About Us & Our History

TJ Collectibles is a full service collectible retailer and gaming store specializing in comic books, trade paperbacks and various trading-card games & collectible-card games, specifically Magic: the Gathering and Pokemon. We have been in business for over 20 years providing a welcome place to play and excellent service. We are also host to the largest and best run gaming events in New England for both Magic: the Gathering and Pokemon!

We offer a full in-store comic book subscription program, with various discount options available. We provide the comic customer with the best service available anywhere. Our manager Dave Reid has an incredible love and knowledge of comics since he is not only our Store manager but also an avid collector. In addition, we also bag and board your comic books for free!

Aside from being a full service trading-card and collectible-card game retailer with more than 80% of all Magic cards in stock, we also carry an extensive inventory of board games, Wizards of the Coast Miniature's products and a full line of role-playing source books and supplies, specializing in Dungeons & Dragons.

Our goal is to provide reliable, honest, friendly and fast customer service. Our goal is to answer all e-mail questions within one (1) business day. If you have any concerns for any reason, we will work with you to resolve it – FAST. If there is something you are looking for, no matter what it is, we will try to track it down for you.

In terms of our event services, our philosophy is "Fast, Fun, and Friendly." We aim to provide reliable, fast, fun events at which everyone can have a great time and enjoy themselves with friends, all with outstanding prize support: prizes to the top 3rd! We also have one of the best – if not THE best - staff of friendly administrators and judges that are always happy to help and ensure a smooth, fun and fair event for all.

TJ Collectibles History

Part 1: The Early Years (1992 to March 1997)

Tom and Judy Shea founded TJ Collectibles on April 1st 1992. Our first location was at 227 Main Street, Milford, MA. It had a total of 630 square feet. We started out as a baseball card store. We opened with 17 kinds of sport card packs, a few price guides, and Tom's quality sport card collection from the 70's. We added Judy's brother Bill's comics to our mix a few months later. Soon we found ourselves selling new comic issues. Our first mascot Charlie the wonder dog was literally dropped off at our front door. He quickly became my second best friend.

Spawn was born, Superman died and Batman had his back broken. Ken Griffey Jr, Larry Bird, Ray Bourque and some guy name Jordan were the hot sellers of the day. We used to do lots of comic shows. That is where I met many friends that included Larry Doherty (Larry's Comics), Jim from Bop City Comics, Neil from Webhead comics, and Shawn Reigner (aka Hammer) from Hammers comics. We used to buy many things from a store in Hudson MA called SNK. SNK was the first big magic store in New England. Hammer told me about a tournament that he won $17,000 for playing magic cards. I had never heard of the magic pro tour before.

We started to sell many of these magic cards. We had trouble getting them on a consistent basis. The first booster box of packs we had in stock was a set named Legends. Then came the dark. We carried revised on a regular basis. We sold many a power nine cards in these days. Nichol Bolas the legendary dragon out of legends used to sell for $50.00. These were crazy days for us. We were on a network called sportsnet and through it made many contacts that we still have today. We used to buy sports cards, gaming card, single cards and comics from The Edgeman, The Gathering Ground, AC Comics, Bullseye Comics, Berks Cards, Dave and Adams, and many that we still do today. We bought cards where ever we could.

After a conversation with one of my sales reps from Alliance Games I knew that we needed to get into this tournament running thing. For that we needed more space. We currently had 630 square feet which just wasn't enough to do a whole lot. These were the early days of TJ Collectibles. We were a small insignificant store that nobody thought would be around in a year or two. We were the 5th store selling sports cards in Milford. We were the 3rd store-selling comics. We embraced the products that our customers wanted. Valiant comics, Image comics, and Magic cards, we used to play magic with our friends on our display cases from behind the counters. We knew that we needed a larger location.

Part 2: Here we grow! (April 1997 - April 2004)

In March of 1997 we moved to our current location at 160 Main Street. We didn’t have a gaming area. Slowly over the next 6 months Tom and customers worked on Saturdays to clean out the basement. We added walls and new lighting. Before the gaming room was ready we started playing magic with whoever wanted to play (fall of 1997) Our first night saw Tom and Judy playing with a couple of youngsters. We ordered pizza as Tom had yet to have dinner.

Our Friday night game grew to 16 before we knew it. One of our early rules was that Preston must die before anyone else. The joys of multi player magic! Soon people were buying slices of pizza from Tom, as they were hungry too! Eventually we knew that we needed to learn more about tournaments.  So in the spring of 1998 Tom contacted some guy name Rob Dougherty who was the big tourney guy for the New England magic scene. I went to the regional championship that year. The tournament drew far more people than expected. It started 3 hours late. They ended up finishing the finals at a store called Your Move Games located in Sommerville, MA.

Soon after regional's Mark White came to TJ’s to play in a Saturday tourney we ran. He won easily. We had 35 players. Soon several of his friends came to play. Bill Jensen was one of him. Both Mark and Bill would go on to play on the Magic Pro Tour. Bill would win a team pro tour fittingly in Boston. Yes I was there to see him win. We brought out Randy Buehler to do a seminar on playing, and drafting magic. I brought in Randy so that I could study the magic world from a pro tour player’s perspective. Randy had been named rookie of the year on the pro tour the previous year.

The great Your Move Games/TJ Collectibles rivalry was born. If Your Move Games were like the Steeler teams of the 70’s TJ Collectibles was like the Oakland Raider teams of that same era.. From 1999 to 2004 TJ Collectibles had 17 players qualify for the pro tour. One pro tour winner (Bill Jensen), One JSS National Champ (Jeff Garza) and had a pro tour where two TJ Players made top 8 (PT London 1999, Bill Jensen, Mike Bregoli). Soon we became just like those Raider teams as many people loved to hate us.

During this time we got into tournament organizing. Our early success with the Junior Super Series led us to try the TJ Super Summer Series. This was a series of 4 tournaments that each gave away $500.00 that led to a final event based on combined finishes of the first three. The final event was FREE. The final 8 at the summer series was a high quality field that included: Rob Dougherty, Darwin Kastle, Dave Humpries, William Jensen, Mike Bregoli, Tom Guevin, Preston Garcia and Chris Fisher. This event while successful in many ways wasn't satisfying. It felt like something was missing.

In 2000 a new collectible card game came out. Pokemon. We couldn't get enough to keep up with the demand. Our Pokemon tournaments were off the hook with 40 to 50 players playing each week. While other tournament organizers were not interested in Pokemon we loved it. Since the beginning TJ's has been the New England home of Pokemon. We have run every meaningful Pokemon tournament! Many of our magic players came from Pokemon. Soon the craze died but we still trying to catch them all! We never stopped running  Pokemon league.

In 2000 Your Move Games and Neutral Ground ran their first Grudge Match. This was a series of tournaments that led to a Your Move Player facing off against a Neutral Ground Player. The TJ Crew wanted in . We asked and were denied. This action had to lead to something. That something came in 2001. It was called the New England Challenge. This tournament grew out of stores that helped me during the first Grand Prix that I co ran with Rob Dougherty. Eight Stores, ran qualifiers that led to a free final with prize money on the line. The eventual winner was Tom Guevin.

The New England Challenge grew to the Northeast Challenge with the addition of Neutral Ground and Your Move Games. At the height of it the North American Challenge had over 24 stores involved in 14 states.  The players of the north east loved the NAC. Stores involved in the NAC reported sales bumps and gained higher visibility in the magic community. This growth helped fuel the size of  the Boston Pre Release.

There were other developments as well during this time : in the summer of 2002 Casual magic was born. We  wanted to numb down the incredible competitiveness at TJ’s. People needed to have more fun. When casual got going the competitive guys were not allowed to play in it. Everyone got a prize, everyone had fun. That was the TJ way! A typical casual tourney at TJ's would bring in 45 to 60 players. Around this time we also began to run Hero Clix tournaments, a miniatures game based off of

During this time Bill Jensen, Mike Bregoli, and Brian Lynch were pro tour regulars. Thirteen other TJ players qualified for the pro tour from 2000 to 2004. Bill Jensen won a pro tour with his friends Matt Lindy and Brock Parker. It happened at PT Boston in 2003. Bill's team was called the Brockafellers. They faced off against the top team of the day the Phoenix Foundation which featured the top player of the day Kai Budde. Bill showed his metal during this event. In the finals there was team draft which Bill ran for his team. In the end he proved what a tremendous player he was. In my opinion Bill is the best drafter in the history of magic. 

We started taking events to CT during the 2001 time frame. I was running some JSS and GP trials at Dragon's Lair(West Hartford, CT) and Card Empire(Torrington, CT). Both Vince Sense and Howie Hauklin were incredibly supportive as we tried to bring premier tournaments to CT. During these days stores didn't seem to want to cooperate and build community. It was a hard time. TJ's brick and mortar retail store suffered as Tom spent lots of  time building its premier event base.

We have run Grand Prixs with Rob Dougherty during 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007. The first two were run at the Boston Park Plaza Castle. The third one at Bayside Expo center and our last one in Fitchburg at the Best Western Conference Center. Players were generally pleased with the first 3 venues. The last one was very difficult for Rob and I as there simply weren't any venues interested in us that could fit our budget. When booking event space venues look for big hotel room blocks and big dollars spent on food and beverage. Magic players simply don't spend lots of cash on food. It makes it more difficult to book these places. At the end of GP Boston 2001 Dawn Carlson came to work for us. Dawn became our web person.

In 2004 Pokemon changed companies as Pokemon USA was born. We were involved again from the beginning. By the end of 2004 we were running 3 pre releases and helping with 2 other leagues. Our Rhode Island league was at Disposable Heroes, and has been run since day one by Brian Jessing. Our CT league was at Dragon's Lair in West Hartford. We kept running Pokemon events. Our numbers were small. Many of the larger tournament organizers couldn't be bothered by Pokemon.

The end of the "golden age of competitive magic at TJ's was in 2003/2004. This was a bitter  sweet year for me. Jeff Garza was a magic player who moved from New Jersey to our area to play with the competitive players from TJ's. This is the year that Bill Jensen moved away. So I spent many a Friday night berating Jeff. The rest of the TJ Crew left took great joy in trash talking this 15 year old talented player. In 2004 Jeff reached his pinnacle in magic by winning the JSS National Championship and GP New Jersey. Jeff beat out over 900 players winning the GP. This was also the year that I lost my beloved dog Charlie. TJ's was without its mascot.  I had lost my second best friend in the world.

One of the highlights during this period was our North American Challenge. This event became the model that has been further developed by several larger online companies. Here is a link to the event coverage from Wizards of the Coast back in 2004. In the photo is a young Paul Rietzl accepting the winner's check. 

http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Events.aspx?x=mtgevent/nac04/history 

Part 3: Our Mission Changes

There is a saying that as one door opens another closes. That is so true. July 1st 2004 brought TJ's its new mascot Giselle, an 8 week old German Shepherd puppy. Then in the fall of 2004 we ran our first Magic Pre Release: Champions of  Kamigawa.  We got destroyed by the weather but we were now in the game. Hartford, CT was the 37th largest market out of 45 but hey now we were in the game. This timeframe was about to bring many big changes for TJ 's

By the spring of 2005 it became apparent that TJ's the store couldn't continue the way that it was being run as it was neglected with Tom trying to be a full time organizer as well as a full time store manager. Dave Reid came to work for us as our full time manager. Things were starting to move along now. It was now the time to move Pokemon full speed ahead. We went to work increasing the event schedule. We would take Pokemon events to any store that we could get which was hard believe it or not.

By the beginning of 2006 the Hartford Pre release was growing steadily and our Pokemon locations had grown to 8 for cities, and 4 for pre releases.  We started to get quality locations that cared about Pokemon by 2007. With the support of the players and Pokemon USA we grew to 3 leagues, 8 cities, and 6 pre releases. 2008 was a banner year for Pokemon in New England. Our leagues were now helping Pokemon grow in popularity with no end in sight.

Now we are charged with being the best at everything we do.  Tom focuses on events, and overall company management. Dave is focused on making TJ's the best comic/gaming store on the planet. We have added a few to our ranks as well. Jim Haines came to TJ's this past year as our ebay coordinator. Late in 2008 an old friend Chris Alexander came back to work for us in the capacity of online manager. Chris's job is to help take TJ's to the top of the online world.

The final piece of the puzzle came together this past October as we hired a professional web development company. Palm Tree Creative is their name. These guys are far from the normal web company as they are awesome. Our new web site is a testament to their professionalism and talent. Now we are ready to be first rate! Please drop me a line to let me know how we are doing. It doesn't matter whether you shop our online store, visit our brick and mortar store or attend one of our many events, I enjoy hearing from you our customer. You are the reason why we do what we do.