Five years ago, 58-year-old Chuck Massingill took a big gamble and left his longtime job as a baker to pursue his dream of running his own sports memorabilia shop. Today, he is the proud owner of Sports Harvest Inc. in Portage Park.
Question: Why did you get out of the food industry and risk opening up your own store?
Answer: I have always had a passion for sports and wanted to get involved in the industry in some manner. God gave us gifts that are meant to be used. I don’t think you should try and be something you’re not. Just be what you are and God will bless you. How are you going to ask a shoe to be a sock or a shirt? The shoe was made to be a shoe. Whatever way you are made, you have to be what you are – be the best shoe you can be.
Q: I’ve noticed you sell a lot more sports figures than cards. What is your reasoning behind that?
A: When you watch players on TV, the first thing you want is what? You want to collect that player. With these McFarlane figures, people can have a player that is in a physical form and display it. Cards, you just put in boxes and binders and you forget where they go. You never really enjoy your product.
Q: How many McFarlane figures are in your store right now?
A: Oh gosh. It would scare me to tell you how many I have. But when you are starting up a business, you are going to put in more than you are going to take out. If you don’t have a new product all the time, then people will stop coming in because you become a “one-soup Charlie.”
Q: What is your most popular item?
A: Chicago-based players are the number-one seller all the time. Being a Bears fan, I hate to say this, but I sell a lot of Green Bay Packers stuff too. You have no idea how many customers in this area are Packers fans.
Q: Are you happy with your business’ performance since you opened?
A: I haven’t made a profit yet in five years, but it’s coming. I think this next coming year will be my first profitable one. I can project numbers all I want, but to be very honest with you, my belief system tells me that my God will take care of me. I just have to do my part and God will do his.
Q: Any plans for expansion?
A: I’m not into everything that’s going on in society. I don’t believe in cell phones, texting or any of those distractions. But when you see how people buy things and the channels they use, you just have to connect to that because I can’t change what they are doing. So you either have to join them or be left behind. So my plan is to get on the Internet so that I have another outlet to sell out of.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being your own boss?
A: I like interacting with people. Everyone is attracted to nice people, but I don’t think we live in a society anymore where people feel comfortable being nice to each other. For me, I don’t see any other option. When you are in business, you want to treat people with respect because without people you have no business.
Q: Do you feel like you have developed a bond with the Portage Park community?
A: You know the one thing I do for all my customers? I pray for them. I pray for their jobs, I pray for their families, I pray for their well-being because without them I don’t have a business. My business is not just a place where you can buy sports figures, but I’m also a person who cares about them.