Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why I Hate My LCS: Hobby Versus Retail

I hate to admit this, but I hate all of the local card stores near me.  I am quite lucky there are three within driving distance of my home and one of which is in walking distance of my job.  Two of the card stores are own by the same operation, while a third is operated independently.  It used to be different, as the card store near my job used to have great cards, but limited product.  I purchased two of my T206s from the store, including a very nice (possibly VG) horizontal Barney Pelty with great color and just the slightest hint of a crease in the lower left hand corner.  I also bought a Wilbur Goode there as well for a decent price.  Of course, like all good things, it must end, as he ended up going out of business and selling to one of his competitors. 

Today, being a summer day and already in my car to run an errand near work, I chanced upon stopping at the local card store.  While I do hate them, I still frequent them, because shows aren't every weekend, nor open on weekdays and cards conveniently available is a big draw.  Now, if there is no parking right near by, I can keep on driving, but as usual, there was decent parking available on a Thursday afternoon.

I walked in and saw the same selection of merchandise, jerseys, cards from the 70s through 90s, expensive vintage packs, which unsurprisingly I've bought from during my nostalgic piques and moved over to the new packs, as I was already aware there would be no tobacco cards to be had in the store.  In fact, the one time I asked, I was told that he has other customers who always buy them from him.  As a proprietor in this day and age, I am quite pleased to see he does not need any additional business or people to purchase his wares, but nevertheless, let my desire for convenience beat my pride. 

So, I saw there were some 2012 Topps Archives packs available and noticed there were only three dollars a pack, which is cheaper than the five dollars a pack I saw the last time I was in the shop.  So, not wanting a whole box of highly overpriced cards, I purchase one pack and leave the store.

Now, as you may know, for Archives, Topps made the relic cards quite common in the retail packs and quite rare in the hobby boxes, with the inverse being true for autographs.  In fact, the one pack of Topps Archives I bought at retail this year contained a Yovani Gallardo relic card which sits somewhere amidst my card boxes.

For some reason, I decided to look at the back of the package and notice, lo and behold, my local card shop is selling Retail packs, as the odds of obtaining a relic card were 1 in 30.  I was very disappointed by this.  If I want to buy retail packs, I can go to Target, where people seem to genuinely want my business, rather than the LCS, whose primary draw is Hobby packs.  It's not even a matter of odds or results, it is the principle.  I think it is incumbent on the hobby store owner to indicate he is selling retail.  If I go to a card show, the guy who sells retail boxes and packs indicates quite clearly you are buying retail and not hobby, as he understands the expectations of his patrons. 

Not so, the less than jovial fellow who owns the LCS by me.  He believes we should all be experts and know the difference from 8 feet away over a counter and not feel like a sucker when he is taken like this.  In fact, it is things like this in my childhood that led me to stop collecting cards for a very long time. 

Despite this, I did enjoy the contents of the pack, as the top card was a Nolan Ryan in the very classic 1984 Topps design and my "insert" was a Carl Yastrzemski archives card, which was quite nice as well.  Of course, I still couldn't shake the feeling of how tainted it felt, because the proprietor failed to provide the necessary information about the cards.  Were I to feel even more strongly about the issue, I would call is a lie by omission. 

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