My LCS Experience

I had some free time Thursday afternoon and had the itch to pick up something vintage. Last weekend I had a great conversation with my 88-year-old grandpa about his favorite team - the Cubs - and his memories listening to them in the '40s and watching them in the '50s. I'll blog about that later.

With tales of Ernie Banks and Hank Sauer top of mind, I added Banks to my PC and headed to the nearest Local Card Shop.

I've been there before and have picked up some nice vintage needs. Frankly, I've spent a fair chunk of change there since returning to this hobby in February.

As it turns out, my couple of visits coincided with the owner's rare absence. His second-in-command has proven to be a nice sort - eager to talk cards or baseball, helpful about pulling cards from under the window counter to check prices, willing to work out a small deal on bulk purchases (a handful of cards, in my case).

The owner, however, doesn't share that demeanor. When I walked in, I was greeted with silence as he intently watched the Cubs rain delay on his TV. I had hoped to get some pricing on some '60s-era Ernie Banks and Billy Williams I had seen before - but immediately felt like I was in his way.

Quietly, I asked, "Would you mind telling me the price on a couple of the cards under the counter?" He doesn't make eye contact, casually rises and saunters around the counter. He looks up. "What do you want?"

"Um, well, if you don't mind, I'd like to see the three Ernie Banks' and the three Billy Williams' cards."

He pulls them out and drops them on the counter. Doesn't give me the price on any. I turn them over to see two numbers on each - with a range of $20 to $30 between the two numbers. I generally know - or can guess - what they mean but why should I have to ask? Yet, I do so.

He tells me the high number is the Beckett price and says nothing more.

At this point I should have walked out but I really wanted to buy something and the good feelings from my previous experiences at the shop kept me around a bit longer. Maybe he was just having a bad day.

So, like pulling teeth, I ask about his price. He sighs and finally quotes me a total price on a couple of them and a couple of vintage commons I had selected. I ask - before holding my breath and cringing - if he would come down a couple of dollars.


Not, "I'm really not able to do that, sorry about that" or some such politeness.

I put back a couple of the cards and walk away to look at something else. I remember I also wanted to pick up a storage box so I ask about that. He gets up and grabs the three parts to make such a box and puts them on the counter - then sits back down to watch - and I'm serious - mindless TV announcer banter during a rain delay.

I - perhaps foolishly - went ahead and gave him my business. First, I continued to attempt making polite conversation about whether it takes a rocket scientist to assemble the box - to which he replies, "Not really." Even though he can probably assemble one in 30 seconds, he doesn't so much as offer. I would have said, "That's OK, I can do it" but an offer would have been a nice touch.

In any case, as soon as I left the shop, the surprising experience hit me a little more and I immediately was mad at myself for not scrapping the whole idea and going to Ebay instead - or waiting for the next show or simply traveling a fair distance to another LCS.

I love my purchases, don't get me wrong, and I'll post them in a day or so, but the experience means I won't go back to this shop.

Typically, if I'm treated with such borderline rudeness (and certainly indifference) I'm one to call the offender out with a "Did I say something to offend you?" or "Is this not a good time for you?" but for some reason I held back this time and let it go.

I believe I'm correctly describing the exchanges so I guess my questions to anyone reading this are: Did I overreact? (Clearly not to him - but in my mind.) How would you have handled it? (Both in store and going forward.)

Meanwhile, unrelated to all of this, here's a cool card I pulled last week in a Heritage pack. I never get lucky like this. So close to Ted Williams, yet so far.


  1. I don't think it's unreasonable at all. He wasn't as welcoming as his other employee, and certainly wasn't eager for your business. It's too bad.

  2. Maybe he was having a bad day, but that's no excuse for treating a customer that way. If you don't have any other LCS choices and you enjoy interacting with the other guy, I would say only shop when he's there.

  3. The closest card shop to me is ran by two yankee fans and they still treat me very well. I actually enjoy the playful back and forth. Personally I have actually never been to a card shop where they were rude. Closest I have came to that was a dealer at a card show that was asleep at his booth and wouldn't wake up to an "excuse me". I guess I would go back and ask when the other guy was working and let him know that is when you will be there to make any purchases.

    I wonder where Topps got their auto checklist from. I mean really, what would possess them to even put out an auto of Wills? I know who he is, being a Red Sox collector, but I doubt many others do. If you find yourself wanting to get rid of it...

  4. My best guess was that Wills is alive and Topps was able to contact him to sign 1,000 cards or so for about $2 a pop.

  5. I should know the city this place is in (cuz I just sent you a slew of cards) but tell me anyway...

  6. Thanks for the feedback guys. I really appreciate it.

    This LCS is in the Chicago suburbs. Sewing: I'll send you an e-mail. The town is not the same as mine.

    Thankfully, I can occasionally get to my two favorites in Chicago, in our old neighborhood (ironically when we lived there for several years through 2007 I had yet to rediscover cards).

    They are about five blocks apart. I paid a visit a few weeks ago and picked up some nice cards, including some of my '76 needs and a quirky Red or two.

    We also were in Chicago this entire weekend and I was able to visit one of these stores again today. (The other was closed.) Both of these shops are run by classy gents, very kind and helpful.

    Oh, Adam, I had earlier promised the Wills card to another guy. (I posted it I think two weeks ago although it was buried in another post and I don't think many saw it.) I'm not sure if that deal frittered out as I didn't really get an offer of anyone for it.

    Did you know someone on ebay has it listed for $38? That seems off the charts - although I know at least one sold the other day for $19! Still seems high.


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