28 August 2013

Raz' Ravings 2: I Didn't Support My Local Shop

A little over a week ago my family and I ventured out into the local metropolis to look for the Hobby version of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Series 2 card binder. We spent much of the day driving around and checking places that might have it in stock, but to no avail. The Retail version was pretty easy to find, showing up on the shelves at Wal-Mart. After we got home I found the binder in question on eBay for less than the MSRP, so we basically spent much of the day wasting gas and time, even though it was good to spend the day with my wife and kids. Between work and school I don't get to do much of that.
Near the end of the excursion my wife mentioned that she wanted to go to the fabric store and asked me if I felt like going to the card shop. Of course I did! The card shop is out of the way, so I don't get there too often. I went in and had a look around, eyeballing a couple of products I've enjoyed lately, 2013 Allen & Ginter's and 2013 Press Pass FanFare Racing.
The price on Allen & Ginter's was $120 + tax per box and the guy wanted $150 + tax per box for FanFare. I weighed the A&G in my mind briefly, but I know I can get a box online for around $82 anytime I want, and under $80 when Dave & Adam's has it as a Daily Deal on their site. And I know I can get the FanFare box for $99.95 whenever I want, and even less than that if I am patient (I am never patient). That's a 53% markup on the A&G and 59% on the FanFare. I would love to support the little guy, but not when the difference on a box of cards will buy me another whole box of lower-end product or most of another box of mid-end product.
My wife suggested that I buy my cards online and purchase hobby supplies from the local shop. The last time I was in there I asked for a box of card pages and the guy was fresh out. He says he doesn't get them in very often.
I considered buying some packs from the shop, but there weren't really any boxes open on the shelves. I don't want to have the guy bust open a new box of cards just so I can sample a pack or two of product. I think he gets most of his business from people who come in and buy boxes of stuff, maybe people who haven't discovered or don't trust the internet?
Of course, I ran into the same sort of pricing at the card shop in Portland, but I was able to find some singles at a decent price, which is something the local shop is sorely lacking. I have a hard time understanding what the audience for this stuff is. It is also much harder to browse the singles in the local shop than it was in the shop in Portland. The storefront is much smaller, so many of the cards are in stacks under the glass with Post-its on top of the stack saying what kind of cards comprise the pile. In the Portland shop all of the cards were laid out next to each other or slightly overlapping, so you could browse the whole selection without asking over and over for the case to be opened.
Ultimately I walked out of the shop without making a purchase. I just can't justify paying 50-60% more just to pay this dude's overhead. Sure, card money is supposed to be expendable income, but I like to get the most I can for my hobby dollar, and the local shop just doesn't cut it as far as selection, price, or customer service.


  1. I've had similar experiences with local card shops. Prices are getting higher and higher and the owners are starting to expect customers to pay closer to book value than ever before. On top of that, there's a near 8% sales tax that I don't have to deal with online. What's worse is that my LCS NEVER EVER drops the price on boxes, even if they're complete duds, but has no problem raising them. 2012 Panini Prizm Baseball? $100. Online it's $50. And God forbid I make an offer on it. Supplies are outrageous too. Even when I grin and bare the prices, I'm treated like I'm doing them a favor, not vice versa. Do these people not look online? If I can get a new product for $100 in their shop, but can get it online for $75 with free shipping, obviously there's some wiggle room there. Close that gap just a bit and I'll buy local any day. The reason the card business has declined over the years is because of selfishness, which is why a lot of card shops have closed down too.

  2. My local shops are kind of a joke too. The one closest to me doesn't have but a few vintage cards in the showcase for customers to look at. They don't keep any unopened packs or boxes in stock. He says that he can order any product I want and have it there for me in 3 or 2 days. Well, I can order them online too and not even have to leave my house! When I go in there once every 3 years, I just buy supplies. Even then, the owner makes me feel like it's a hassle for him to sell me some 800 ct boxes.

    The other shop in town (45 min away) has prices that are through the roof. I don't even bother to go in there unless I am desperate for supplies.

  3. I guess this is kind of piling on, but today the local shop posted this to Facebook:

    "Allen & Ginter Baseball Super Special! This Saturday only, August 31 ~ no exceptions! Get a hobby box for only $96! Limit 4 boxes per customer. Tax is additional . Limited to stock on hand."

    At $96 a box, they have to limit this special to 4 boxes per customer. I hope they have hired security to help contain the stampede of customers.