A man of memorabilia: meet the founder of Aspen’s ‘autograph source’
October 31, 2015
The Autograph Source founder Rick Schultz says he treats his shop's memorabilia like they are his foster children.
When Schultz acquires a special piece, he is conscientious in selecting the rightful owner or finding the right home, he said.
And like any good parent, Schultz isn't hesitant to check up on his babies.
"There's usually some level of follow-up between the new owners and myself," he said. "Whether they come back to the store or I see their collection again."
In Schultz's two decades spent collecting, he's acquired nearly 10,000 truly exclusive pieces.
From old Hollywood, sports, and rock 'n' roll memorabilia to rare historic documents, The Autograph Source on Cooper Avenue displays a mere fraction of this collection.
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While the store's impressive collection of shiny, signed guitars, tattered contracts and colorful vintage posters could lead visitors to think otherwise, the vast majority of its inventory is tucked away in a warehouse (minus the few hundred Schultz keeps at home, which he joked has lessened since marrying his wife, Tricia, in 2000).
Schultz says the memorabilia business is about as rare and unique as the items themselves.
He estimated there are a mere 20 to 30 dealers in the world who collect and sell historic documents.
And for rock 'n' roll, it's even less.
"There are really only a couple of us." Schultz said. "It is super rare to get this stuff, and demand is typically greater than supply." Old Hollywood memorabilia is "a whole different beast," Schultz said, and there are thousands in the sports-collection business.
While Schultz shares a passion for history and is an avid rock 'n' roll and sports fan, he said he fell into memorabilia collecting out of the blue.
Schultz, who was born in Colorado but lived between California and Boston as a child, said he always planned to return to Colorado as soon as he could.
After graduating from Ithaca College, Schultz and his close friend and college roommate, Raifie Bass, did just that.
The two arrived to Aspen in November 1991, and shortly after, Schultz started working at Aspen Velo bike shop.
When plans to open a snowboard shop with Bass went awry, Schultz received an intriguing offer from one of his clients at the bike shop named Mark Friedland.
At the time, Friedland was running a memorabilia store named Stars, which he opened in town in 1989, Schultz said.
Friedland told Schultz the store was more than he could handle, and proposed Schultz help him with Stars.
With nothing to lose, Schultz agreed.
"I figured I'd give it a shot, and it ended up just really clicking for me," Schultz said.
Though the two parted ways in 2003 after seven successful years in business, Schultz was only getting started.
The following year, Schultz opened The Autograph Source in downtown Aspen.
And the rest, as they say, is history.