Last week reminded us that despite the start of spring training, winter is still here. We had the perfect Pennsylvania mix- freezing temperatures, winds, snow, sleet and all that fun stuff early in the week. Hey, it’s central Pennsylvania in February. You have to expect that kind of thing. None of the nastiness outside slowed our in store sales and it had no bearing, of course, on our large online business.
On Tuesday, we had a younger guy come in and literally ask to see about 60 different player stacks of cards in our showcases. Our showcases feature stacks of player cards within the player’s team organized alphabetically by sport. So for instance, we would have an Atlanta Braves section with stacks of Chipper Jones cards, Ronald Acuna cards and Ozzie Albies cards just to name a few. The customer basically bought every one, two, three or four dollar rookie card of pretty much every star player in their professional uniform. Everything from a 2011 Score Von Miller RC to a 2018 Leaf Rookies and Stars Sam Darnold RC to cheap Ozzie Albies rookies and a bunch more. I guess in the current market any remotely legit semi-star or star rookie card that can be had for a few bucks is a steal of a deal.
This might be an entirely different topic for an entirely different day but I wanted to give a quick story of an interesting interaction with a customer this week. The store owner had put a box of 2020-21 Hoops Mega on the shelf and it had sat there for a few days. I kept seeing it over and over and the more I saw it the more it spoke to me that I need to buy it. That image of Ja Morant on the cover along with thoughts of Lamelo Ball and Ant Edwards RCs danced through my head. So I pulled that bad boy off the shelf and mentioned to Jason, away from the public, that I was planning on buying it. There was one customer at the counter, completely in the middle of looking at other cards. He made it a point to nearly yell repeatedly from about 10 feet away that he would take the box. He would take the box! He wanted to buy the box! He wanted that box! Now of course, we sold him the box but I think that is a small sample size of what many people are finding in the hobby, especially in a big box retail environment.
If I was in the other side of the counter I personally wouldn’t have thought to even inquire about the box. If two employees were talking about a product out of sight and off record, the last thing I would do would be to yell around the corner to try and make it mine. We have customers come in and relay horror stories and we all see and hear about what’s going on in the Target and Walmart environments with aggressive flippers and such. The last 12 months or so have been eye-opening to say the least.
I know I’m talking about a utopian situation here but it would be nice if we all showed each other a little more decency, courtesy and respect without the retailers being forced to create signs, directions and policy requiring us to be decent human beings. I’m a collector at heart and I pride myself from being able to have meaningful conversations with all the sports card collectors that come in to the shop, so we’re always having conversations about what’s a deal, what bargains we currently have, my opinion on fair prices trends in the hobby and fun stuff like that.
Take a deep breath, Tony. I’m sorry. I’ll step down off my soapbox now.
As I’ve mentioned in past week’s Shop Talk entries, we are seeing a surge in Pokemon sales. We have a pretty solid selection at the moment and the word is out around town. I was behind the counter at one point on Wednesday and I looked up to see about four or five kids and just as many parents headed straight for our Pokemon cards. One of the young kids was even dressed up as Pikachu and another was dressed up as another character that I’m not familiar with. The one kid’s mother bought trainer boxes, multiple single packs and other goodies for her youngsters. They all left happy.
One of our longest reigning customers, Dan, was in again midweek. He bit the bullet and opened a few of our TriStar Hidden Treasures blind box baseballs. He pulled a Chuck Knoblauch with inscriptions, a Cecil Fielder with inscriptions and a random pitcher from decades ago. Although it was really fun to take a trip down memory lane and talk about the players we watched as kids, ultimately, the value wasn’t there as those balls could more than likely be had it about half the cost of the box if you searched online. He ripped open a third package and found… Gary Peters.
Dan was having a field day, as he also opened a few random packs of 2020 Optic Football and other current year football products. He, unfortunately, didn’t hit anything too crazy in the packs but he had a blast and we had a blast watching him. Sometimes, it’s just about the thrill of the hunt, even if you don’t bag much worth bragging about.
I’ve developed a great relationship with one of the best young football players in the area. He and his dad both stop in regularly and buy football for the most part. The young man was in Friday and and bought us out of our current supply of 2020 Optic Football hobby boxes. He was planning to keep them unopened and hold them for a while. We also cracked a 2017 Optic Mega box so he could open a few packs. He pulled a Deshone Kizer Rookie Threads numbered to 25, which, at the time of the release of the product, was considered a nice hit. So, the week ended in a football frenzy and that is about as much as I can personally ask for.
To wrap up this week, we had another busy week in store and online with no signs of slowing down. We feel blessed to be able to do this each and every day.
Thanks for taking a minute to read this week’s piece. I’ll be checking back in again very soon.