I'm afraid this is going to be another "the card shop let me down" post. I don't like doing this. But the name of the game with this blog is "night owl's journey through collecting," in which I literally let the cards fall where they may.
Besides, it's not a scathing indictment. More of a "woe is me" write-up than anything else.
Anyway, I think I've made it known that I go out of my way to give card shops a shot. They barely exist where I live, but there I am, going the extra mile. In fact, just last month I walked into my town's card shop with which I basically had cut ties. One more chance, I said to myself.
I was shocked when I arrived there. The overpriced boxes were gone. The individual Yankee hits for sale were gone. All that was left (besides the clothing and memorabilia that bore me to tears), were some opened boxes holding 2012 packs, behind the shelf.
"What do you have?" I said with a confused look on my face.
"2012 Topps," the guy said with a regretful smile. "What are you looking for?"
"I dunno," I said. "Archives, Heritage, something like that (it was before A&G came out)."
"You could check Walmart," he said.
You could check Walmart??????
Did I just hear a card shop employee tell me to check Walmart?
What is going on?
OK, so I walked out of there assuming that there would be absolutely no cards in that shop in another six months. At least I don't need to waste my time anymore.
But I still want to give card shops a chance. Not just online. But in person.
This is why whenever I am in Buffalo, I go to Dave & Adam's Card World. I've enjoyed shopping on their site when I have the cash, but as a lucky person who knows Buffalo inside and out, I get to see in person what everyone only knows online.
D&A boasts four card shops in the Buffalo area. That's a bit deceiving, as you will read soon. Their main shop is in Tonawanda, a northern suburb of Buffalo. It's on Sheridan Drive, which is the main northern drag in Buffalo. Imagine any stretch of road with chain stores for miles and miles. That's Sheridan.
I've been to that store a couple times and bought a box of A&G there.
Another D&A shop is in Orchard Park, on Southwestern Boulevard, very close to where the Buffalo Bills play. But that is a significant hike. I lived in Buffalo for five years and the only time I ever went to South Buffalo was for Bills games. No way I'm taking an hour to drive to a card store.
Another card shop is in Niagara Falls on Military Road. Another hike. I used to work every day in Niagara Falls. Two hours a day in the car. I'm thankful every day that I don't have to do that anymore.
That leaves the shop in Williamsville, a fancy pants Buffalo suburb I know well. It was actually the second D&A store to open and the shop I visited last year to grab my first glance of Topps Lineage. I made another trip to the store a month-and-a-half ago. It wasn't open at the time, and I saw a sign on the door that said "moving to our new location July 22."
OK, I said, I'll be there.
Their new location is in the Eastern Hills Mall, a mall that is filled with childhood memories for me. When it was built, it was very large for its time. We were very impressed as kids. But on this day, I was only frustrated.
With family in tow, we stopped at the mall and parted ways. I went looking for the new D&A card shop. I checked the map legend at the one entrance. No mention of D&A. "Probably too new of a store to get on the map, yet," I thought, and began my journey.
Down one side of the first corridor of the mall and up the other. Scanning my head in each direction to catch all the stores. Then turning the corner. Down that side of the mall corridor and up the other. Then turning another corner. Down that side of the mall corridor and up the other. And again. I even checked those little side aisles where they stick the nail places and the DMV.
No D&A shop.
OK, I thought. I missed it. Better walk the route again. I didn't mind. If I've learned anything the last eight months, it's that walking is good for you.
Down one side of the first corridor again, and up the other. Scanning in each direction. Turning the corner, again and again. There was a train hobby shop. But no card hobby shop. I had two tours of a large mall to prove it.
Finally I had convinced myself, D&A wasn't there.
Maybe they were still back at the Williamsville location.
I sat down with my phone and called up the site.
You're seeing what I saw. And what you will see if you go to the D&A LCS site.
The Williamsville location claims to still be there. (I called the number, but I didn't get an answer).
I was convinced.
I returned to my family who was still immersed in that achingly dull clothes-buying ritual and waited it out without losing any of my sanity. I sheepishly asked if we could check the shop after leaving the mall. My fantastic wife agreed.
It was only up the road. We got there, pulled into the lot, and the building was vacant. The sign was empty. No mention of an LCS in the mall. Certainly no LCS where I was looking.
I'd been duped by false advertising. Or maybe D&A just couldn't update its website in an effective manner. I began to get the impression, while sitting on the mall bench with my phone, that it's not a big concern to them as it took me minutes of paging through Yu-Gi-Oh boxes and sports jerseys on sale before I could find where their retail sites were located. As long as the website is making it money, then the LCS shops are secondary.
But it was deflating because unlike many of you others, it's really the only chance I get to go to an LCS. I'm not really hung up on the camaraderie that some feel when they go to the hobby shop. But I like the chance of getting something that I won't get in retail once in a while. In person. Not after waiting weeks for it to arrive in the mail.
Now that chance was gone until the next time I'm in Buffalo. Maybe.
Because Buffalo involves loads of family and get-togethers with people I haven't seen in a long time. The chances for gallivanting off to a card shop are slim. The schedule is absolutely packed. Four convenient locations may be a nice slogan. But not when there's a half hour of drive time to the closest one and not when there's only THREE convenient locations.
So, what did I do?
What I always do when I'm frustrated and can't get my card fix.
I went to Target.
I got a blaster of A&G. Nothing great. The relic at the top will go to whichever Cardinals fan (probably madding) with whom I can arrange a suitable trade (the relics in A&G, I've decided, are pretty dull this year. And each one I've pulled has been nicked).
And I bought one of those rack pack repacks because they always make me happy.
A Dodger card that I needed (not an easy achievement out of a repack).
A great old-school card from my youth.
Two nice pulls for their time. Henderson just coming off one of the most famous playoff home runs of all-time, and Sierra with an epic 1987 season.
They're putting 2009 cards in these repacks? That was a nice surprise.
And some other stuff like that.
Definitely not anything you'd find at an LCS.
Fortunately, I'm not really an LCS kind of guy.
The LCS's keep reminding me of that fact every time I try to go to one.