The Death of the Hobby Shop

I remember the last time I bought baseball cards before my 10 year break. I had just bought a box of some Upper Deck product and felt nothing—no excitement, no joy in the pulls, and certainly no thrill whatsoever. At 17 years of age I knew that it was time to move on. Back then there were considerably less products being released per year and THREE sports cards shops within 10 minutes of my house.

Today, getting back into collecting took a lot more effort. The nearest all-sports shop near my house is 37 miles away and the last 15 boxes I have bought have come from a comic book store that has a little section of the store to the side with about 5-7 baseball products at at a time. It seems that despite all these great products and amazing ball players of today, the business side of baseball cards has completely died. Even our beloved baseball pricing guide, Beckett, is no longer a monthly issue.

Shortly before creating Wax Heaven I began doing research on opening up a sports cards shop of my own. I began talking with current and former owners of shops and 100% of the time was told not to do it. It just wasn’t worth it and you will lose in the end was something I heard several times. It’s scary but by the year 2010 the sports card shop will probably look a little something like this;

The reason I even began thinking about this topic was because of ChemGod and his post titled ‘The State of the Industry‘ in which he makes a plea to the big companies to return to the good ol’ days of $15 per wax box and 300 cards per box.  Personally, I would give anything to bring back 1997 and the three sports cards stores in my area days but sadly, I think those days are gone for good.

16 thoughts on “The Death of the Hobby Shop

  1. And what the heck is the pack in the bottom two rows supposed to be? The other two packs are easy, but that bottom one doesn’t look like anything… That’s gonna drive me crazy.

  2. One thing I’ve noticed about my local hobby stores is that about 75% or more of their unopened product is less than 3-4 years old. If you want to buy retro product, you almost have to go to eBay or get stuck with whatever crap that no one has bought for 15-20 years. So much to the point where I overheard the owner talking to a magazine ad rep and saying that nearly all his business comes from established collectors who only show up when new product is released. Case in point, I was there picking up a box of just released that week 2007 Topps Series I. Just about the only value added aspects of my local hobby shops are that hobby boxes have far better collation rates and that some hobby stores will have and sell a decent selection of singles on the side.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Bailorg.

    The shop where I have bought my last 15 boxes has ONLY 2007 product. I wish I could get a box of ’05 Bowman Chrome so I could have a chance at the Braun rookie!

  4. Mario, it’s funny that you put the vending machine as the picture of this entry. I knew the years of my collecting was over when I saw packs in vending machines. Glad to see I’m not alone on this one.

  5. In 200 I was overjoyed when a card shop opened up 10 miles from my home. He had a good selection of singles I bought from. He searched Beckett for the cards I needed. Only problem was he bought retail packs and put them in opened Hobby boxes. That made me go back to the shop 40 minutes away. They special ordered anything I needed (unlike the guy at home) and made sure I was able to get any Reds card out there. They are still open. The local guy is gone. Good card shops stay open. Bad ones close.

  6. Damn. How did you find out he was sticking in retail packs into the hobby? My wife bought me a box of Fleer she was told was hobby but when she brought it home it clearly said “Retail” and they took advantage of her not knowing any better.

    We never went back to that place again.

  7. The two shops closest to me are completely different. The one closest to me feels like you’re chatting with a buddy and he’ll be as excited about stuff as you are.

    The one a few towns over, has surly employees (unless you catch them on the right day), but their selection is top notch. Plus, they break down every release into sellable packs. The guy closer to me only breaks open the lesser boxes for pack sales.

  8. I will love it. Hope that they price it at $1.00 a pack. With 10 cards in it. Then i will get back into it for sure.

  9. I walked in the shop while he was making snowballs (shaved ice or whatever it’s called where you live) in the next room (true entrepenuer). The box of 2000 Gamers that only had one pack the day before was full and an empty retail box was next to it. I had been buying 2-3 packs a day and wondered why I was not getting any hits. That’s when I looked at more boxes and some packs had retail on them while in hobby boxes.

  10. I wish I had a card shop close by. Thank goodness for all these blogs so I can actually communicate with people that love the hobby and have some sense. Without all of you it would just be me and Ebay. Man thats a sad thought.

  11. Guys you are seeing the rebirth of the hobby right here! The internet is our new local shop, and the blogging community are the new customers that hang around and shoot the sh*t. We are going to save the hobby! It took me a while to realize it, but now I see it. Blogs and Dave and Adam’s card world are the new home town deal.

  12. You can still open a shop Mario. I’ve actually been thinking about it myself over the last few weeks. The only caveat to opening a brick & mortar shop is that you also have to sell online, either through eBay or through your own website. That’s the only way to make enough to keep the actual shop open & profitable.

    Since I started collecting again earlier this year, I’ve been buying wax boxes, and selling off the “hits” of players that I don’t collect, in order to buy singles on eBay. The funny thing is, if I had taken the money I spent on wax hoping for a monster hit, I could have 4 times as many singles of my guys by now.

    I’ve come to realize in the last few weeks that probably the best way for me to pay for my player collection is to buy cases of wax, and sell the boxes on eBay like most of the big sellers do. They don’t care if somebody gets the hit of a lifetime from one of their boxes, because they still make more by consistently selling boxes one after another.

    So basically, if you sell singles and packs in the shop, and boxes online, you could make enough to keep the shop profitable and most importantly open. And hopefully further your own collection at the same time, while giving local collectors somewhere to hang out, bust wax, complete their collection, and shoot the sh*t with fellow collectors 🙂

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