I am interrupting tonight’s scheduled post about the 2013 MLB Tournament Prizes to announce that my Local Card Shop is dead.
I had to run to the post office during lunch today, and just around the corner is my Local Card Shop. Having some free time, I dropped in and was immediately taken aback. There were people in the shop. A lot of people…I counted five. The store was packed!
I waved at the co-owner and she waved back since she was on the phone. I surveyed the crowd again and wondered what was happening. Is the 2013 Topps release that popular? Maybe, I thought. Then I saw one of the men had a camera. Odd.
I glanced at another man and he had a measuring tape. Strange. A third man caught my eye because he was pointing around the room and talking on the phone in Arabic. Surreal.
The co-owner put down the phone and said to one gentleman, “No, I need the register until next week.” Then it dawned on me, my Local Card Shop was dying. “$50,” hollered one guy while pointing at the display case. The co-owner bowed her head, seemingly studying her shoes, and then she acquiesced, “Alright,” she mumbled.
This is a nightmare, I thought. I stood by the singles box, fingering the stacks in a daze, half-heartedly searching for a 1987 Topps Eric Davis to complete my set. Before long, the co-owner was in front of me. “I guess you figured out we’re going out of business,” she said. I looked at her, and she had a tear in her eye. Oh, no. “Yes, I gathered as much,” I mumbled, motioning at the kettle of vultures.
“He got a full-time job,” she said referring to the other co-owner, “An extra dollar and a quarter an hour.” “That’s great!,” I replied while thinking that wasn’t much, not near enough to cover the loss of the store. She was called away to succumb to another insulting offer.
A few minutes later, she came back to me and said she’d miss my monthly visits. From 2004 until last year, I worked one block away from the shop. I’d stop by once a month, mainly just to talk cards with the owners and sometimes I’d buy a pack, or a couple Gwynn singles.
We made more small talk, knowing this was the end, until the moment teetered on uncomfortable. She put up her index finger and walked away. She came back with three empty 3,200 count boxes. “Here,” she said, handing me the boxes. “Fill them up with whatever you want, and I’ll charge you $10 a box.”
“Go on,” she prodded, “We’ve got to get rid of the cards, and I would rather you get what you want,” while she eyed the vultures. Hesitantly I took a box and stood there like a confused puppy. “Anything I want?” I asked. “Anything,” she said.
I spent the rest of my lunch hour completely overwhelmed. I thumbed through countless boxes, and eventually filled all three 3,200 count boxes to the gills. I could have been more thorough, I could have been greedy, but I just went for what I needed to complete sets.
“Is that all you need?” she asked, as I left the store for the last time. “It’s more than I could have hoped for,” I said. As I was getting into my car, I heard the familiar chime on the shop's door, looked up and saw the co-owner coming out. “Here you go,” she said, “I think you needed this.”
She handed me a 1987 Topps Eric Davis.