A great new hobby store (and opening Bowman hobby box)

July 9, 2008 at 1:34 am | Posted in Hobby Stores, My Cards | 9 Comments

After getting back into the baseball card hobby earlier this year, I decided to look for hobby stores in my area. During my collecting heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were a plethora of hobby stores within driving distance of where I grew up in Rochester, New York. Today, however, there are far fewer hobby stores in business across the country. It’s probably due to the increase in people buying cards online at sites like eBay, combined with the general decline in the number of people collecting cards. In any case, I discovered that there were only a few hobby stores in the entire North Carolina Triangle metropolitan area, which Wikipedia tells me encompasses 1,635,974 people. (I’m hoping that David Price becomes resident number 1,635,975 when he gets called up from Montgomery to Durham later this summer!)

I checked out two local hobby stores a couple of months ago and came away unimpressed. One featured only a minimal selection of new wax, all of which was over-priced. It seemed to cater to the “World of Warcraft” card hobby, whatever that is. I did pick up a couple of cheap Carlos Pena and Jonny Gomes autographed cards and a box of new pages. The other store was in a mall and was a really more of a sports clothing store with some over-priced hobby boxes and packs for sale near the register. I didn’t buy anything there. I haven’t been back to either of these stores and I’ve been fueling my collection by buying from eBay, Beckett Marketplace, and Sportlots.

Then, just the other day, I found the Hobby Store Locator on the Topps web site. I was surprised to see that there was another hobby store located even closer to where I live than the other two. It’s called Cardiacs, and if you’re reading this and you happen to live in the Triangle (like chemgod), it’s located on Maynard Road in Cary, near the intersection with High House Road. Today after work, I stopped by to check it out. From the minute I walked into the store, I knew it was a quality place.

There’s a shelf behind the counter that is filled with hundreds of hobby boxes of baseball, football, basketball, and hockey cards. They even have some early 1990s boxes and some sets for sale, and some packs too. There are glass cases with lots of older singles and boxes with newer singles. I was very happy to see boxes filled with commons from recent sets. I’ll be going back with the list of 2007 Allen & Ginter and 2008 Upper Deck cards that I need to try to complete my sets. The owner was very friendly and outgoing and we spent a good amount of time talking about the hobby. I bought a Don Mattingly card, a few Rays cards, a rack pack of 1988 Score, and a 2008 Bowman hobby box, for which I only had to pay a few dollars above the typical eBay price (including shipping).

I’m thrilled that I’ve found a great hobby store near where I live, and surprised that I’d been avidly collecting for almost half a year without knowing about it. I know I’ll be back many times, and I’ll be sure to spend a decent amount of money there to try to keep it in business!

Here are the results from my Bowman hobby box:

Contents: 24 packs, 10 cards per pack, guaranteed 1 autographed prospect or rookie card

My hit was a Josh Smoker autographed refractor (#152/500). He was a first round pick by the Nationals last year. He’s got a great name for a pitcher, but it looks like he’s struggling so far in 2008. I’ll hold on to the card and hope that he lives up to his potential someday:

I also pulled the gimmick “Bowman Scout” autographed card. The idea of cards autographed by scouts is lame, and the idea of a mysterious “scout” character is lamer. I guess it’s a joke that someone working for Topps thinks is funny; maybe they’ll reveal the guy’s identity at some point. But who really cares:

Base cards: 116 out of 220, for a 52.7% completion rate with no duplicates. I bought a couple of Bowman blasters earlier, so I should have close to a full set.

Prospect cards: 48 out of 110. No duplicates.

Chrome prospect cards: 46 out of 110, but 9 duplicates, so only 37 unique cards.

Gold parallels: 16 base cards and 8 prospects. I love the Carl Crawford card in the new Rays blue, and Prince Fielder sporting some extra pounds:

2 blue parallels:
Austin Kearns (486/500):

Luke Hetherington (066/500):

1 orange parallel:
Mark Buehrle (077/250):

1 X-fractor:
Will Rhymes, who is unfortunately not related to Busta (141/275):

So there you have it. I think that Bowman is a decent product and fills the prospect card niche in the hobby. I still don’t understand why Upper Deck doesn’t try to capitalize on the demand for draft pick and prospect cards. I know that they had a set called Prospect Premieres in 2002 (which features B.J. Upton and Scott Kazmir rookies), but why don’t they have something like that now?

The base card design with the black borders is kind of boring, but I really like the look of the prospect cards with the blue and white borders. The Chrome, as you would expect, looks cool, and the refractor and X-fractor that I pulled are nice. The colored parallels are unexciting, but at least they don’t cram in too many of them. I’d say that the bottom line is that if you want to get some cards of prospects, then I’d highly recommend Bowman. If you don’t like getting cards of guys you haven’t heard of yet, spend your money on something else.


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  1. I moved away from the Triangle about five years ago, but if you’re looking for a good card store your best bet is Turn Two Collectibles on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh (just off the Beltline).

    If you’re willing to drive a little, there’s the Circle J on 258 in Kinston and J&J’s on 301 in Wilson.

    I highly recommend the Circle J, if only for the atmosphere. It’s a gas station/convenience store that happens to have a pretty decent card shop. Where else can fill up your tank, buy a six-pack of Natty Light, and fill out your ’87 Topps wantlist, all under the same roof?

  2. Thanks for the recommendations, Chris! Turn Two is a bit of a hike for me, but I’ll check it out sometime. I might be in Wilson sometime soon, so I’ll check out J&J’s. Never been to Kinston, but they do have a Carolina League team there, so maybe it’s worth a drive, with gas being so cheap these days ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Chris I agree with you on Circle J but I only hit it when my wife wants to truck down to the Smithfield outlets. I have given up on local shops altogether. Turn Two has the best selection, but they are outrageous price wise. I have only been to Cardiac’s once, and it was closed. They have very narrow business hours. The place I liked was Sports cards unlimited in Durham, but they went out of business. I think Sports Zone cards (the warcraft store) is good for supplies but she is high on prices.

    The Smoker card is great and I would love to work out a trade to get it.


  4. Glad to see someone else can pull Smoker–I’ve pulled three of his autos from Bowman so far this year (2 regular, 1 gold–sold the gold one to someone from down by his hometown).

  5. Mike, the owner of Cardiacs has a day job, so that’s why it’s only open in the evenings and on Saturdays. No idea why it’s not open on Sundays though. If you’re ever in Cary, it’s definitely worth checking out. I didn’t want to mention Sports Zone by name since I didn’t have anything nice to say about it ๐Ÿ™‚

    Let me know what you’d offer for the Smoker card. Do you have any Madison Bumgarner auto’s?

    I really do like Smoker’s name. If I were him, I’d have a tough time choosing between “Smokin'” by Boston and “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple as my warm-up song.

  6. Did you happen to pull any Logan Morrison by any chance? I need a couple of parallels of his base card.

  7. Mario, I only got a base card of “Hulk Logan” but I think you already have that…

  8. Darn. Thanks anyways! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I might open some Topps Chrome tomorrow. I’ll keep an eye out for Rays cards, if I do.

  9. If you open Topps Chrome, buy a blaster from Wal Mart and not a hobby box!

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