Recently I stumbled across a link on The Real DFG to an interesting (and quite bitter) post by a gentleman with a very negative view of sport card collecting. Everyone is entitled to their own point of view, and I do feel badly for the author who, though he claims this is not the case in the opening portion of his post, clearly feels burned because his childhood cards didn't end up being "worth" what he thought they would be. What bothered me particularly was a line towards the end of the post that read "Baseball card shops are dead and they're not coming back".
A few months ago I would've tended to agree with this statement. There were only a couple of hobby shops within driving distance of my house, and both were run by stingy, frugal old men who thought their product was worth much more than it actually is. Beckett pricing was the law and it was pretty clear that neither of these owners knew anything about the internet at all, forget eBay.
After I discovered a great hobby shop a few months back though, my viewpoint changed. My spending went from about 90% eBay/10% retail to about 90% hobby shop/10% eBay. The shop, JC Sports World in North Providence, RI, is run by a couple of guys who understand the discrepancy between book value and actual value, run an eBay store, have a great selection, and most importantly maintain a friendly atmosphere. As collectors themselves, they are more than willing to answer questions or talk cards for hours. They know what I like and what I don't, and almost every time I go in they've set something aside that they think I'd like to look through.
Friday after work I swung by the shop and spent exactly $20, so I figured to I would show off my "hobby shop blaster" to illustrate why the shop is so much better than the big box retail stores. I brought a want list with me for the first time ever, and was able to knock off a huge chunk of the 2009-10 Champs base set, which has been on my radar for quite some time.
I really liked these cards when they came out, but the set focuses largely on the mini cards, which I don't care for. I would like to complete the base set of full size cards though (numbers 1-100), and I was able to knock over 40 cards off my list. Along with the Bobby Orr above, here are a few of my favorites:
Scotty Bowman in his Montreal Canadiens days. I love this card, it's the only coach card featured in the 100-card full size set.
Lanny's is one of the better looking cards in the set.
I really hope that Lucic has a bounce-back season this year for Boston. He did suffer a pretty tough injury last year but Bruins fans are looking for this guy to score some goals and log some penalty minutes in 2010-2011.
A few of the cards were the bigger stars from the set, like this Patrick Roy...
...and this Gretzky.
Finally we have Mr. Hockey himself. I still think this is a great looking set, and the lot I picked up has me within 3 cards of completion. If you have an extra #37 (Lidstrom), #71 (Leetch) or #89 (Stamkos) let me know! I also grabbed a few of the colored parallels. I came home with 10 of the most common green parallels:
Scotty Bowman is my favorite of the bunch. I added 3 red parallels to my collection as well:
I also snagged a one-per-box yellow parallel:
This is my third yellow parallel card. I'd love to complete a set in all 4 colors someday but at one-per-box the yellows can get pricey for the big stars.
I casually collect Sergei Fedorov, and I added 6 new Fedorov cards this trip, including:
The final 3 cards I needed to complete his 10-card Performance Highlights insert set from 1994-95 Fleer Ultra.
A 1995-96 Fleer Ultra Premier Pivot insert.
A 1994-95 Ultra Premier Pivot insert, I think this one looks much better than the one above it.
Finally, we have a 1995-96 Upper Deck Be A Player Lethal Lines insert. I didn't realize it at first, but this insert set is arranged so that you can fit the 3 die-cut cards that form a line together. Fedorov is a center, so he has two arcs die-cut in his card, one on each side. The two wingers that belong on his "lethal line" are die cut with a small bubble on one side so that they fit together like a puzzle. Kind of cheesy but I like the card anyway.
I have probably half of the 1986-87 Topps set, but this Francis was inexcusably missing from my collection until this trip. I miss the Whalers.
I was still burnt out on O-Pee-Chee from the 2008-09 set, so I picked up very little of the 2009-10 product last year. In fact, I think I purchased a single rack pack and that was about it. Even though the Retro parallels don't mirror a design from O-Pee-Chee's past like they did in 2008-09, I still grabbed two of them from the quarter box.
I just couldn't say no to this card for a quarter.
I also grabbed 10 of the aforementioned 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee retro parallels. I only needed these 3, but these are popular inserts and I'll have no trouble unloading the other 7 in trade. These 3 bring me to 393/600, just about 2/3 of the way there. Some day!
I also grabbed this card from the original 79-80 Topps set. It's a bit scuffed and has one dinged corner but Trottier, Dionne and Lafleur for a buck isn't too bad, and it gets me one card closer to completing this classic set. I'm about 2/3 of the way done with this one as well, not too shabby...
My last post was about my desire to complete the 1994-95 Upper Deck SP hockey set, and Sal stepped up big time with a package this week that got me a lot closer (separate post coming soon). To add to it though, I was able to snag four of the more valuable cards that I was still missing, including this Steve Yzerman...
...and Patrick Roy. Two of the best goalies of all time in the lot. The Roy, Forsberg and Yzerman are the 3rd, 4th and 5th most valuable cards in the set. I'm extremely close to finishing this one off now.
I also got two of the die-cut parallels, although I'm not actively chasing them.
That does it for hockey, which was where the majority of my $20 budget went, but I didn't neglect baseball entirely. I picked up 4 singles:
I believe this is a 2002 Topps 206 card, this is a set that I didn't have any cards from. Some day I'd love to own an original, it's definitely on my "white whale" list, but in the meantime this one's good enough. I also grabbed 2 cards I needed from the 1977 Topps baseball set:
Late career, post-Baltimore card of Boog. Finally, perhaps my favorite card of the entire trip:
A 1973 Topps Rod Carew, in great condition. Clean, glossy front, good centering and 4 sharp corners. This one cost me $4 but I thought that was pretty reasonable. The '73 set is really growing on me.
Well there you have it. I haven't seen a lot like that in Target that I recall! Maybe the hobby shop is falling victim to the retail giants, but I'm trying to spend most of my card budget there to make sure that's not the case...
Extra Bases - I'm heading to Pittsburgh this weekend for my brother in laws bachelor party. Should be a good time full of drink, food and shenanigans. We are even hittin...