Looking for an autographed Soo Greyhound or NHL star jersey?
Or an autographed photo from Hollywood or music industry celebs?
Chances are very good you’ll be able to purchase one from Mark Fera, owner/manager of Mark’s Autographs and Collectables at Market Mall.
Mark’s store is a true treasure trove for those fascinated by autographed sports and entertainment collectables, stocked from front to back, side to side, top to bottom with such items.
“All of this,” Mark said, speaking to SooToday and pointing to the merchandise in his store, “believe it or not, was in my house. My wife said ‘you’re taking over the house, time to move some of this stuff'.”
Mark worked in retail for several years, and is also a professionally-trained chef, having worked for several restaurants at Sault hotels.
Mark launched his business at Market Mall in November 2016.
“People used to come to me all the time, because I’ve been doing this for over 35 years, to find things they were looking for, and I had a lot of connections so they could get the things they wanted, and I got tired of working for somebody else so I opened the store,” Mark said.
“There’s no place like this in Sault Ste. Marie, which sells certified, autographed hockey jerseys and Hollywood and music industry photographs,” Mark stated.
“I’ve been doing this as a hobby since I was a kid. I used to get off from school every day and go around to playgrounds, find pop bottles, bring them back to the corner store and bought hockey cards.”
Mark, a Sault Ste. Marie native, lived in Toronto for a while, then North Bay, where he met his wife Sylvia (who now owns and operates Cups and Cones, an eatery which opened June 1 in Market Mall), the couple then settling down in the Sault to raise a family.
So how’s business for Mark?
“Really, really good, but a lot of people still don’t realize we’re here in the Market Mall. A lot of people in the east end don’t know. There’s a lot of people that do know we’re here because I’m on Facebook and a lot of other online things, so the younger people know about me. But business is still very good because of what I bring to the Sault. There’s a big, big demand for sports collectables. The Sault’s very sports-related, it’s a big hockey town, so there’s a big need for what I do."
Mark sells hockey cards, autographed hockey jerseys, banners and other sports memorabilia from the Soo Greyhounds and the NHL, as well as autographed photographs from Hollywood and the music industry.
“All the autographed photos are the real thing. Each of them comes with a certificate of authenticity or a seal on it,” Mark said, pointing to an autographed Nicole Kidman photograph as an example.
“I have a friend who works for Universal Studios in California, and he has access to a lot of these celebrities, so he gets them for me. As well, I’ve gone to a lot of shows for myself and met people. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in New York and Toronto, so there’s a lot of access to these types of photographs when I need them. If people come here, they say ‘I need such and such, can you get it?’ and if I don’t have it, I can go online, communicate with the people I know and get what they want. So far, every single person who has come in here, I’ve provided them with what they wanted.”
As far as hockey goes, Mark has autographed jerseys from modern-day NHL pros such as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews as well as legends from yesteryear such as Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull.
“You get the real McCoy here,” said Mark, who has personally met entertainment legends such as Kenny Rogers, Meat Loaf and Gene Simmons of Kiss.
“It was nice to meet Wayne Gretzky when he played for the Greyhounds,” Mark recalled.
“He hasn’t changed. The fame doesn’t seem to have changed him. He’s still the same person from when he played for the Soo Greyhounds.”
“This is my passion,” Mark said.
“I love sports. I love hockey. It’s interesting for me to share what I’ve accumulated over the years with people, to see the amazement from a lot of people, from some of the seniors who come in here, to see them look at reliving some of their own history by looking at some of the older hockey jerseys on the wall.”
“It’s like having my own hockey hall of fame.”
“To me, it’s not a job, it’s enjoyment,” Mark smiled.
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