All of us need an outlet from the work grind and search to find enjoyment in a hobby that represents our interests.
For Quebecer, Francis Paquet he has taken his passion for sports and collecting and brought it to a whole new level all together.
Back in April 2020, Francis and his wife Catherine started their official venture, when they put the wheels in motion to open FC Authentic. The husband and wife team share a dream to have a large store with a section for autograph sessions and a large variety of collectibles.
Over the years, Francis has grown his collections from hockey cards, to autographs and other high end hockey equipment.
“The passion for collecting and sports memorabilia started with hockey cards when I was a kid. I remember buying lots of packs of cards to try to make complete sets,” Francis said. “As I got older, I began obtaining different autographs in person. For me it was a dream to meet the players and stars I saw on television. There is a feeling of adrenaline when you wait for a player, he comes out of a place and they sign your item.”
The Paquet’s are no different than any other passionate fans, as they have their favourite players.
When reflecting on the rich history of the Montreal Canadiens, Francis pointed out, “that there is something special between the goalies and the Montreal Canadiens team performance and overall success.”
“We started collecting Carey Price memorabilia to keep a legacy of a player that we admire and love to watch,” Francis said. “He is a player that has his left his name in the team record books, but is also a player we hope will be able to win a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens.”
When collecting memorabilia it is not as easy as it sounds to meet players and celebrities. To be successful, you need to be plugged into where the sports teams typically stay overnight for their road games, have lots of patience and time to spare. Another helpful tip is to always be organized with your items that you want to have signed.
“Sometimes what people don’t know is that you have to wait for hours in very cold temperatures to get an autograph and that is only if the player agrees to sign something,” Francis said. “In reality it seems easy, when in fact it can be quite challenging at times.”
One of the more difficult autographs to obtain is six time Stanley Cup champion and author, Ken Dryden.
The Paquets were determined to obtain Dryden’s autograph and made the trip from just outside Montreal to Quebec City to try to catch up with him at an event.
At the last minute the event organizers had made an announcement that Dryden wouldn’t be in attendance. Instead of cancelling their plans, the Paquets decided to make the trip anyways just in case they might get lucky.
“We were aware when we decided to make the trip that he doesn’t sign for fans or very little,” Francis said.
Their plan began to fall into place, as while walking through the arena, Catherine and a friend came face to face with Ken Dryden. At this point very excited, they asked him for an autograph, but he refused and only agreed to take a picture.
Not to be deterred, they monitored Dryden’s presence at the event, still hoping for another opportunity. Later in the day, that moment came.
“He was watching his grandson play field hockey and in between periods, we saw our friends go up to him to ask for an autograph and he signed. We moved over quickly and were about ten fans to get an item signed by Ken Dryden,” Francis said.
With many people looking for different outlets and hobbies during the COVID lockdowns, Paquet has noticed sports fans and some new collectors to the hobby.
“Some people had a passion for collecting, but did not have the time to spend much time on it. During the pandemic many people are working from home, have lost a few hours of work or are even off work. This allows for more time to enjoy collecting,” Francis explained. “People also have less contact with each other socially. They are also spending less in my opinion on restaurants, bars and other entertainment, so it frees up some money to invest in collecting.”
The Paquets are hopeful that later this year they will be able to be open to the public for full public signings with a few different hockey players this summer.
Since April 2020, they have completed four autograph sessions and already have five players planned for the summer of 2021.
To visit their showroom, they are located at 50 Boulevard du Séminaire N, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC
For updates on items available, future signings and other news, visit their platforms below: