I'd like to chat with a card store owner

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4.90 star(s)
Jul 20, 2007
St. Louis, MO
I've been dreaming of owning my own card shop since I made my first visit to one in 1983. I'm almost there, but before I jump, I want to ask someone that has a small shop a few questions related to dealings with the companies themselves.

Thank you in advance for any insight.
Personally I think the days of the "brick & mortar" shops are done. Sure there are still a few around, but now that you can buy everything on the internet, it's tougher for people to have these types of businesses.
Personally I think the days of the "brick & mortar" shops are done. Sure there are still a few around, but now that you can buy everything on the internet, it's tougher for people to have these types of businesses.

I hate to agree, but I do. We had a great one here, and closed up out of the blue and the owners dropped off the planet. Shame, nice family owned shop.

card shop talk and talking baseball at the barber shop are two things I miss from my youth...my local barber died a couple of years ago, he was like 80+ years old...you just can't replace people like that. Card shop is the same way...sure you can get wax cheaper online, but I don't mind paying a little more to get a box or two every so often from the local guy...and I always try to pick up a couple of auto's here and there he has in the display case, even though I can get them cheaper on eBay for a few dollars less...but, it's nice to hang out at the local shop and see what the other guys are pulling or hear about what they pulled...and to know that old Roger is going to be sick when he hears that you got the box he put back and pulled and Emmitt and Aikman Auto out of...lol...plus it's nice to run 5 min down the road and grab some screw downs or cases when you need them....it will be a sad day when this last local shop closes up if it ever happens.
I think a shop can remain open if the owner is smart and not too greedy. I have been witness to some really insane items walking into shops. Often times the store buys this stuff at great prices, but at the same time it's a small window of opportunity to resell. They ask too much and never more those items. They bust wax, pull great cards and let them get stale on the shelf.

A physical store needs to have some part of the internet business just to keep things moving. Heck, someone is Toronto may actually pay more for this GU or Auto'd Blue Jay than someone in Seattle or Chicago would! How many special serial numbered cards to you suppose are buried in shop inventory that might create wicked bidding ways? Jersey numbered cards or less common players that have rabid player collector bases. The possibilities are endless.

I would guess a lot of shops fail because they don't have the money to buy it all and don't try to focus or specialize in what they do carry, or they choose the wrong stuff.
I think it's doable too, but it would be wise to have another source of income. People talk about ebay, but ebay can be used to your advantage when it comes to your store. You can get some good deals and even do some consignment stuff with people who don't want to do it. You need to be creative, but it can be done. A site like the Bench helps to in getting regional cards for collectors. You have to have those loyal collectors who you can count on buying stuff weekly. The internet has certainly hurt many card stores, but can be used effectively in getting and turning over product too....just my two cents.
Myself and a friend of mine who also collects have been selling at local shows to more or less support our buying habits for the past year.Maybe you should try this first before taking the plunge.Get yourself a table top display case,put a few dollar boxes together with inserts and rookies(We have found people eat these up).We focus on the masses,people who are gonna bring maybe $20 to spend not the one or two whales who are big spenders.We have gotten to the point that we are looking hard at renting a booth such as an indoor type flea market and giving it a go on a part time basis.We are also considering buying a couple cases and reselling as well.I also just started selling on comc..I believe a shop can stand on its own if you have more to offer than sports cards such as gaming cards and internet sales.Also pack war nights ect.. also could boost sales.
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I wish you the best of luck, especially in this market. I just started up my own sports card business, but it is strictly online. By not paying rent, I cut down on my cost significantly and am able to sell singles at 30-40% of BV, as opposed to the 75% + of BV the local card shop sells for. If you do go with a brick and mortar, I agree that you need to have an internet presence. Good luck!
Here in So Cal we have a few Card shows on saturday and sundays. Why don't you start selling at a local show? To get your feet wet, so to speak. This way with a relitivly small investment you'll see if the business is right for ya.

There is a local card shop near here in Oxford,MA and it is great. The guy who runs it is very personable and knows a lot about cards. He puts a lot of stuff on Ebay. The REd Sox stuff he can turn over quickly in his shop but I have to agree with MrMopar (yet again) that you can make a lot more from people via the on line route. I go to the shop every couple of weeks and it is nice to spend a couple of hours with people talking about the hobby instead of sitting in front of a screen. I have heard about these trade nights but have never actually been to one or seen one advertised. And even flea markets are becoming a thing of the past. It seems to me that at the flea markets I have been to around here that people are so uninforemd as to what they have and what it is worth that stuff is very overpriced. So if you are going that route I would advise you to be very informed and has a Beckett or some form of information to show someone the actual prices of cards.
In some ways

This is a great time to open a card store.

The positives include:

There is a "glut" of available real estate so you should be able to get a decent location at a good price and lock in

The amount of "new" product is approaching a managable state; with only one manufacturer in baseball and basketball and just two in football and Panini and (perhaps) Upper Deck in Hockey. You will actually have breathing room for your products

There are more as well; and yes the negatives as well

I know a guy who runs a what I would call successful sports card business, using all three venues (online, card shows and store front). He basically explained it to me that he uses card shows to sell items that are "hot" and of local interest. The Internet (Ebay) to sell things that are not quite so popular in his local area. And the store front was basically for buying cards, especially larger collections and vintage.
He also claims a yellow page add is worth its price right now because as older people (who are often times not too Internet savy) are looking to sell cards they have been hoarding for many years they tend to use the traditional methds.
I only see him three (maybe four times) a year at local shows, but judging by how quickly his vintage singles turn over, that model must be working. It seems like everytime I wipe out a huge section on my wantllist of whatever vintage set I'm working. In two months I see him again and he has more.

Hope this helps,