your sports collectibles take your time and stack the items smartly and correctly. Always have the heavier items at the bottom. Do not over stack your bins or boxes and cause them to buckle. Take your time. Stack and store your items the right way.


No matter what your favorite sport is, the cards and memorabilia you own are valuable to you. They could be even more valuable for the next generation. However, if you are not taking the right precautions these valuables may not make it. Their condition could end up terrible. Put forth the effort to protect your items and store them the right way; and most importantly…… KEEP COLLECTING!!!

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