Thursday, September 10, 2009

Almost Had a PACKcident!

Well, that was a close call.

Very close.

I haven't opened a pack of cards in about a year - but for some reason I was VERY tempted to pick up a bunch of packs this afternoon at the convenience store... nothing wrong with that, I suppose.

... but I was not being tempted by packs of SP Authentic or tins of The Cup... we're talking $2 packs of 07/8 O-Pee-Chee.

Thankfully, common sense kicked in before it was too late... I had 8 packs picked out... then realized I could buy almost any card I could hope to pull for much less. I then made the realization that I have completely lost my sense of adventure as far as the hobby is concerned. I don't open packs, I don't even splurge on a sealed case of an older product, assuring me several quality hits... I don't even wait for EBay auctions to end anymore before sending my best offer to a seller!

Not much hobby insight there, just an occurrence that shows how times have changed... years ago I would have opted to open a handful of packs instead of buying a high-end single!

What is all the fuss about ITG 1972? I understand, the set allows a certain pocket of collectors to revisit their roots and relive memories of the Summit Series (which countless documentaries, news reports, articles, countdowns and even other card sets have already done), but there is very little originality involved. The design for the main set is great... at least it WAS great when it was originally concieved 37 years ago.

The design of the autograph and game-used cards, once again, look like any other ITG issue made in the past several years - old pictures and little tiny pieces of memorabilia (granted some of that memorabilia is of very cool vintage origin). From what I have seen, the checklist is obscure and many players are making their first appearance on a card since their playing days. I understand how that may resonate well with a select few, but it alienates the vast majority of collectors. I see no reason for anyone born after 1980 to touch a pack of ITG 1972, and that's a stretch, because how many 20 year old collectors would take a concious interest in players who starred a decade before they were born?

I don't understand the appeal... are the good folks at ITG finally running out of ideas? I guess there are only so many ways to make use of the same mugshots that have been in print for years. It is the lack of new, novel ideas that has driven me away from ITG, not their lack of a licensing agreement with the NHL.

Two positives about the product that cannot be ignored: Hard signed autographs and NO SLABS!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hobby Shops - Show & Tell or Buy & Sell?

Summer is winding down, so like many collectors out there, I have had the luxury of a few days and afternoons off over the past couple of weeks - it hit me that taking some time now is preferable to having two weeks off in November, when I'll have daily piles of snow to look forward to.

Being a cardboard addict, I decided to go on a quest to find a great hobby shop to frequent. Being mostly a player and team collector of high-end singles, it is great when people in the know are aware of which cards you're looking for, so networking and making connections is vitally important.

I set out to visit several shops to the north of the GTA, and discovered a very disturbing and dissatisfying trend: those with the authority to make trades and negotiate on prices were not at their shops. Of course there were employees present in their place, but they had little knowledge of what was in the display cases and their prices, being forced to call their employers to find out.

I was shocked when at all three establishments, I was told that I "should have called before coming in". Excuse me? "If you would like to come into our shop to do real business (bargaining, package deals and trades), please call us to make sure that is a possibility." Sounds like a great way to connect with potential new customers.

I am now asking myself why any of the shops that I visited were open at all if their proprietors were not available - while it was nice to walk in to a shop and look at some nice cards, it was disheartening to hear that if I wanted to acquire one of them, I would have to pay an inflated sticker price, no questions asked. To make matters worse, I discovered that in one shop, Beckett pricing was gospel.

Most frustrating of all was the fact that one shop in particular claimed to be in possession of a card I was very interested in, as it was pictured on their homepage. I walked in and asked the clerk where it was, going as far as telling him that I did not want to leave empty handed. A good businessman would have sensed an easy sale, but this one did not have any idea which card I was referring to. When a first-time visitor to a card shop has a better grasp of your inventory than the staff, something isn't right... so again, I was told that the item must not be in the shop, or that it may have been moved. I received no response when I asked why a card no longer in the shop's possession would be in a feature display on their homepage.

I'm sure that some hobby shops are great places for collectors of all ages to go and talk hobby and just hang out... but you'd better call first! I'll stick to EBay.