In my neck of the woods, there are no local card shops, unless local mean about at least a 40 mile drive. I don't consider that to be local, so I've use the internet as my LCS. Because of the distance, I think I can escape the guilt that some in the hobby try to lay on those who don't buy from their local card shops.
I spent a couple days over Thanksgiving at my parents house in the SW Chicago burbs. There is a card shop only a couple miles from their house, and Steve at White Sox Cards has said good things about it, so I thought I would check out the place.
Specifically, I was going to be looking for cards that the Cubs handed out at Wrigley Field in 2002. In this post I wrote about the 2001 giveaway cards and mentioned that I would be on the hunt for the '02s and '03s. I was able to come up all of the '03s and seven of the eleven '02s from my usual on-line sources. I figured that a shop in the Chicago area might be an excellent place to look for the missing four '02s. So I was pretty excited to be able to set foot in an actual card shop.
The plan was to head there on Friday. The shop I was heading to has no online presence (disappointment #1; how can a shop survive today with no website? Apparently you can't, because it turns out that there is a For Sale By Owner sign in the shop window), so I was unsure of their hours. I slept in a bit and then figured I would get to the place a little after 10:00, which I did. That led to disappointment #2.....the store was closed. They opened at 11. I turned around and went back to the folks'.
We had other plans for the middle of the day, so I didn't return to the shop until about 3:00 p.m . When I walked in I saw the same guy I see in every card shop. You know him-- the overweight guy with greasy hair who talks about everything but doesn't really know much about anything. He also doesn't seem to have a job, other than hanging around the card shop.
I milled around a little while until I was able to grab the attention of the guy behind the counter away from the fat guy. I told him what I was looking for, cards that the Cubs gave away at Wrigley Field in 2002. I expected him to say something like, "Sure, let me go in the back and see what I've got." Instead, I just got disappointment #3, a completely blank stare. He had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. He muttered something about the All Century team set (which was given away in 1999). I said no, and repeated about the cards given away at Wrigley in '02.
He pointed at a quarter-a-card box of Cubs on the opposite counter and said I could look through it. I humored him and rummaged through it, but of course, the cards weren't in a box of early '90s junk.
I told him, nope, not in there, but thanks anyway, and headed out of the store. What a bust! Maybe if the shop was on the north side, I would have had better luck. But still, this was in Chicago, so wouldn't you think the guy would at least have had an inkling about these cards?
I got back into the car and headed back. Along the way, while waiting at a stop light, I noticed a card shop shop on the other side of the street. This was less than a mile away from the parents' house. Turns out the place just opened and my folks never noticed it before. Well, maybe my luck was changing! I crossed the street, parked the car and headed in.
This place was empty except for the guy working there. I guess they haven't had time to get a fat guy regular yet. The worker greeted me and I explained what I was looking for. He then greeted me with another blank look. Disappointment #4! He too had no idea what I was talking about. The best he could do was say that they might have the cards at their other store, which was in another suburb over 30 miles away. That wasn't going to do me any good. I thanked him for his time and left the store.
Two local card shops, two uninformed workers, too bad for me.
And if of you happen to be in your LCS, do me a favor and check and see if they have any of these four:
Dave Kingman, a 1979 replica, given away on July 25, 2002
Lee Smith, a 1984 replica, given away on September 28, 2002
Billy Williams, a 1961 replica given away on June 19, 2002
Don Cardwell, a 1961 replica, given away on May 7, 2002
I've never seen an actual copy of these four, though the Kingman card should look something like this:
...a replica of the 1979 card with
a special 2002 Wrigley Field label added ( I just guessed where the Wrigley label would go).
And if the shop owner gives you a blank look, check with the fat guy. Maybe he has a line on the cards!