18 June 2016

Workin' at the Card Shop 8: A Switcheroo at the Local Card Shop

note: This got kind of long, so here's the short version. I had a disappointing experience with my local shop's Father's Day event due to a faulty assumption. I bought a box of cards, too, and if you scroll down to the pictures you can read about that.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that the local card shop was holding a Father's Day promotion this weekend, and I assumed that the promotion involved the 2016 Panini Father's Day packs that are available this weekend at card shops everywhere. I marked the date on the calendar and blocked out some time to go down there at lunchtime today (I'm working the weekend).

My assumption was based on the fact that it was labelled as a Father's Day event and the Panini Father's Day packs were released this weekend. I was wrong. When I was in the store looking around, he pulled out a bin of silver packs, but they were not the 2016 Panini Father's Day packs. They were assorted packs of other promotional cards from the last few years, mostly of the variety you might find in a bin marked 'Free - Limit 5 Per Person' on a dealer table somewhere. But I was in the store and I was committed at that point, so I spent 23% over the best online price on a box of 2016 Topps UFC Top of the Class cards, which I will show when I get done with my rant. I'm not going to even show the promotional packs I got, because they honestly aren't worth the effort. I wound up with a couple duplicates of some 5-card NBA promo and some 5-card NFL promo, both a few years old. When I got back to the office I looked at the details of the event and noticed that the shop owner never actually said it was a 2016 Panini Father's Day event. Instead the event listing said:
Everyone gets a FREE Silver Promo Pack just for stopping in on Satuday, June 18, for Father's Day! No purchase necessary. One FREE pack per person. Want more Silver Promo Packs? Get 1 additional pack for every $14 spent...
I guess it's bad on me for assuming that because Panini's Father's Day packs are released today and silver in color, the shop's Father's Day promotion featured those packs. He also had posted a Father's Day greeting on his shop's main page earlier in the day with pictures of Panini Father's Day cards, although they may have been cards from a different year. I had actually gone back and forth about whether I should attend the event at the LCS or just buy some Father's Day packs online. I know the LCS prices are inflated, so why spend $14 there to get a $5-6 (the going rate on eBay at the moment) pack of Father's Day cards? I bid on a couple lots of Father's Day cards with the reasoning that if I won them I would stay away from the card shop. I didn't win them, so I fell back on my original plan to get some Father's Day packs at the LCS. That plan backfired and now I'm irritated. I'll have to pick up some Father's Day packs online at some point to make my experience whole. I should have done that in the first place. I posted on the shop's Facebook event page that I had been expecting the Panini packs. The shop owner apologized and noted that the event description did not specifically mention this weekend's Panini promotion. Apparently there were some gems in that bin of packs as well, because the shop owner is posting pictures of hits that people have pulled from their free packs. Maybe my frustration at the mix-up is compounded by some bad luck in selecting my packs.

I read an article a while back about disappointment in relationships. The basic assertion was that disappointment in relationships is caused by unmet expectations, and that the best way to avoid disappointment in a relationship is to communicate your expectations to each other and also to consider the other person's point of view when you first feel disappointment. My expectation was that I would be opening up a few packs of Panini Father's Day packs, looking for the first Panini NASCAR cards. The shop owner may not have even thought about the Panini promotion and expected his customers to be happy about getting free promotional packs with their Father's Day gifts. I guess I am not mad at him specifically, but I am disappointed by the situation.

I feel like I want to support the local guy, but there are a lot of obstacles in the way and I don't get a lot of perceived value out of the relationship. What is the point of driving 20-40 minutes round-trip, paying more once I'm there for a limited selection of items, trying to make small talk with a guy who I find difficult to talk to, and often feeling a bit let down by the whole expedition? I've had some good moments at the shop, too, but for the most part I usually come away feeling like I am not getting enough back for it to be worth my while. I'll probably give it another try in a few months or sometime next year, but for now I'm going to stay away from the local shop. He's been around over 20 year, so there is a customer base there and he isn't likely to miss the couple hundred bucks I usually spend with him annually. I can get more for my money online and I usually get a better experience to boot, probably because online shopping makes it easier for me to manage expectations and outcomes.

I did pick up a box of cards while I was there, so at least I can close this thing out with some kind of cardboard, even if it's not necessarily the cardboard I wanted to show off today. Here's the box top:

This is a hit-driven product. You get 5 cards in the box, with 1 insert, 1 insert parallel, 2 autographs and 1 relic.

There aren't any base cards in the product, but this Top of the Class insert set might as well be a base set. In my mind it is the base set. My base insert card is Jon Jones, who is apparently a pretty good fighter, but can't stay out of trouble when it comes to drugs, the law, and the court of public opinion. I'm not a fan.

This is my promised parallel of the box. It's a Silver parallel of Dominick Cruz, numbered # 22 / 25. This is a 1:9 box pull, so not too bad. I am also not a Dominick Cruz fan, but he owned the recent fight to defend his title against Urijah Faber. I guess I have to give him props for that.

Every product has subjects who seem to pop up in every box, and Johny Hendricks is one of those guys in this one. He got beaten by Stephen Thompson in his last fight, and hasn't fared all that well since losing his belt to Robbie Lawler in December 2014. Stephen Thompson happens to be fighting tonight in the Fight Night headliner, while Hendricks has a fight coming up soon against Kelvin Gastelum. In short, this relic is a dull grey bit of shirt and I'm not too excited about it.

My first autograph is kind of another dud, a base autograph of Michael Chiesa. This is another $1 hit. Chiesa is riding a three-fight win streak, with another fight coming up in about 4 weeks against Tony Ferguson. I don't have any reason not to like him, except that I picked PC guy Jim Miller over him in their fight this past December, and Chiesa submitted Miller.

I don't know if it's a good thing to keep score this way, but so far I'm losing on this box. The two hits are $1-2 cards, and I could probably get about $5 total out of the Jones and Cruz cards. So I'm at $7-9 at the 80% mark of the box, or about 15% of the cost of the box.

The second autograph of the box is a pretty decent card. This is a base autograph of Joanna Jędrzejczyk, the current Women's Strawweight Champion. This is a pretty good pull, probably one of the better base autographs to get in this product. It doesn't quite save the box, as it's a $20-25 card, but it's nice to pull something from the top 10% or so of the checklist. Although I probably only got about 60% back on the sticker price (it would have been over 70% on the current internet low), this card made the box feel like a winner. It would have been nice to pull a couple of PC cards, but this box was okay.

In terms of cardboard collecting it was a bit of a roller-coaster day. My experience at the card shop left me feeling pretty negative, but I think I've worked my way through most of that. I probably won't go back there for a bit, but I'll get some Father's Day packs on eBay and everything will be okay. My box of cards was good enough, and it's been a pretty decent sports day for me. Evan Gattis hit a home run, the Astros beat the Reds, Randa Markos won her UFC fight, and my UFC Pick'Em luck so far has been better than usual. I've got plenty of reasons to be happy, and really in the big scheme of things none of these things are worth getting too worked up about.


  1. Local Card Shops can be frustrating... but in your case I think you have a right to feel a bit deceived by the silver foil packs and the way the owner advertised the promotion. I'm sure he was trying to use the idea of the Panini Father's Day packs as a draw even though those were not what he was giving away.
    Prices at my LCS are high as well. I often have to remind myself that I'm supporting the little guy, buying local, and that when compared to price on Ebay (with shipping attached) the sticker price isn't outrageous.

    1. I do feel like I was deceived. I don't know if the shop owner was being deceptive or if I just made jumps in logic that he wasn't expecting. I've been working on giving people the benefit of the doubt when I feel wronged by them.

      I understand wanting to help the little guy, but recently I've been thinking that if the little guy isn't providing me with a good service I don't owe him a living. I'll give my business to another little guy elsewhere in the world who has kept up with the times and offers what I want. It's unfortunate that the local guy can't keep up, but it's not my problem. When I was young I had to shop with him because he was the only guy I had access to, but the world has moved on from that. I have a limited amount of hobby money to spend, and I don't see the point in continuing to overpay in his shop when I can get better selection, service, and pricing elsewhere. I guess he has a dedicated customer base of old guys who distrust the internet and shop with him out of habit, but I'm not one of those guys.

  2. Replies
    1. It's fine. I just had to get it out of my system. Once I make a plan I get locked into it, and I have a hard time dealing with changes. Then I have to vent and after that I'm fine.