Thursday, March 2, 2023

Meet me at the LCS

As I briefly noted in my 2023 Topps post, a new card shop popped up a mere five minutes from my house.

I suppose I should come clean here - the truth is that the store's been open for about four or five months now, and it took me until just a couple weeks ago to finally stop in. If this were 5-10 years ago, a new card shop would've been an exciting event, filled with superlatives and exclamation points. I would have run down there the day it opened. I would've fawned over it, and labeled it as a dream come true.

Fact is, I have low expectations for card shops these days. So many of them just seem like fronts for wax - which I suppose I have no business complaining about since I, you know, bought a box of 2023 Topps that day. But there just weren't many cards in a lot of the card shops I've been to, at least not ones out for open perusal...which is really the main reason I would ever go to a card shop. I don't want to have to ask for everything. That isn't fun for me.

Still, when a card shop opens up a few blocks from where you live, you're gonna go there - the pull of what if it's actually GOOD? is just too much to resist.

Looking around the place, I was fully ready to be disappointed - it's not a big storefront, and at first glance I saw nothing but wax and laughably overpriced stuff behind a glass case (had to give a hard pass to the 1960 Topps Richie Ashburn I saw for $50).

But then the employee came out, and in a strange plot twist, it turns out it's the same "binder guy" I've amassed some massively good finds at the local flea market from over the last couple years. I couldn't get a hold on whether he's the proprietor of the store or just works there, but either way, we chatted for a bit, and he pointed me to a few binders banished to a small cranny in the corner of the place.

And there it was: the very basic (but oddly rare) thrill of finding cards at a card shop! He initially told me they were 2/$1, but after I started pulling quite a few out, he knocked 'em down to 3/$1. The Acuna photo-SP at the top of this post (for 33 cents!) was one of the first cards I found, and carried on the flea market tradition of finding cards from this guy for loose change that I probably shouldn't be finding for loose change.

Pair that with a good amount of inserts to knock off my want lists, and you already had a successful debut trip to the LCS.

But the fun by no means ended there - in the end, I think I ended up pulling something like 150 cards out of those binders.

Certainly wasn't expecting to walk out of the LCS with big-time player collection stuff I needed on that blustery Wednesday afternoon.

A failsafe way to keep me looking through your cards is by throwing a few shiny ones in there.

The binders skewed heavily towards more recent product, but a few oddballs of years past managed to sneak their way inside - creased or not, that Wheaties Ryno is excellent.

One of the benefits to living in a big baseball town is that I sometimes find weird local oddballs in unexpected places - such as the small treasure chest of '90s White Sox stadium giveaways that were waiting for me in those binders.

A new Big Hurt is obviously a thrill, but in a way I was more excited to snag that oddball of Obscure Guy I Collect Scott Eyre, because when the heck do I ever get to add a new Scott Eyre card to my collection?

The prices at some card shops I've been to in the past can be a tad inflated - I understand LCS owners aren't just in for the relatively small fee of renting a table at a card show, because in the end they need to pay overhead, so thus I'm a bit more willing to pay "card shop prices."

But although not all the cards I bought from these binders were ones I would've plucked from a 3/$1 box at a card show, most of them - like this quartet of star power - fell safely into the "definitely worth it" category (including Tom Glavine at the plate!).

At this point, I think you'd agree that the hurdle of my low expectations had been safely cleared, and I was floating right on up into space.

And that was before I got to the middle of the binder, when I found ENTIRE PAGES OF TOPPS RETIRED SIGNATURE.

These fall into the unfortunate category of cards I absolutely adore but rarely see - or at least they did before I unearthed this regular Pandora's Box of them.

Ah! So many big names (Goose Gossage! Bo Jackson!) and fan favorites (Luis Tiant! Johnny Sain!) all rolled up into one beloved set!

Safe to say I've never seen so much of these in one place - I might find one here and there in a dime box, and I've paid as much as a buck or two for singles in the past, but this trove multiplied my previously meager Retired Signature collection many times over.

Last I checked, there's a copy of this card on COMC for something crazy like $10-15, and in weaker moments I've come close to paying that because, between Yaz and the precious autograph shot, this is a piece of cardboard that's hard to stomach not owning.

Yet there it was, for a cool 33 cents, waiting for me a card shop sandwiched between a liquor store and a hair salon in a mini-mall down the block from my house. This whole trip, Yaz included, was one of those unexpectedly pure moments that make wonder if I have a horseshoe hiding somewhere around here.

So yes, it gives me great pleasure to say - and I think I can safely use an exclamation point here - there's an LCS in my town!


Jeff B - Wax Pack Wonders said...

I was surprised to hear you found 150 cards, but when you showed those retired signature cards, it made perfect sense. Love that design.

I went to one of our two local LCS options a few weeks ago after not going for probably three years. I heard it might be under new ownership, but it was still disappointing like before. Overpriced packs or overpriced graded cards were my two options. I didn't stay long. Glad you had better luck!

Mike said...

Looking forward to visiting this place with you! This was quite a haul!

Chris said...

That Yaz is fantastic, and the whole group of Topps Retired singles is quite a find. It's so cool that you have an LCS nearby with unique cards like this at a great price. My LCS is all overpriced packs and marked-up blasters. The only losse cards they have are rows of vintage baseball, in boxes behind the counter. But I'm not working on any baseball sets from 1960-1979 and I'm afraid of what the guy would charge if I found anything decent.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

Amazing deal on that Acuna SP and the Topps Retired too.

beefman said...

I love the Tartabull and Guillen stadium giveaway cards. They look like a mash-up of 92 Score and 93 Donruss, 2 very underrated sets.

Nick Vossbrink said...

Holy wow sounds heavenly.

Matt said...

Love that Yaz photo! Congrats on the great finds!

GCA said...

Holy Hallelujah Batman! Retired signature! So many of my player collection guys in there. Very cool finds.

gcrl said...

very nice. i would have bought all of those retired signature cards even though i don't need or really even want them - just to be able to dole them out to people (like you) who i know appreciate them.

Xavier Higgins said...

When Considering Inflation this is a Dimebox dig for The Ages...

Jafronius said...

Hope you told Binder Guy to replenish the binders for next time...great finds!