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When Giving Up Isn't an Option

Over the years, many people have told Todd Hallada GS’15 that he should throw in the towel—but he didn’t. Today, he co-owns and operates 2Bros Sports Collectibles, a business he’s dreamed of since he was 16.

By Cherie Suonvieri ’15, content specialist

October 29, 2019 | 1:15 p.m.

Bethel alumnus Todd Hallada

Todd Hallada GS’15 puts in well over the standard 40 hours per week, but the business he’s built lets him do what he loves.

It all started in 2004 with $50, three packs of 2004 Topps Heritage baseball cards, and an eBay subscription. Today, 2Bros Sports Collectibles has over 3 million sports cards in inventory, a brick-and-mortar collectibles shop, and six employees to fulfill the thousands of orders that come in each day. Co-owner Todd Hallada GS’15 will be the first to tell you that it didn’t happen overnight. “It’s a long story,” he laughs. 

When Hallada was 16, he started looking for his first job. “Because of my disability, it was difficult to get one,” he says. Hallada, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, applied to be a greeter at local retailers. But as other teenagers around him landed their summer gigs, he was left waiting to hear back on his applications. He started racking his brain for alternative ways to make money.

Hallada had a long-held love for sports collectibles, which he traces back to the day his father gave him a Kevin Garnett rookie card at 9 years old. He decided to look for ways to turn that interest into a business opportunity. After some research, eBay presented itself as a viable option, so Hallada convinced his 18-year-old brother Tom to open an account, where they sold their first three packs of cards for 99 cents apiece. They used the money they earned to buy new packs of cards and then repeated the cycle.

The brothers continued to buy sports cards and sell them from their home, with the help of their mother who assisted with packaging and shipping. By the time Hallada was in college, he was making several hundred dollars a month. He pursued a degree in business, but when he entered the field in 2009, the U.S. was on the tail end of the Great Recession. Again, he had difficulty finding work, so he poured his energy back into the sports card business.

Sales were growing steadily by 2010, when Land O’Lakes offered Hallada a job. Around the same time, his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She encouraged him to stick with the sports card business because she saw his potential, but job stability and a consistent paycheck were appealing. Hallada decided to shut down the eBay store and enter the corporate world.

“You may be able to function in life without a degree, but the process of education takes you to a higher level of development that you might not otherwise reach without those experiences.”

— Todd Hallada

Hallada’s mother died later that year, but he never stopped thinking about how much she had believed in his dream. He pursued his MBA at Bethel, working full time while attending class at night. “I always said I wanted to be the Walmart of sports cards,” he says. “There aren’t many business professionals in the market, so it’s ripe for opportunity. I just kept thinking, ‘Boy, I really wish I could give this another shot.’” 

And in 2015, he did. Hallada completed his MBA, quit his full-time job, and made things official. The Hallada brothers named their business 2Bros Sports Collectibles. “I was careful not to say ‘sports cards’ in the name because I wanted it to encompass everything collectible,” he says. “My ultimate dream is to be the number one sports collectible company in the world.” 

The eBay-based store gained traction, and while they encountered bumps along the way, they saw exponential growth. Their house filled up, the living room and dining room lined with racks of cards. Then, in 2017, 2Bros Sports Collectibles moved from the Hallada household to Northtown Mall in Blaine, Minnesota, where they have both a storefront and a warehouse.
2Bros Sports Collectibles

The walls of 2Bros Sports Collectibles at Northtown Mall are lined with sports collectibles, from cards to jerseys to autographed photos.

To date, 2Bros Sports Collectibles’ online transactions still make up about 90% of the company’s sales. This summer, the Hallada brothers were recognized as one of eight winners of the eBay Shine Awards for Small Business. But Hallada is quick to clarify that they still have a long way to go. He describes the company as a fifth year start up.

“I love owning my own business and doing this every day, but there are real sacrifices,” he says. “A lot of people look at us now and think we’re successful, but what they don’t see is when it’s 3 a.m. on a Friday night and I’m still working.” 

For Hallada, success means progressive movement toward a worthwhile goal. “If you define success in that way, Tom and I are just starting to become successful because we are making progress toward a goal, really the goal I set back when I was 16,” he says.

Hallada still works 80-100 hours a week, filling his days with business management tasks and his evenings with sports inventory work. He says one of the main things that keeps him going is the conviction that he cannot fail. “When my mother passed away, it left a void in our lives in so many more ways than normal. Beyond the emotional effects of losing a parent, we also lost the physical help. She was the main caretaker for my brother and me,” he says.

Currently, 2Bros Sports Collectibles employs both Hallada brothers and their father Tim, as well. “I have to provide for my dad, brother, and myself, and that type of responsibility gives you that mindset that you cannot fail,” Hallada says. “That allows you to push yourself so much further.”

“There were many people who looked me in the face and said, ‘This cannot work. You have to stop.’ But I kept saying that I would figure it out, and it’s amazing when you have that mindset, just how much you can figure out.”

— Todd Hallada

In 2019, 2Bros Sports Collectibles is seeing continued growth online, and they’re exploring ways to expand their retail as well. They’ve scheduled an increasing number of private signings with hometown heroes like Zach Parise and Adam Thielen, with hopes of hosting public signings in the future. In addition to their store at Northtown Mall, they can be found at kiosk on the first level of Mall of America.

The 2Bros Sports Collectibles slogan, ‘Collect who inspires you,’ is found in many places throughout the store and website. “It really gets at the root of why we collect and why we have a passion for sports and people who play them,” Hallada says. “I’m a believer that we either consciously or subconsciously identify character traits in the people we want to embody within ourselves, and therefore, we have respect for that person.” 

Hallada reflects on the 2017 Super Bowl, when the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons, after they were down 21-3 at halftime. “Everyone was saying, ‘This is over.’ But what does Tom Brady do? He brings them right back for the win. Tom Brady was a sixth-round draft pick from 2000, but he’s brought himself up from nothing.”

Similarly, when Hallada looks back over the years, he’s proud of how 2Bros Sports Collectibles has risen. “We started with so little, and we’ve gone through a lot,” he says. “There have been so many times where we could have, and maybe should have, thrown in the towel. The thing that I’m most proud of is that I don’t quit, keep pushing, and try to use the gifts that God has given me to the best of my ability every single day.”

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