Twenty years ago, Cosmo Cassetta retired from the city Parks Department. Now the owner of Cosmo’s Cards & Collectables is thinking about retirement again.
The store at 1420 Williamsbridge Road has been selling comics and trading cards to kids in Westchester Square since 1990.
“I can’t believe it. Twenty years is hard to imagine,” he said. “I’m not closing yet, but it’s on the horizon.”
According to Cassetta, the store began more or less as a whim, not something he expected to be doing as he reached his mid-seventies.
Since then,he and his wife Mary,have managed the store, selling everything from baseball cards and comics, to T-shirts and action-figures.
When the store opened on November 9, 1990, it sold only baseball cards.
A baseball fan, Cassetta always had an interest in sports cards, but rarely collected them.
“If it wasn’t a Yankee, we threw the card away,” he said about collecting cards with friends.
One piece of memorabilia he has held on to is a roughly 100-year-old baseball bat that was used by a major league Hall of Famer.
Typically thought of as a niche industry, comic books in the early 1990s was a booming, half-billion dollar-a-year industry. For more than a decade though, the demand has fallen, and so has the public’s willingness to shell out cash for comics during a recession.
Today the shop is one of the few remaining comic book stores in the Bronx. Because of the changes in the business many were forced to close their doors years ago, Cassetta said.
The online trading world, with popular sites like eBay and Craigslist, has also hurt the collectible market.
“It was good business though,” he said. “I met a lot of nice people.”
Dozens of loyal customers come to Cosmos every Wednesday, which is when the new issues of best-selling comics like X-Men, Spiderman and Wolverine hit the shelves.
“He has the best assortment in the Bronx, that’s for sure,” said Miguel Baez, a U.S. Postal Service worker who travels from Castle Hill every week for the past two years to pick up the new comics. “I’ll be hurting if he closes. I might start to cry.”
The toughest part of closing would be leaving the customers he has grown to know well, he said.
“I watched kids come here with their fathers and now they’re bringing their kids in,” he said.
After closing up shop, Cassetta hopes to travel with his wife Mary.
“I’m getting older, so now we’re going to be able to do a lot of the things we couldn’t do when the store was open,” he said.