A display like this resembles something you might come across at a card show, but take a closer look and you'll find that what you see here is actually someone's garage.
More specifically, this was what awaited me at a local garage sale I attended this past weekend. The online ad dubbed it The Best Damn Garage Sale Ever, which I naturally thought was a bit hyperbolic. Turns out I'd actually been to this very same garage sale a few times before. The guy's selection seemed to be dwindling the last time I went, so I wasn't expecting a whole lot when I made the drive over this time around.
Good news: among the first things I noticed upon entering the garage/card lair this past weekend were two large 3200-count boxes labeled Baseball -- 15 cents each. Bad news: the guy began putting SOLD signs on everything card-related not one minute after I stepped foot in his garage.
Apparently, someone had made him an offer for everything he had on display, and he accepted. His collection had been bought. And I didn't even get to look through those 3200-count boxes...
I put my head down and prepared to walk out of the garage with nothing.
That's when the guy kindly informed me that until this mystery buyer came to haul the cards out, everything was still up for grabs, a special deal that I'm guessing he may have granted me since I was a repeat customer of his.
I felt my stomach loosen at the happy ending being presented to me: turns out I was going to get to tear through that pair of 3200-count boxes after all.
As I've detailed in past posts, the guy who runs this garage sale is a high-end dealer/collector.
I saw remnants of his past breaks with the cards from big-dollar sets like Leaf Limited and Museum Collection I found in his scraps. I could tell he's the type of collector who buys a box, plucks out relics/hits/anything else of "value," and throws the rest in a box somewhere.
That's okay: I've basically built an entire collection out of culling also-rans from collectors who have a lot more money than I do.
We swapped very different collecting stories (his involving redemptions, mine involving dime boxes) as my eyes continued to light up over what I was finding in those 3200-count boxes, things that you rarely see in discount bins anywhere, much less a garage sale.
Things like big-name rookies.
Things like minis.
(I'm guessing Julio Urias was a relative unknown when the guy originally pulled these.)
Things like short-prints.
Indeed. Among the most surprising finds of the afternoon were the dozen or so buybacks I unearthed from those boxes. Most are earmarked for a few different bloggers I know of who are undertaking various buyback projects, but these two are staying with me.
I'm a huge Bernie Carbo fan, and the Haney (actually a reverse-negative error) is an exciting oddball-ish add to my Pilots collection.
The guy seemed to have busted a lot of Panini product over the past few years, some of which were complete unknowns to me.
The Wilson in particular (a mighty thick card numbered to 125 copies) comes from a set called America's Pastime released in 2013 -- which I had never once heard of before last weekend.
More inserts/parallels from Panini, including a healthy dosage of shiny cards which actually don't look half bad despite the lack of logos.
Most of what the guy had on display involved newer product, though I did find a small dose of randomness thrown into the mix.
I mostly stay away from Kraft cheese these days, but the oddballs are still cool.
You're telling me a garage sale can have mini-collection hits, too?
How about a couple plays at the plate for good measure?
The Martin is a card I've wanted ever since 2013 Topps Chrome hit the shelves, but hadn't yet tracked down for whatever reason.
And now we've come to the main attractions from those 3200-count boxes: the parallels.
The chrome Ethier and baby-blue Price you see here were certainly treats...
...but the real story came in the form of Flagship parallels.
I found about a half-dozen blue-bordered beauties from 2011 Topps Update in those boxes, including this one of former Chicago fan favorite Tony Campana, who still holds a near and dear place in my heart.
But maybe the surfboards from 2012 Topps are more your speed.
Tulo double dips and Matt Harvey gold sparkle rookies are sure to grab anyone's eye.
Or maybe the sea turtles from 2013 are more your game: blue sparkles, red borders, gold borders, whatever you like.
Probably around 50-60 cards I bought were 2013 Flagship parallels, including my first parallel of 2013's Card of the Year, Adam Greenberg.
Or perhaps about 2014 Topps and the -- whatever that design was supposed to look like -- are to your liking.
I guess what I'm trying to say is: these boxes were absolutely loaded with parallels, more so than almost any other discount bin (card show, garage sale, anywhere) I've ever had the privilege of digging through.
And if all that wasn't enough...
...how about a couple black parallels, numbered to just 63 copies each?
Okay, how about a good ol' camo parallel (99 copies) then?
You may have noticed that up until now, I've left one precious detail out of all this cardboard goodness: the final price. Things got kinda out of hand as I was digging (can you blame me?) and, even at the glorious price of 15 cents per, my purchase pile of right around 250 cards was still bound to total more than the cash I had on me that afternoon.
I was just starting to count the number of cards I'd picked out when the guy stopped me, glanced down at the stack I'd picked out and said: Today's your lucky day, just gimme five bucks for everything.
I was so floored that I looked right back at him and said: Are you sure? He answered yes, and I felt like I was getting away with some sort of robbery when I handed him that five-dollar bill.
Let's see: 250 cards, divided by five dollars, that's...OH MY GOD!...two cents a card.
How could this day possibly get any better?
Turns out there were a couple other boxes with higher-priced cards I hadn't noticed during my first tour of the garage. One contained various stars/rookies, separated by player, while the other housed past and present Chicago greats. In the end, the guy let me have the 13 cards I plucked from those two boxes for $20.
I know that sounds like a king's ransom juxtaposed next to the five-dollar deal I just recapped, but trust me here, don't be so quick to judge.
Along with the Corey Seager rookie came Mini Babe and Big Babe from the non-Chicago box.
Inserts and parallels of couple current Cubs with Rizzo and Lackey here, and I must say GQ's blue border parallels sure mix well with Cubs cards.
Now we're starting to get into part of what really made this deal so sweet.
Not surprisingly, I've noticed cards of the Cubs' young core experiencing an uptick in price both during and after the magical season of 2016. Willson Contreras looks to be the backstop of the future in Chicago, and has quickly become one of my personal favorite players to watch in all of baseball.
I nabbed these Bowman and Bowman Chrome rookies of his for what amounted to a little over a buck each, which, I can assure you, is far less than I'd find them anywhere else in the Chicago area these days.
Here's a quartet of beautiful Addison Russell cards, three of which -- given Russell's non-tenure in Oakland -- are treasured new additions to my zero-year collection.
A mini chrome, a melting insert, a numbered parallel, a refractor...what else could this guy possibly have?
And we're not talking buybacks here, either. This is the real, unstamped stuff. Specifically, a 1977 Topps Pete Rose I've had my eye on for a long, long time -- and in nearly flawless condition, no less. Rose cards are hard to come by on the cheap, and they don't get much cheaper than this one.
Gosh, what a way to cap it off. Well, that just about does it for this garage sale from something out of Paradise. SPs, parallels, rookies, vintage, I couldn't ask for much more out of...
Yes. That, my friends, is indeed an authentic 1961 Topps Ernie Banks. That I found at a garage sale. I'm hoping that if I say it more I'll start to believe it, because I'm still not entirely convinced all this actually happened.
Let me assure you that I was fully ready to put this one back, because I pretty much assumed that it would catapult me over my cash limit for the day. But once again, when the guy quoted me a twenty-spot for the lot, I had to ask: Are you sure?
He (again) was, and now I think you can see why $20 for this baker's dozen of cards was an out-of-this-world steal. The whole afternoon in all set me back a grand total of $25, and I exited that musty garage with a box of cards and a huge dumb grin on my face. I had to walk around the block a couple times just to get some air, to take in the deal I'd just gotten.
One thing's for certain: I'll be damned if that sure wasn't the best damn garage sale ever.