Wednesday, July 6, 2011
My weakness as a collector
I just rolled back into town a few hours ago. I haven't been able to deal with much related to card collecting or blogging since late last week. I kept up with the blogs as I could, but if you held a contest or something that required my dedication, I apologize. I was too wrapped up in festivities.
I didn't even have time to set foot into the new (well, it's not "new" anymore, but as with anything "new," it remains "new to me" for months and maybe years until I can check it out) Dave and Adam's hobby shop in the greater Buffalo area.
I plan to do that next month. But over the weekend I had the chance to do only one card-related thing ... and I botched it spectacularly.
I know revealing personal weaknesses isn't exactly tradition on the blogs -- we're supposed to present an air of invincibility at all times -- but I prefer to use the blog as my travelogue through the hobby, so bear with me in my moment of weakness.
And my biggest weakness as a collector has always been impatience.
It's not really a collecting thing. It's more of a shopping thing. I'm an impatient shopper in general, unless it's one of your big-ticket items. In those times, I beat the salesman down with my methodical march to purchase. But in the hobby world, impatience rears its demanding head over and over.
I've kept it in check the last year or two. I order online a lot more, even though it's AGONIZING at times. I do not buy blasters at all unless they are marked down (and the cards don't curl). I try to focus on quality over quantity, but that's a hit-and-miss thing, and I really missed this time.
See, there is a giant flea market every Sunday in a suburb of Buffalo. I've been there only one other time, because Sunday is usually get-away day. It's amazing all the stuff that is for sale at that thing. Most of it, of course, is atrocious junk -- used DVDs for yards and yards. Food items. Way too many people buying your gold. Craft junk that doesn't even register in my field of vision.
Out of all of that -- and I'm talking one very large building and one very large parking lot -- there is just one guy selling cards. Well, there were two the last time, but I saw just one this time.
I bought a couple cards from him the last time. Nothing great. He has the usual -- star cards and some single relics and autos, and a few boxes of Bowman and Topps on display. But I spent some extra time looking because I really wanted to get something there.
Yet, even though I was there for awhile, we never had a conversation -- not even a "hello " -- because he was yacking to some other dealer about something. It went on for awhile.
I HATE this.
Then I spotted a '75 Nolan Ryan-Record breaker mini card. Oooh, I liked that. It was too expensive. But maybe I could talk him down.
Only, the two chatty guys were joined by another guy, who slammed his bag on the counter and announced what he had just bought or sold - I don't know which -- and off they went. Yack, yack, yack.
Meanwhile there was this customer. Someone obviously interested in someone's wares because he was bending over and staring in the glass display ...
Still they chatted. Yack, yack, yack.
Then I spotted something I really wanted. A Roy Campanella jersey card. Wool jersey card. Awesomeness. Also too expensive, but maybe I could talk him down on that ...
But, no. Yack, yack, yack.
They really didn't talk terribly long. A few minutes maybe. But like I said, I get impatient. It had to be obvious that I was hovering there for a reason.
I couldn't believe that during that time, the person behind the counter couldn't say, "Just a minute. Sir, can I help you find something?'"
Listen, I worked in retail quite a bit when I was younger in a few different places. I was constantly asking customers if I could help them with shirts or jeans or socks or candy or greeting cards or whatever. I would say it repeatedly and unsolicited, "Sir/Ma'am, may I help you?"
This was not my business. My name was not on a sign overhead. It was merely a part-time job. But I thought it was the helpful -- and professional -- thing to do.
Yet, they were still chatting when I left them. I exited the building. Walked past the fruits and vegetables. Walked past the carpet displays. Walked to my car. Got in. Drove out of the parking lot. Drove a half-mile down the road. Entered the parking lot of shopping center. Pulled into a parking place in front of Target. Walked into Target. And blew my money on a Topps value box and a repack rack pack.
Historically, those two items have been good to me (I will be having a contest in a week or two to demonstrate). But my luck has been running out lately and these particular items featured squat.
The Fleer Inscribed Ichiro at the top is the best thing I found.
And somewhere at the end of opening the last pack, I wished that I had the patience to wait out the chatty salesman or to actually interrupt them and say, "excuse me, but I'm interested in this Campanella card here."
But I didn't, because I was impatient and thought he should DO HIS JOB.
So instead of having two cards -- or maybe one card -- that I want, I have a bunch of cards that I don't.
This would happen a lot more to me three or four years ago. Thanks to trial and error and reading a few blog folks, I've figured it out. But every once in awhile, I slip back into my old habits.
There's one thing you can say, though, that will keep me from doing this.
"May I help you?"