Toy story, Chico-style

Chuck Shelton

Photo By vic cantu

Collecting vintage pop-culture memorabilia, especially on eBay, is a passion and even a profitable hobby for many. Last July, Chuck Shelton opened a store in Chico that sells these items in person: Nor Cal Collectables. The store, which is chock full of antique toys, coins, video games and sports cards, is run primarily by Chico-born Shelton, 39, with help from his wife, Kristen, and his partner, Aric Erickson. “This is the place where you can buy back your childhood memories,” says Shelton. Nor Cal Collectables, which also sells on eBay, is located at 313 Walnut St. #125. Log onto or call 894-3631 for more info.

What inspired you to open your store?

I’d been a collector since I was a kid and eventually saw there was real money in it. Then my wife, Kristen, got the bug through me. Now that I have this store I can’t wait to come to work each day, and it’s a source of bonding for me and my son.

What’s the most valuable item you have for sale?

We have a few, such as a 1969 Hot Wheels pink Ferrari worth $500. We also have what’s known as the Holy Grail of Star Wars posters, titled “Revenge of the Jedi,” worth anywhere from $500-$1,000. It was the original title for the movie Return of the Jedi, which was changed two months after the original posters were printed. But we also have tons of items well under $10. We specialize in Hot Wheels, which I’ve collected for 16 years.

Why would someone buy collectables from your store instead of eBay?

For one, our items are priced the same as eBay, but you don’t have to pay the shipping charges or wait for them to come in the mail. You can also come in to touch and see the item to get far better detail than you can on eBay. Plus, all our prices are negotiable, and the more items you buy, the better deal you’re likely to get. People come from as far away as Sacramento and San Jose because there are no stores like this in their cities.

What do friends and family think about your shop?

Most think it’s awesome, especially since they see it’s valuable. Collectables hold their value, even in a recession. A couple of years ago some U.S. collector sold a super rare Hot Wheels car for $287,000.

Where do you get your merchandise?

I’m always getting new items because every weekend I go to flea markets, garage sales, toy shows and card shows all over California. I often buy huge collections and can sell them individually for cheaper than when they were new on store shelves.

Are you planning any special events?

We’re trying to get [Aaron Rodgers] to do an autograph session here as a charity for the Boys and Girls Club.