Growing up Dean and Marilyn Bapes were sports card enthusiasts. They were collectors and would frequently attend card shows. They’ve been married 26 years and opened their first store called Dean’s Dugout in Aurora in 1991 before moving it to Naperville five years later.
As a young child, Dan Dierdorff was the first customer in line 14 years ago. Now a senior at North Central College, he is still one of the store’s biggest fans.
“I thought it was a miniature golf course because of the green carpet, but then I saw it was a card shop and I got addicted,” said Dierdorff.
It’s not necessarily the packs or the autographed jerseys that keep customers coming back, but rather the friendship.
“We just really ended up liking Dean and Marilyn,” said friend Kevin Wixted. “They’re infectious people. They’re very nice, very generous, and they’re just so nice to my kids.”
Seeing old friends come through the doors is the biggest payoff for the Bapes.
“When they pop in and say “hi,” that is our happiness,” said Dean Bapes.
Over the years, Dean’s has gotten more involved with the community by providing programs for scouts and rewarding students for good report cards.
“If you can’t turn around and give back to the community, you might as well close your doors,” said Marilyn Bapes. “You have to give back to the community.”
Along with his card collection, Dean is an accomplished musician and photographer. His photo of Andre Dawson made the cover of Card News in 1992. It’s one of many pieces of memorabilia that makes Dean’s Dugout feel like home.
“When I walk into another card store, it just doesn’t feel comfortable at all,” said card collector Ben Winterrowd. “I come back here and it’s the same smell as it was 15 years ago.”
The shop has meant a lot to Naperville Central senior Mike Riordan.
“If I had a memory from my childhood, it would be coming to Dean’s Dugout all the time with my mom and friends,” said Riordan. Every time the Bapes step foot into their store, it feels like the first day they opened.
“It was a big part of our childhood, and I hope we never lose that,” said Dean Bapes.
Coming up on July 19th, Chicago Bears quarterback Dan LeFevour will be in the store signing autographs.
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