I’ve always been a big advocate of supporting local card shops. I believe it’s always been a big part of the hobby. The one on ones face to face makes it a social club as well as a parent bonding thing with their kids.
Buying cards or packs on a whim and getting immediate satisfaction means a lot.
Unlike with Walmart, like minded people would spend hours just talking about the hobby and their unique experiences. The employees were just like them so those bonds were made.
To this day, I still get emails from young people who were customers years ago. They remember the tiniest details of those days in the store. One kid who I caught shoplifting and I put him in my car and drove by the police station before taking him home to see his parents…is a police officer today and he thanks me for that:)
As much as you can, support those local shops, even if it costs you a few extra bucks. Trust me, when you look back on it, those dollars mean nothing. The memories though, are priceless.
The newspaper article below is from Columbus where I had a card/comic/collectible shop. Does something look familiar in the background?
And to the wiseacres, yes, I used to be that skinny lol.
That anecdote about the police officer is amazing. I’m really glad you brought this up Gary, because I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot recently.
On top of collecting Pokemon cards, I also play competitive Super Smash Bros Melee. My first introduction to the competitive scene was at the only local game/card shop around where I attend college. They held a tournament for Melee my freshman year, and I decided to enter on a whim because I always loved the game growing up. That one tournament started a 5 year journey where I met some of my closest friends and had some of the best times of my life.
Thinking about this makes me especially sad when I hear people predicting the demise of all local card/game stores, because I would have missed one of the most formative periods of my life without them. Hopefully people realize the intrinsic value of these places, and do what they can to keep them alive in their area.
Our local game store actually almost went under, but the community rallied and was able to raise enough money to keep them a float. It gave me a new sense of hope for the brick-and-mortar store, and made me realize just how crucial they are for so many people.
I bought my first pack of Pokemon cards from the hobby shop in my hometown, where I still live. The shop went under shortly after opening back in the day. Numerous businesses have occupied the building since (the current occupant is a tailor) but I am always filled with that wonderful memory every time I pass by.
My mom had a small part time job when I was younger as a clerk for a car wash, and right across the street was a TCG shop. I spent most of my time there during the day and after school. I used to find small end “jobs” for my mom/car wash for a few dollars to buy a pack lol.
It heavily influenced me, as most of the crowd/community in there were much older and experienced people. I learned a lot on top of all the memories. I still love to stumble into random shops whenever I visit other cities.
I love this sentiment. I try to frequent the card shops in my area mostly for immediate gratification but building the sense of community in the hobby is so nice too. There is and always will be a place for physical stores with specific objectives.
Very cool article and even cooler that you used to own a hobby shop!
I agree. Card shops are great for the community and are all around fun places to hang around and shop in. Online is cool, but there is nothing better than shopping at a local business with a friendly atmosphere. There was a comic/card shop near me that was open for about a year and always got great business. There were tables setup for people to play Magic and TCG’s and scheduled game nights. Sadly, they closed about 6 months ago to open up a bigger location, but never actually reopened
I enjoyed visiting weekly to flip through the Pokemon binders to see the new stuff they have and would always chat with the workers about hobby stuff. I found myself picking up singles I would never normally buy on ebay. Even manged to get a Shadowless Charizard for about $100 and got it graded (psa 6). Getting misc foils from a variety of sets was fun.
Sadly, the only card shop in my area now is super sketchy. It’s run by an old guy who is mean to customers and the small store is littered with mouse traps. The last time I went there, the sign said ‘closed’ but it was an hour after the listed opening and the door was wide open. He then gave me a hard time about coming into the store, complained about my red car (what’s with people these days getting red cars anyway?), and reluctantly let me make a purchase.
Opening a hobby shop as self sustaining, family owned local business would be my dream job. Maybe one day…
I love supporting cards shops. It is actually where I have obtained 90% of my collection in the past 2 years. Unfortunately, the majority of the shops have prices well above eBay prices and it is hard to do business that way… especially when some owners won’t haggle or even match eBay.
Brick and mortars have a higher overhead so expecting them to ‘match eBay’ is very unreasonable. After you add in the benefits, like seeing cards in person to gauge condition, they more than make up the difference. I’d say this about most collectible categories.
There’s a card shop near me where I loved to shop. The owner started getting paranoid I was grading his cards and getting PSA 10s, so he changed his pricing to be based on PSA 10 sold copies of the cards. I made significant purchases there, but I haven’t gone back since he tried to charge me $130 or some ridiculous price for a raw 1st edition holo Gym Heroes Brock.
It’s sad tpci doesn’t really help local game stores.
You don’t get over the counter bonuses such as the foil promos like gamestop/eb games as an incentive to get people into the store.
You can’t advertise local tournaments in the official pokemon database, only the dumbed down “Pokemon Play” program.
There’s absolutely no premium product that can only be bought at a local game store, once again that privilege has been given to big retailers in the past.
WotC, for all their flaws, gives LGSs some incentive and bonuses BUT the same incentives replicated for Pokemon would go much further because Pokemon people are less price-sensitive and shrewd with their buying. They will jump at anything.
You could argue the Play Promos help… but the Pokemon playerbase is tiny. Local events get dwarfed by Yu-Gi-Oh! and even Dragon Ball Super.
Not to mention there’s absolutely nothing stopping anyone with the bare minimum of a business purchasing as much Pokemon product as they want from distributors.
This is absolutely awesome to hear Gary. I really admire and respect what you did for that shoplifting kid. Instead of turning him in to the police, like most would, you taught him a life lesson that obviously stuck with him, since he is now a police officer. This is something I could see my Dad doing. You are a very wise and old school type of guy. People like you are a dying breed and hard to come by man.
I can still vividly remember my dad taking me to our favorite card shop in Phoenix when I was growing up. It was the golden era 1999- early 2000’s. Every time I look at my collection, I get the same feeling i did back then. The memories flood in. This is one of the main reasons I love our hobby. It brings me back to that special place and time in my life when I was still innocent and had nothing to worry about, other than what cards I was going to pull that day. I still get that same feeling to this very day and I hope it never goes away.
Unfortunately there are no card shops within a 2 hour drive of where I live. I would definitely be there every day hanging out and supporting the shop, if there was one. Like you said, I can remember spending hours in our card shop with my dad, talking with others who enjoyed Pokémon as well. Those were the days…
When you’re right you’re right Gary. Collector’s Cache was within a mile walk of my house when I was growing up. I loved going down there as a kid. Very happy that they are still going strong. Lots of good memories
Where I used to live we never really had any card shops. The only places that sold cards were toy stores. Even now there’s no card shops, just a few comic or game stores now that also have recent pokemon blisters and packs but that’s about it. And it’s usually just Pokémon and MTG, rarely Yu-Gi-Oh, and exactly one store also has the final fantasy tcg and dragon ball. And this was a decently sized city for Belgian standards. There used to be a collectables store in the local mall but that closed down after a few years, and it wasn’t the kind of shop you could hold events at.