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.