card shop

Small Changes In A Card Shop Can Make A Huge Difference – An Example

If you’ve read my website before, you’ve likely read “Where Have You Gone, Card Shop?”  If you haven’t, I talk about things that hurt a card shop, both external and internal factors.  It’s one of the most visited pages on this website.

This morning I was watching YouTube videos and came across one from yesterday of a visit to a card shop and then a show.  It’s a small world, as the card shop is in Carnegie, PA and I lived there from 2003-2006.

Many of us have the fantasy of running a card shop, I believe.  I know that I do.  If I won the lottery and money wasn’t a concern, I’d look to be in business as quickly as possible.  How is it that some do it, but then don’t put in maximum effort?

I admit, I’ve been in messier shops than this and have purchased from them.  At the end of the day, it’s about the product and price.  However, I still don’t understand how a business owner doesn’t find this a bad thing.

What I Would Do Differently If This Was My Card Shop

First and foremost, the shop is a mess.  There’s no way that all of that trash was from just one day.  I’m sorry, but in any respectable business the trash is taken out daily.

The store looks to be in a strip center, which should have dumpsters outside.  If there’s not, take the trash home with you.  Or, at bare minimum, shove the trash into those boxes and close them!

Holy cow, all of those cards on the display case!  What the heck?  There is plenty of room in that shop that they could invest in a few more tables and use those to sort, or whatevertheheck they were doing with those cards.

Speaking of all that empty space, why not invest in some tables and place out some dime boxes?  You can’t tell me that the owner doesn’t have dozens of 3200 or 5000 count boxes full of cards that he’d love to get rid of.  A few tables, some chairs and those boxes is as low maintenance as making money could be.

I’ve been in some card shops in my day and I know the the guys going in looking for “hits” don’t care about cards that they can’t get more than $5-10 out of.  They likely leave the cards there.  I’ve seen it plenty of times.  If someone leaves them, just put them into dime boxes and don’t worry about the $1-5 cards.  Make it a treasure hunt where people WANT to sit down and dig into those boxes for hours.  Not every shop has the luxury of space to do this.  Make use of your space and maximize what you can bring in.  You can then invest it back into your business.

Competition (mostly the interwebz) means that a card shop need to make every dollar they can.  One great thing about our hobby is that there are so many ways to collect.  However, this means that a card shop can’t possibly serve every type of collector.  They should strive to serve as many as they can.  Not every collector cares about dime boxes, but a lot do.  Thumbing through thousands of cards is a great way to get your mind off the worries of the world.  Many of us know this.

One last thing I saw that got to me was all of those sets and bobbleheads/figures.  It’s not that the shop had them, it’s that I didn’t see prices on them.  If I just missed that, I apologize.  Personally, I’d invest the $10 at the local Walmart in some small sticky notes and a sharpie and make those prices scream “BUY ME!”

It’s Not All Bad

I don’t want to beat down on a shop owner.  I also don’t want any card shop to fail.  The more there are, the more visible the hobby is and hopefully more sports fans that we can pull into this sickness we call collecting.  I would like every shop to have the traffic that Indy Card Exchange gets.

card shop
Indy Card Exchange – Indianapolis, IN

Watching the video, there were a lot of nice singles in the shop that I’d be interested in.  It also appears he carries multiple sports, since I did see some hockey in a display case.  According to the video, he also had very fair prices on his product.

All of these are things that many shops don’t do.  He’s already well ahead of the game and I feel this gives him a great opportunity to succeed, which we all should want.  I would prefer to support my local card shop over buying on the internet, all other things equal.

Also, the owner seems very personable, unlike many other shop owners and even exhibitors at card shows.  He appears very friendly and genuine to me, even considering that he may be uncomfortable with someone just walking in with a camera attached to their hat.

You can’t teach price and personality.  He seems ahead of most in those two key (and to me most important) departments.  Just some small changes could go a long way.

There are also some things that don’t look good with the walls, etc. but he mentioned that he’s moving down the road in a month, so I’m not going to fault him for that.  I hope that location has a better look to it.  I wish him all the success, it is nothing but good for the hobby.

I’d love to read what y’all think, whether it’s about this shop or another one that you’ve been to.  What other recommendations might you have for this shop?  I’m not looking to bury anyone, I’m looking for constructive criticism and things that are FEASIBLE for a card shop owner to fix or do better.

If you shop online and haven’t signed up and used ebates yet, you’re missing out on FREE MONEY.  I also use it on eBay to get money back from purchases there.  Between referrals and cash back, I’ve gotten over $300 since I joined in October 2016 between purchases and referrals.  FREE CARDS!



  1. “You can’t tell me that the owner doesn’t have dozens of 3200 or 5000 count boxes full of cards that he’d love to get rid of. A few tables, some chairs and those boxes is as low maintenance as making money could be.” I wish more card shop owners did this.

  2. Back in the late 90’s, I worked at a card shop who pretty much survived on five or six guys who busted tons of wax. They’d come in, start pointing at different boxes, and would rip for 30 to 60 minutes straight in search of big hits. Most would leave the base (commons, stars, and rookies) and lowend inserts. So my boss did exactly what you said and took all of the stuff they left and threw it in dime and quarter bins. He’d also make grab bags and sell them for a buck with the cards. Good times.

    P.S. I could never work at the shop in the video. My OCD would kick in and I’d probably have a meltdown 🙂

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a shot with a dime box. I guess most shops think it’s not worth their time/space, but I think many might be surprised on how well they’d do. Like Fuji said, just take the excess from busting a few boxes and put them in a dime box. Pretty simple.

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