These days, buying cards is largely limited to the internet and, when in your area, shows. But while there aren’t nearly as many card shops as there were in the boom of the 1990s, many dealers are still doing business at brick and mortar buildings. And new ones even continue to spring up. Here are ten reasons why you should still head to your local card shop.
1. See and buy cards in person
This might be the top reason many collectors still frequent card shops. Buying online is great for convenience and if you’re fortunate enough to find a seller that provides good scans and great pictures, it’s even better. But the nothing can replace seeing a card in-person where flaws might otherwise go undetected. Seeing and feeling a card in-person can also help ease some authenticity concerns you might have.
2. Not all dealers operate online
This might sound surprising but there are still dealers that do not operate a website or even sell on eBay. Sure, the number of those dealers continues to diminish but some only sell cards at shows or in their shop, wanting to avoid the complexities of selling online. If they have something you want, your only option may be to go buy it in person.
3. You never know what you’ll find
Lots of dealers have been selling cards for some time and have all sorts of buried treasures that even they might have forgotten about. Even if they do have a website or sell on eBay, there are often deals to be had on cards that are sitting in boxes on a shelf that most shop owners are happy to show you. Ask for something and they might know where it could be–in a big box in the back no one’s looked at for months or more.
When I was child, my local card shop had a back room where unopened wax was kept and it was completely full of shelves and shelves of cards and boxes. Dig through boxes and sort through cards. Ask questions. You might find something that was worth your time.
4. Guest appearances
As a kid, I remember heading to a card shop where a then-current player had just dropped in out of the blue. He signed as many cards of himself that the shop had and the owner then gave them away to the customers there. While chances of that happening are slim, many dealers run private autograph signings out of their shop.
Dropping in might be a great way to get an item autographed without waiting in a longer line at a show and players might even be more inclined to talk and spend time with you if the crowd isn’t as great.
5. Face-to-face may land you a better dealer
Negotiating over a computer isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Communication is important and there’s no better way to negotiate than face-to-face. Chatting with a dealer when he/she can learn about your collection can often make them more amenable to giving you a deal you might not have otherwise gotten online. They might also remember what you collect and give you first crack in the future.
6. Learn more about upcoming releases
If you’re a modern collector, this is something that should be of great interest. There are so many products out today that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. But card companies want to spread the word and one of the ways they do that is through card shops. A trip to you local shop might make you aware of a product that otherwise went under the radar.
7. Meet other collectors
Box breaks are one of the things collectors of modern cards enjoy and some shops even operate them with public events where collectors can interact. But even if those aren’t for you, shops also hold things like “trade nights” where you can share the hobby and make some deals without spending any money. You can also simply run into other collectors who are just there browsing around. Meeting other collectors is a great part of the hobby and a reason why you might want to head to a shop.
8. Potentially make a sale or trade
Almost all dealers are out there looking to buy cards. Now, they may not be particularly interested in what you have and they also might not be willing to pay quite as much as you’d like. But to stay in business, they need product. Most will be interested in at least hearing what you have for sale and even if they aren’t willing to buy it, you might find some that will swing a trade for something else you want.
It can be a hassle to submit cards for grading on your own and if you’ve never done, even a little confusing. But some shops submit large groups of cards where you might be able to save a little bit of money on the cost if they package yours with other cards to be submitted.
You’ll want to work with a shop you can trust, obviously, but submitting cards through your local shop could take some of the worries out of doing it yourself. You might also get to see some of the cards other collectors are sending in.
10. No shipping and immediate satisfaction
This is really a two-for-one here but buying at a local card shop means you not only get the cards right away but don’t have to pay what can sometimes be expensive shipping costs.
You can order a box online on a Saturday and get delivery by Wednesday but if you go to a shop, you can open it before the weekend is over. There’s something to be said for instant gratification. And even if an online seller doesn’t charge you shipping costs outright, you can bet that most are factoring that into their selling price if it’s not a straight auction. Buying in person at a local card shop removes both of those stumbling blocks.