2013-The Death of Local Hobby Shops
I have been collecting hockey cards for almost 15 years, beginning when I was about 10 years old. As a child, this great hobby taught me how to care for a collection, money management, honesty, integrity, and it has truly been am enjoyable way to spend my spare time. Throughout my adolescence, I moved from town to town due to my father's career. Nevertheless, there seemed to always be a small card shop in any town I lived in. I had the greatest time checking out those little shops, talking with the owners, building sets, and spending what money I could to keep my chosen hobby sustained. I assumed that the hobby and the shops would always stay that way.........
For the past two years, I have frequented a small shop near my apartment. During my teens I had somewhat distanced myself from the hobby (teenagers spend their money on luxury crap). When I started back again in 2011, I was happy to see that little had changed from what I loved before. I once again became a dedicated collector and over time, I became good friends with the owner of the shop. While this shop was not the fanciest in the city, and not the cheapest, the owner treats his customers like gold. It's the kind of place you can come just to talk, maybe buy a few singles, open a box, or just be around great people. There have also been many times when I witnessed the owner of the shop show tremendous generosity. There were numerous times when I would see a young kid who wanted a blaster box or pack and didn't come close to having enough money. Despite this, the owner would give the kid the item, simply because it made the child happy. In addition, he is always giving deals and savings to people who are loyal to the store. He's just a really great guy who loves the hobby.
When the lockout hit, sales went down. Former customers were going to a store across the city to save $1-$5 on a box and it couldn't continue much longer. 3 months ago, I was in the store buying a box and the owner told me that he had to get a job because the current sales could not sustain his modest lifestyle. He also asked me if I was interested in working at the store part-time while he worked at his new job. I agreed. The last 3 months have been a huge struggle and we recently rejoiced when the lockout ended. We were really holding out for the fresh rookie cards which we knew would bring back interest and business. Everyone was devastated when we heard the news yesterday that no more rookies would be produced this year and that many products would not be produced. Here in Canada, we are strictly a hockey country and there is no interest in baseball, basketball or football. One can certainly question how a store is to survive through a lockout without any new products which usually bring in customers and ultimately sales.
In the end, I fear that most of the smaller shops we love will be forced to shut down because they cannot make it. What I find even more disturbing are the reports that C&C and DAcardworld held a say in what the outcome would be in the production of rookie cards. If true, this would definitely be a conflict of interest as both stores would have great interests in snuffing out smaller competition. With around 8 months until the first release for next year, most smaller shops will not make it through, while the two biggest will surely survive until then. It is also disturbing to consider that a store who is in bed with a company may benefit from preferential distribution and essentially monopolize certain products for monetary gain.