I was watching a recent episode of Comic Book Men, a television show based on Kevin Smith’s podcast and his comic book shop Jay And Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Red Bank, New Jersey. During the cast Kevin talks with the staff about customers and anecdotes and one story that was brought up was about a customer looking for a specific book and how he talked about wanting to come in to the shop instead of buying it online because of the thrill of the chase and it got me thinking about how our hobby has changed greatly with the advent of the internet.
When I got back in to collecting in 1992 I was living in an area where there were 7 card shops within a 15-minute drive in Mesa alone. On top of that there was a monthly cards shows at the local community rec center along with the random card shows that would come around every couple of months at the malls or a church. We had our choice of where to go and who to buy from but nearly 25 years later and there is only one of those 7 shops that were in Mesa that is still open additionally, there is one more shop in Tempe and two in Scottsdale. This means there are a total of four shops in the East Valley, which has a population of 1,350,488 (this includes Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler and Gilbert) or one shop per 337,622 people.
As a card collector many of us have lost the ability of chasing cards at brick and mortar shops. I am about halfway between the shop in Mesa and the shop in Tempe, each being about a 30-minute drive in good traffic. I would love to head to the LCS to pull singles from a dime box or pick up the newest release but that option is just not as viable any more outside of the occasional planned trip.
I have come to the acceptance that my chase will almost completely be limited to online.