by Rich Klein
I learn something new every day. In fact, since I’m training for a new position in my regular job, I learn a lot of things every day; some of which I may actually remember in a few months. This week, I also learned that Sports Collectors Daily editor Rich Mueller and I share an almost identical birth date. This year, I did celebrate my special day in a restaurant where I had not eaten for a while. Hoffbrau Steaks is a small Texas chain which used to have a place near my old apartment where I used to eat what was called a “serious” sirloin of 22 ounces. The new version of the chain did not have as large of a steak but was still a place I had been wanting to get back to for awhile.
Thus, last Saturday evening my wife’s friends and some of her family came to join us for dinner. I will say despite no reservation made on our end or call ahead seating they very accommodating and we were seated promptly. I will also say everyone was friendly. But a few things did come up. The service was slow and three of our steaks came out the wrong size. But the biggest hassle was having to wait what seemed like 40 minutes for our check. In all the time we were there, we never saw a manager come by to even ask how our meal was.
Thus imagine my surprise come a couple of days after I posted a scathing review of our experience on their web site that instead of someone following up with us, there came an email saying that location had closed. That is correct. Within 48 hours of our dining there, the restaurant had shut its doors. Of course, the cards we received offering us free appetizers or desserts don’t do us much good any more.
Today, I started wondering how many times we as collectors have gone into sports card stores not even to realize the location was closing down in the near future. Sometimes the owner has a game plan and does structured reductions to generate cash and reduce inventory and other times collectors just go a store to fine the store no longer exists. Twenty years ago, stores that opened during the ‘boom’ of the late 80’s and early 90’s began to drop overnight just as they had sprung up not long before. If you have any unusual shop stories along those lines, we’d love to hear them (send me an email through the link below).
In addition, I do belong to a birthday club gift exchange inside the online collecting community at Freedom Cardboard, which is kind of a fun way to exchange cards with other collectors. I’ll be writing about some of the goodies I expect to receive in a future Ramblings. Two years ago I got a 1982 Donruss box which produced five Cal Ripken Jr. rookie cards and last year there was a nice assortment of packs. Ever get some really, really good hobby-related birthday gifts? Let me know that as well.
I can tell you that opening surprises from fellow collectors during a month-long ‘birthday party’ is a much better deal than waiting for a restaurant check that’s being held hostage by a restaurant that’s hours from going out of business.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]