I chose this George Brunet card as the card of the month for August in part because it's the first 1971 Topps card in my collection. But, more importantly, it helped re-affirm in my mind the fact that there's still a place for hobby shops in modern collecting.
I recently bought my first house in Rhode Island, and around here the card shops are few and far between. The couple of shops that I've found in the area have a very limited selection and the cards are generally overpriced. The end result of all of this is that probably more than 75% of the cards I've purchased in the last year and a half have come from eBay or online card stores. There's something to be said for the local card shop though. Making small talk with the owner, thumbing through the cards, watching a couple of kids come in for bubble gum and pokemon cards; all of these things are associated in my mind with a trip to the shop, and give me a sort of nostalgic feeling that you just don't get shopping for cards online.
The fact that Rhode Island still celebrates Victory Over Japan Day (can you believe that?) means I had the day off and $50 in my pocket which I intended to blow on small pieces of cardboard. I took off for the only really large card store around, remembering that the owner had bragged about his selection of vintage singles the only time I'd visited previously. I was in search of 1955 Topps cards specifically, but found that the owner was asking anywhere from $20 to $30 for commons in the same condition as others I'd paid just a couple of dollars for online recently. The guy was a jerk on top of it, and seemed aggravated that I'd made him drag out his binder only to pass on the cards when I heard the ridiculous asking price. I left 5 minutes later with some toploaders, a shoebox and a 1978 Topps Thurman Munson, $5 less in my pockets, and a general feeling of dejection. As my drive home continued, I got more and more frustrated, to the point where I was cursing the hobby shop and questioning its validity in the internet age.
My hobby shop void still unfullfilled, I stopped on my way home at the only other shop I knew would be open, a total hole in the wall about 10 minutes from my house owned by a scraggly, middle-aged guy with an extremely limited variety of packs. I was looking for something to rip for A Pack a Day, but what I found was a glass case in the back corner of this guy's store that looked like it had about a half inch of dust on it. Inside were tons of stacks of vintage cards in toploaders, a huge variety of stars and commons in every different condition. The owner was the exact opposite of the jerk from the first store, he wasn't bothered in the least to spend time opening the case and passing me different stacks of cards to look through. If it were up to him, I think he would've talked to me about baseball and cards for hours. I would've gladly paid his reasonable asking price for the cards I picked out, but without me asking he dropped the price on every single one.
This George Brunet cost me a measly $.50. I spent almost my entire remaining $45 and left there with a huge stack of vintage commons ranging from 1962 - 1977. I also left with a smile on my face. I think I've finally found a local card shop I plan on supporting for a long time...