Before Anthony Ranaudo was an MLB pitcher, he was a kid with a card collection. He remembers spending hours stocking up on everything from baseball to Pokemon cards. The hobby was sidelined at the start of his professional sports career, but resumed amid pandemic boredom.
“When I started doing signings, I saw a different aspect of the hobby,” Ranaudo says. “Now being on the hobby side again, I thought to myself, ‘This could be a better experience for the consumer and the athlete.’”
The problem, Ranaudo says, is that too many professional athletes encounter collectors who care less about meeting their sports heroes and more about reselling autographed items like cards, posters and other memorabilia at a profit.
Ranaudo’s baseball career spanning from 2010 to 2017 took him to signings all across the country while playing for the Red Sox, the Rangers, the White Sox, the Lions and various minor league affiliate teams. It wasn’t uncommon, he says, to meet fans with insincere intentions at any given location.
After experiencing both sides of the frustration, the LSU grad and his co-founder Vittorio Fragale invented a solution: Cards and Culture.
What started as an online store centered around sports cards, memorabilia, streetwear, art and more will celebrate its brick-and-mortar grand opening at its Perkins Rowe location July 10.
The locally created brand aims to strengthen a sense of community within the collectors’ world, and its physical location will feature space where customers can create or consume multimedia content such as gaming and streaming. A Twitch lounge with an Xbox and Playstation allows gamers to upload their footage immediately after playing. There’s also a recording studio Ranaudo uses to create his sports and business podcast, The Up and In Show. It’s plenty of space to host athletes, entertainers and other public figures, bringing people from all around the country to Baton Rouge.
Another goal of Cards and Culture is to serve as an alternative investing platform. By telling a story through his products and hosting community engagement events, Ranaudo hopes young collectors will start to view a sneaker, a baseball card or an art piece as an appreciable asset similarly to how they might view an asset like Bitcoin.
“The best way I would describe it is a community destination for all things collectibles,” Ranaudo says. “We want to create a positive space for shoppers, for influencers, for athletes and entertainers.”
Ranaudo is no stranger to entrepreneurship. His gym, F45 Training City Square Baton Rouge, inspired him to view his card collecting hobby from a business standpoint. He says Perkins Rowe was the perfect location for attracting foot traffic and hosting events.
“I saw the way we were building up a community (within the gym),” Ranaudo says. “I thought it would be fun to do this as a community and tie in LSU sports.”
Pitching for LSU baseball from 2008 to 2010 made Ranaudo a lifelong Tigers fan. The store’s extensive collection of LSU-themed artwork and sports memorabilia displays the passion he has for his alma mater. Visitors can expect some local collegiate athletes to make appearances at Cards and Culture, although Ranaudo is reluctant to reveal names.
“I don’t want to say who yet, but we are hoping to make announcements within the next few weeks,” Ranaudo says.
Cards and Culture’s July 10 grand opening features a silent auction, a VIP cocktail hour, an exhibition of LSU sports memorabilia and a mural release by local artists Jacob Zumo and DLo. The event coincides with the Perkins Rowe “Back to the Rowe” event, so the entire shopping area will be blocked off for food trucks, live music and a makers market.
Shoppers can stop by Cards and Culture starting July 1 for a sneak peak at the new space before the official grand opening.
“I don’t like the term ‘soft opening,’” Ranaudo says. “But the store is opening its doors July 1, for anyone that wants to come by and take a look.”
For updates and more information, visit the Cards and Culture website. The new location is in the Perkins Rowe space next to Peregrin’s Home Store.