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The Local Card Store Question

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Another one of those popular questions that gets asked of us but for some reason it came up several times this past week. Why have so many card shops closed over the years ? This has happened to stores of all sizes over the years and the answer is simple. LACK OF LOYALTY and GREED.
With the intrusion of Ebay, Amazon and other websites the card buyer doesn't have to leave his home to buy what he wants at prices that may be cheaper then what the local card store is willing to do. With flea market vendors and other hacks selling cards without any regard for honesty or building relationships the card buyer can get cards and roll the dice as to whether they are getting a deal or not. This is really a disappointing chain of events because regular card collectors who would support a local store are vastly out numbered by those looking to buy cheap and sell high to make a quick buck or two.

The local card store was where you came to buy your packs and boxes to build your set. Then you came in with your checklist and your doubles and traded for the cards you were missing or bought them. Nowadays the card collector is a fickle crowd dominated by speculators buying rookies, jerseys, autos and so forth of their favourite players and not interested in base set collecting. Strike one for the local card shop.

Strike two was the flea market venues popping up all over and vendors reeling the fish in. For these 'sellers' it was like shooting fish in a barrel. People were knowingly going to flea markets and getting fleeced of their own free will. Now the local card store had competition for the collector's buck because the same thing the store was selling the flea market vendor could sell. The flea market vendor could use his ABC Construction vendor permit to buy the product without a store and without paying sales tax. Of course the flea market guy could sell it cheaper because he paid next to nothing to sell his stuff, he had company write offs for more stuff and he didn't claim the income from the flea market on his income tax anyway.

The final death blow or strike three for the card store owner was the internet and the various vehicles the card collector could buy from. From Ebay to Amazon and everything in between plus online card stores that only exist in the internet world the actual brick and mortar card store was done like dinner. Upper Deck tried to help the real card store owner with their 'Brick & Mortar' program but it has proven to be not worth the paper it is printed on. Our local flea markets have Upper Deck hobby product the same week it comes out as do we. For the record Panini has done nothing to help the real card stores with any seller protection.

The bottom line is the buyers have created the mess that the hobby is in by not supporting their local card store. If the store owner was trustworthy, decent and not greedy why would you go looking to buy elsewhere ? Of course these are the same people who wonder where the local card store went.

For the record I have been in this hobby for over 35 years and opened my first card store in 1990. In June we will be closing our existing card store for the exact reasons I have detailed above


  1. frozenheroes's Avatar
    There is certainly enough blame to go around and I certainly wouldn't be defending the card companies. They have done virtually nothing to help the card store survive except drive prices up with their products and let anyone who wants to sell them have them. There is only one entity making money and that is the card companies.

    Quote Originally Posted by yazfan71
    First of all, I am sorry that you are having to close your store after 23 years. But you should take some pride in the length of the run that it had.

    I've seen several card shops close over the years for many different reasons, but I don't remember any of them being because of the buyers. The last one in fact blamed it on the card companies themselves for overproducing cards, making them in his words, "worthless". The guy still owns a card shop, but he hasn't carried any sports cards in almost 20 years now & is strictly gaming cards. I still go in there from time to time for storage boxes & such. He always asks me if I'm still wasting my money on ball cards, to which he already knows the answer as I wouldn't need the supplies if I wasn't still collecting.

    If you ask set builders today about the first strike that you mention I would bet that many would say that the local shops pushed them to the wayside. As many shop owners quit carrying their massive inventories of bulk base cards when they found out they could make the same amount of money selling one game used or autograph card compared to the hundreds of base. I'm not saying it doesn't make sense to carry less overhead if you can make the same money or more without it, but it all depends on your point of view as to the reasoning.

    One answer to your question on why someone would look elsewhere to buy would be the simple fact that no one store has everything. Of the 5 purchases that I've made so far this month, three were local releases with one item from Massachusetts in the late 60's, one in North Carolina in the mid 80's & one from Texas last year. Somehow I doubt if any LCS were open in the small NE Indiana town where I live would have any of those. I may have found one of the other two items, maybe, but that one I picked up for $.21 delivered. I don't expect any one store to have everything I am looking for anymore than they should expect me to limit where I shop.
  2. frozenheroes's Avatar
    Thanks for all of the comments. It is interesting to read what other collectors think. The sad fact is the card companies and the distributors created this mess by selling their product to everyone and anyone who wanted to pay for it. The card store owner has virtually zero protection from every hack who wants to sell the product, do box breaks and so on. As long as the card companies and the distributors are driven by the almighty buck and not by the hobby itself the lonely card store owner is doomed.

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