NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It was a heartbreaking return to work for one Music City businessman. His beloved collectible card shop in South Nashville caught fire, leaving almost everything inside destroyed.

A devastating phone call is how John Dunphy learned his business, Cards-R-Fun on Old Hickory Boulevard, the oldest card shop in the Nashville area, was on fire.

“I got a call at 8 o’clock this morning from the fire marshal to tell me that my business had a fire,” said Dunphy.

An owner of a fitness center next door pulled up at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday for work when he saw heavy smoke coming from Cards-R-Fun.

“It was devastating to me at first, and very difficult because I’ve been doing it for so long, 40-plus years, that I didn’t know what to do. I was overwhelmed by the damage that had happened,” Dunphy said.

Shock took over when Dunphy walked into the store to find almost all of the collectibles heavily damaged.

“I saw nothing but glass, water, and merchandise all over the floor. Signed sports jerseys, 8×10 autographs, and ’50s and ’60s signed cards have all been destroyed. I don’t want to look much right now. It’s too overwhelming to see,” Dunphy said.

As News 2 walked through the shop, what used to be a thriving local favorite is now a big pile of collectibles and merchandise laying on the ground, ruined by smoke and water.

“They found two wires that had been burnt and the covering of the wires were taken off. The cash register was melted. This store has been my livelihood for 40 years and it’s been a lot of good,” Dunphy said.

While the card shop is not a total loss, smoke damage affected more than half of the collectibles inside.

“You wouldn’t think that this little store could have flames that big, but they were that big, and they did a lot of damage,” Dunphy said.

On top of that, the shop has had many break-ins over the years, so Dunphy wasn’t able to get insurance, making it even tougher for him to try to rebuild the place from scratch.

“It’s about possibly ending it. I’m not sure, we’ll see what happens,” Dunphy said.

“That even makes it tougher on him, us as his friends, and as a fellow collector. This has kind of become a tradition to bring your kids and spend an hour. It’s not something that you can easily replace overnight,” Bill Wainwright, a store volunteer said. “I think the vibes, aura, and feel of Cards-R-Fun are not something that can be replaced right away. That’s what made the place special, it wasn’t like any other card shop in the area.”

However, Dunphy doesn’t plan on giving up just yet. His hope is to have Cards-R-Fun back up and running again sometime in the near future.

“I wasn’t ready to leave. People say I’m going to die in there, I’m not sure about that, but it’s been a good run,” Dunphy said.

Dunphy’s friends stopped what they were doing to volunteer their time at the shop once they heard the news. One of them is Wainwright, who said he’s trying to help Dunphy in any way he could.

⏩ Read today’s top stories on

“This is a staple in the community. We just need to try to repair, rebuild and reopen. I think that’s John’s ultimate goal,” Wainwright said.

Wainwright and other friends created a GoFundMe page to help Dunphy rebuild Nashville’s oldest hobby shop. You can donate by clicking here.