Sunday, February 21, 2010

Overthinking the Card Shop

This hobby will make you crazy.

In the past I have had a lot of conflict with my local and only (former) card shop, owned by none other than Cranky himself.

Cranky's shop was a hodgepodge of every type of card imaginable, including hobby boxes as well as loose individual packs available for sale. The interesting part of the setup is that all of the boxes, including the loose packs are kept on shelves behind the counter. If you want a few packs, he will grab the box and let you choose which you want, but you don't get to grope them.

It all seemed on the up and up, nobody likes pack searchers and this seemed to indicate that the owner was wanting to keep the integrity of the product and your chances of pulling a decent hit sound.

But I started noticing things...

For one, I learned that Cranky was a MAD eBay seller, and I mean that two ways...1) he sold a ton of singles on eBay and 2) he was just MAD, as in cranky, really really cranky about how eBay has jacked up their rates.

Also, whenever I would talk about a product, he would mention that he busted some product and found some awesome cards. That's all fine and dandy if he wants to bust some of his own product and sell it on eBay, but little doubts started to form in my mind about the hobby boxes he was putting out on the shelves. Lets say he has a few cases of a product, finds the case hit, and then throws the others out on the shelf or sells them on eBay?

Another weird thing I would notice is when he would consolidate loose packs from several boxes into one box. Therefore, when you scan over a box of 24 packs where there should be three hits, how can you guarantee that there are even 3 hits in those 24 packs...or for that matter even one hit?

See, this hobby can drive you nuts!

Enter the new shop. I have had excellent luck with the products, minus an expired Russell Martin Sweet Spot glove redemption, and the owner has some rules laid out about opening up packs in his shop...he does not want you to do it because if he knows that you get a hit, he does not want to have it on his conscious that he is selling loose packs at top price that have nothing in them.

Piggybacking this, he also would not restock his boxes with non-hit packs because his philosophy is that the customer does not pull anything, then they may not return to purchase again. Very true. He also dabbles in eBay just a bit, but mostly just to purchase SF Giants cards for himself.

Another major difference with the two owners, is that the second owner will put out a few open hobby boxes on his store counter. Immediately alarms go of in my head as I envision pack-searchers feeling them all up and running with the goods. Granted, they are right up by the sales counter so he is probably monitoring this activity, but I still avoid them like the plague.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, in what is becoming a weekly to bi-weekly tradition, I grab little Jacoby and we head to the hobby shop to dink around and see what's worth rippin for the week. This week I scanned the shelves and saw some Topps jumbo boxes. I know that these have been mainly where the cool hat patches are coming from and I really wanted one for myself, plus I am about 30 cards short of a full set at this point.

I asked the owner if he was willing to open a box and break em into individual packs. That's when he pointed to the Topps hobby box on the counter top, where two Jumbo packs were sitting on top of the remaining hobby box packs.

Immediately I broke into a cold sweat. Are these the leftover dummy packs for dummies to purchase?

After scouring around the store for something better, I decided "what the hell" and snagged the two jumbos, plus a new Beckett...and here is where it gets mucked up. I ALWAYS get something last second, and as he is adding up my purchase, I spontanously burst out "are you willing to bust open that new jumbo box and I will grab another pack from you". Of course he was, and he even let me pick which one I wanted. So I go home with three packs of Jumbo and a Beckett.

About a mile away from the store, dread hit me..(No I did not leave Jacoby in the store, though he would have had fun throwing around the junk shelf cards all day).

No, the dread was "Oh crap...WHY did I just turn down the opportunity to grab three packs out of the new box, with 3/10 odds of getting a hit, and take the counter packs and ONE from the new box instead"? He had even offered me three from the new box. My mind just blanked I guess.

So here I was with two potential dummy packs and ONE fresh from a jumbo pack. The two on the counter had price stickers, so I knew which ones I was screwed on. I went home to rip it open. I start with the first counter pack that I was stupid to buy, and what did I pull...

Holy cow! I looked at the wrapper again. Surely this must be a mistake! This could not have been the lousy bait and switch counter pack, could it? Well it was, and I was definitely very happy with this find. This card really draws me in with its old-school lettering. I love this card.

By the way, the other two packs (including the one from the fresh box) did not contain hits or SP's, but I was able to score some additional inserts for my folder, so all is good. I also redeemed the three code cards and was rewarded with some early 70's swag!

Crazy hobby.


  1. Ha, nice. I always add crap on at the last second, too. For some reason I'm unwilling to take change from the owner, so instead I find junk to get for four dollars. Lik four relic cards.

    Ya never know with this "dummy" packs, I guess. There's still one left from a box of Sweet Spot at my shop, and I'm getting a funny feeling that there's something cool in it, like a jumbo swatch. It's been the last pack standing for a while now - I don't get why they don't just open it themselves and crack open a fresh one.

  2. Nice pull!!! By the way...I bought a Hobby box on ebay when they went live and I was fortunate enough to pull a Justin Verlander hat logo card. What made it even SWEETER is that I collect Tigers cards.

  3. Pretty cool looking card after all that fretting. :)

  4. Great write up! I love hearing about hobby store trips. Thanks.

  5. Nice post, but if you dont trust the shop owner dont shop there plain & simple. I dont get the logo card? Where is the logo on his cap?


  6. Im really interested in your Cat auto. I have a sweetspot bat barrel auto of Jon Lester. Its red ink 3/5.

    Email me if you want a phenom auto in return.


  7. Great story! It's also really nice to hear about honest hobby shops with friendly owners who aren't creepy or off-putting.

    Congratulations on the Dizzy! It looks amazing.