The Death of the Baseball Card Shop

This is an essay I wrote in March, let me know what you guys think!

I remember 1993 like it was just yesterday. I could walk out of my home and ride my bicycle to one of three baseball card stores in my area. Each one had their own clientele, different selections, and products. If you wanted new wax, the high-end store was the place to go. If you were searching for singles, the one nearest my home was the place to find that rare gem for your player collection. The last store specialized in rookies, autographs and memorabilia. It truly was a great time to be a collector.

Today, that high-end store is now a Wendy’s, the shop near my home sells bicycles, and the autograph/memorabilia shop that once sold Mickey Mantle and Nolan Ryan autographs? It’s now a comic book shop. Inside, you can find a small display case in the very far corner of the store with a few products of baseball (some old wax, some worthless singles). Try asking a question about a product and you might disturb a Magic: The Gathering tournament going on or worse, the “Comic Book Guy” will roll his eyes and tell you he doesn’t know what a Topps Finest Refractor is numbered to this year.

Fortunately, there is hope for new and old collectors in the form of baseball card blogs. From long-time writers like Chris Harris of Stale Gum, to the originator of the “blog” about baseball cards, Ben Henry —there is more information out there than you will know what to do with. Try going to your nearest hobby shop that deals in baseball cards and ask him to write you a review on the latest Upper Deck product, and while he’s at it, have him open up a box and show you the cards inside. Odds are, once he is done laughing at you, he’ll probably ask you to leave and never return again. Thankfully, blogs like does video box breaks and product reviews on over 25 different releases per year.

The baseball card shop atmosphere is dead in many areas all across the U.S but more than likely there is a blog out there that will suit your needs. From player collectors, set builders, comedy/satire, hobby news, and everything in between—there is someone out there writing articles day after day just for you. There is no monthly release, fees, or anything of the sort. It’s a world full of collectors pouring their knowledge and love for the hobby into each and everyone one of their works. If you want to be lazy you can find the same at an online forum, but the comradery you find in the Baseball Card Blogsphere is unique and unprecedented. It is the pulse of the hobby, a place dripping in opinion, creativity, and that feeling you used to get after spending six hours at the baseball card shop arguing or discussing baseball cards with the owner and his clients. No other place but Beckett Media would embrace the underground movement of baseball card blogs. Kudos, Beckett!

-Mario Alejandro



  1. The old baseball card shop by my house has gone out of business. Now, it is one a million different nail salons. I miss the smell of the place, an odd combination of leather, cigar smoke, cardboard, and old spice. The 7-11 around the corner used to have wax packs in the candy aisle. I could get 2 packs and a small Slurpee for the four quarters that I took from my Dad’s change can. I miss the old days too.

  2. Great essay Mario! Same situation where I’m at in Illinois. There are 3 shops within quite a bit of driving distance. All over-priced, and if I want anything that’s not from 2008, I have to order it online. I actually called a place the other day that’s about 2 hours away. I asked if they had any hobby boxes from 2007, and the guy actually laughed into the phone. His exact words were, “why do you want stuff from 2007, nobody buys last years boxes here”. Over-priced, and out of touch.

    I’m so glad for you and everyone else out there writing and sharing. Like I told you before, you are the reason I started my own blog. I’ve got a couple big things on the horizon too, so keep a look out next week!

  3. Your essay seems to hit the state of collecting baseball cards right now. They key to adult collectors is community – and the card shops were the center of that community. Blogs have offered an alternative center that appears to be pumping some life back into the hobby.

    Grammar: Thankfully, blogs like does [do] video box breaks and product reviews on over 25 different releases per year. [blogs is the subject – it is plural]

  4. Well you can still come to The Backstop and BS with collectors hanging out.

    Hey Mario, maybe you should write a weekly column for us to post on our site. Let us know.

    The Doc

  5. I’m fortunate enough to have a baseball card shop in nearby Portsmouth and the guy who runs it is really, really nice. He sells everything from singles to local stars to high end boxes to packs of just about every brand and in different years.

    It’s also where I get my toploaders, boxes, etc… It’s really paid off too because I’m trying to build the UD Masterpieces set, and instead of buying packs of 4 for $3.00 at Target I can get the singles there for 10 cents a pop.

    Anyway, the guy is fun to talk to and he does it because he loves cards. I always shop there because I want him to stay in business forever!! They’re not all gone yet.

  6. There use to be four or five card shops,with in about a five mile radius from my house.All of them have gone away.I really don’t like going to my local Walmart or Target to pick up some wax boxes.Worst yet buying a wax box on ebay for a decent final price but getting killed on the shipping fee!
    There use to be a card shop with-in a stones throw from my house.That was the place to be!
    It was a little shop,but the owner was a super cool person!The stores owner Big Al really knew his stuff,he was always right on point about what to collect or not to collect.If you wanted something and didn’t have the money at that time,he would hold it for yea.Even would let customer buy wax boxes and or cases at his cost!
    This was the place to be,it was like a hang out for card junkies.There was even times guys wifes/girlfriends etc would call the shop just to see if they where there or to tell them to bring something home.This was an amazing place,it was a close futurity of guys.There was always the local game on the old 13 inch black and white TV and the radio was tuned into Frank Sinatra.Getting the picture?
    Friday night use to be pack poker night after hours.There where so many people that wanted to play that you had to pick numbers out of a hat to get in to the game.Even people that didn’t play or collect use to want to hang out at the shop.
    We use to stay there some Friday nights into Saturday mornings playing pack poker and talking about the hobby sharing storys and eating great Home Made Italian Food!
    The local police department use to check in,just to see if everything was alright.
    Man I miss them Days Big Time!!!!

  7. I bought cards starting again in 1990 with my then young son.
    I collected when I was youngk, 1960 I was 10. Oh,to have those
    cards, again. Anyway, stopped when my son grew up and wanted
    to start again. Whoa, I couldnt believe the prices for a basic pack.
    Now it seems to need to be rich just to buy a pack that might raise
    an eyebrow. I try to collect alittle but now I hyave been priced out of
    anything of any interest to the 1 dealer in my town, that is when he
    looks my way. I dont blame him his inventory must be out of this world
    just to keep the doctors abd lawyers happy. Farwell old hobby, I wish you
    well. signed just a small fish

  8. Brilliant article! I was in Kissimmee in central Fla in December 89 on holiday by myself. Wonderful, there was a large baseball card shop right beneath my short rented room on Main Street, it was the first one I ever saw. In England we don’t have shops just selling football (soccer) cards or anything like that, maybe we used to have small stamp shops on corners, not anymore, but this was like a car showroom- massive!!! This started my passion in baseball cards and subsequently, baseball. It is a very very cult sport here in the UK behind US Football, Hockey and Basketball. People laugh at me when I try to tell them about its extreme skills. Anyway I saw Tom Paciorek and the great George Foster with the St Lucie Legends at Orlando in the senior league. Bill Stein hit a foul ball into our stand and Tim from St Louis got him to sign it for me. He asked Foster but he said **** off! The next day we went down to the card shop and they found me a Bill Stein card. I was made up. I’d be scared to go back to Kissimmee in case that shop was also a bike shop or a comic store. A real side of America that is truly cultural, antiquitous and progressive, all at the same time. Although it is great for the likes of me to buy cards here in the UK eBay is a big reason for their demise. Progression in one way regression in the other, by the same tool.

  9. You want to see why card shops are dying check youtube video by Cisco69 pack searcher got a hit in every pack, odds of that happening are not that good. Regulars search and the card shop owners don’t give a crap.

  10. Just my comment on the death of the sports card store. The baseball card companies have brought about the demise of not only stores but the companies themselves. being in the business for 15 years, running my own store. When ever we tried to buy direct, we had to show proof of storefront, produce tax number and also give refrences. But, always on ebay, online only sellers could get new product before I could and sell boxes for just a few dollars above cost.
    no storefront can stay in business with this kind of no overhead competition.
    So we stores have slowly gone the way of the DODO, but now because of the baseball card companies have finally shot themselves in the foot for their lying to us stores who have been their bread and butter for the last 40 years.
    So good riddence to Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, Pacific and all you other lying companies who said “WE WILL ONLY SELL TO ACTUAL BRICK AND MORTAR STORES”. which as we all know by now was a big fat lie.

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