Belle Vernon collectibles business gets ‘Remixxd’ as it expands – TribLIVE

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People will collect just about anything.

Just ask Don Spagnolo, owner of an an online collectibles marketplace based in Belle Vernon.

Last year, he bought fixtures from a bar that was going out of business, and the beer tap handles turned into a surprisingly hot seller.

“They’ve been in such demand, I’m trying to get more,” he said.

Spagnolo also deals in the usual pop culture items like trading cards, comic books, action figures, autographs and signed items, posters, magazines, lunch boxes, vinyl records and more.

Business is booming, to the extent that he’s recently re-branded and moved his ever-growing inventory to a larger space.

The former Steel City Collectibles has been modernized to Remixxd by Steel City Collectibles and moved to a new business park at 236 Finley Road, formerly home to a Fox Grocery Co. warehouse.

Spagnolo is planning a grand opening of the new space within a few weeks, which afterward will be open by appointment only. Details will be announced on the website and Facebook when finalized.

The Monessen resident, 44, says he’s fortunate to have turned a childhood hobby into the only job he’s ever had.

“I was always interested in collecting,” he said, but his mother was responsible for his first significant pieces of memorabilia — letters and an autographed photo of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.

“I was 6 years old and I was a big Stan Lee fan,” Spagnolo said. “He was coming to a comics convention in Pittsburgh and I wanted to go, but I got tonsillitis.”

His mother reached out to Lee, who responded with the items that now hang framed on his office wall.

“When you have an experience like that as a kid, it travels with you through the rest of your life,” he said.

Full circle

Spagnolo exhibited his entrepreneurial spirit at age 14, convincing his father to let him sell baseball cards at the family-owned Giant Eagle — which is just down the street from the new Remixxd headquarters.

“Everything’s come full circle for me,” he said. “I’ve had all these ups and downs, moved to different locations a couple times, we’ve grown; and where are we after all this time? We’re 30 seconds away from where I started.”

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Shirley McMarlin | Tribune-Review

Owner Don Spagnolo amid memorabilia for sale from Remixxd by Steel City Galleries in Belle Vernon.

His father’s first reaction was, “This is a Giant Eagle; we don’t sell baseball cards.” Then he relented, and Spagnolo began selling cards and comic books in the store’s video corner in 1991.

He kept it up all through high school and four years at Washington & Jefferson College, adding online sales as the internet developed.

By the time he graduated from college, baseball cards had replaced videos in the store.

When his family sold the store back to corporate in 2001, Spagnolo incorporated his business and worked out of his house in Canonsburg.

“It’s been full time since then,” he said. “The next couple years after that was a rocky transition. The baseball card market was not what it was when I started. I had to really adapt to survive. It’s different being on your own than working through your parents.”

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Shirley McMarlin | Tribune-Review

A special edition box of Wheaties featuring Pittsburgh Penguins greats Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux.

Spagnolo began selling autographs and gradually added other items, moving the business out of his home into larger and larger spaces.

He now has four part-time employees and inventory approaching 100,000 items.

In addition to selling through his website, he sells through Amazon, eBay, fanatics.com, hipcomic.com and bonanza.com.

Celebrity, character, corporate

“We took (autographs) as far as we could,” he said. “Then we could see that, if we want to keep growing, we needed to get into other stuff. We started getting into vintage.”

What he sells now, he said, “has to fall into three categories — if it has a celebrity on it, a character on it, or a corporate logo. People collect all that stuff.

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Shirley McMarlin | Tribune-Review

Don Spagnolo, owner of Remixxd by Steel City Galleries, holds a Marilyn Monroe print signed by artist Andy Warhol.

“If it’s a mug with Spiderman on it, somebody will collect it; if it has just a generic design, we wouldn’t be interested in it,” he said. “I recently paid a guy $750 for a pile of HBO magazines from the ‘80’s. Those are things that 99% of people threw away. This guy happened to save them, because he was into movies.

“When you put this stuff up for sale, people lose their minds — like, how do you have this? It’s valuable because the supply is low. There’s value in it, because nobody saved it.”

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Shirley McMarlin | Tribune-Review

A 1977 Mego Spiderman action figure in the original box, available for $200 from Remixxd by Steel City Galleries.

There’s been renewed interest in trading cards during the pandemic, and comic books have remained popular.

“We sell a lot of Jurassic Park stuff, Star Wars is always popular, and of course Marvel,” Spagnolo said. “People like the dinosaur stuff, I guess. That has surprised me, but that stuff does really well.”

Vintage “Life” magazines also have been a surprisingly popular item, he added.

The highest price tags go on autographs. Spagnolo has sold the signatures of historical figures like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., but people also go for those of pop stars like Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber.

“We sell pieces in the thousands, up to $4,000 or $5,000; we don’t really get into the 10 thousands,” he said.

Pricing merchandise is an inexact science.

“Some items, you can look at it and say this is what it’s worth. With some of this odd stuff we get, you really have to do some homework,” he said. “For that reason, we’ll take offers on some things. You look at what similar things go for and you can figure something out.”

If all else fails, he puts it up for auction.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .