Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Night Mall Show: The Whiny Slob

TGIF, freinds!  Hope everyone had a great week; now bring on the weekend!

I put a fitting cap on the week by trekking up to Concord Mall in northern New Castle County, Del. for a sports card and memorabilia show.  Concord has one of these shows maybe three or four times a year, and it's usually a decent spread.  Mrs. K came along because, well, it's the mall.  Plus I bribed her with the promise of a nice dinner afterwards.  She's an easy sell, that's why she married me.

Well, there wasn't a great assortment of dealers this time around.  Mostly guys hawking impossibly expensive vintage cards or autographed football helmets.  I guess because it was the first day/evening of the show that most of the bigger vendors weren't camped out yet.

My first stop was the 'camp' of a guy whose boxes and cases were a complete mess.  He's a regular at many of the shows in the Delaware/Philly/South Jersey area, and I normally avoid him because, in addition to being an OCD nightmare, his stuff is way overpriced.  But, I'm still trying to finish my Series 2 and Heritage sets, and he had a big box of singles.  So, I stopped.

The first red flag was the response he gave to my inquiry, "How much for your singles?"  He gave some vague answer of taking 50% off the book.

Ugh.  Dude, we're talking about singles -- mostly commons -- of Series 2 Topps.  C'mon now.

Whatever, I figured he couldn't be that stingy.  So I started to flip through the box, plucking out cards as I referenced my checklist.  But, I began to wonder about that stinginess when a young man picked up a plastic Baltimore Ravens cup that was on display and asked, "How much, sir?"

The answer?  "Five dollars.  It's plastic, dish washer safe.  Top rack."

Oh boy.

I figured I ought to cut my stay short, and handed over a stack of approximately 20 cards.  Most of them commons.  Only three Series 2 cards (they were not in numerical order and I wasn't about to spend more than 10 minutes going through his cardboard pigpen), which were each "star" cards.  Pujols, Ichiro and Jeter.   And about 15 Heritage cards, 90% of which were non-stars.

I told myself, "Self, if he says five bucks or below, he's got a deal.  Anything above that and he's lost."

Then, again to myself, "Shoot, if the dish-washer safe Ravens cup was five bucks..."

He shuffled through the cards, finally pronouncing with smug satisfaction, "Seven bucks."

I made a face, and suddenly he got defensive.  Some gibberish about the Jeter card alone "booking" for $1.50. And how it would be criminal to go below a quarter per Heritage card.  After referencing the Beckett values two or three more times, I had heard enough.  I told him that I wasn't really interested in the book values.

Big mistake.  I then got a sermon on how the "rent in the mall" keeps going up, and that he can't afford to just give the cards away.  Basically, he was looking for sympathy because, well, someone was holding a gun to his head forcing him to be a baseball card dealer.  This is the same guy, mind you, who was probably laughing all the way to the bank in the early '90s ripping kids off by selling 1988 Chris Sabo cards for 10 bucks.  He concluded his speech by guaranteeing that those folks selling cards for a dime a pop were the same sellers who would simply disappear after a year or two.

Sigh.  As the kids say, SMH.

If I wasn't such a putz, I would've just put all the cards down and walked away.  But, I really wanted the Heritage cards and wasn't sure I would find any more dime tables at the show since pickins were so slim.  Thus, I gave in and bought 20 cards for a quarter per.  I left the super-valuable trio of Series 2 cards for someone more grateful and deserving.

I'm a man of principle as long as confrontation isn't involved, what can I say?

Five minutes afterwards, I was at a table of another long-time vendor who keeps a nice, neat table.  He had dime boxes of all the 2012 Topps products (in tidy, numerical order, might I add).  I felt like going back to the slob's location and dragging him by the nose 50 feet to this table.  But, I was just happy to find some Heritage satisfaction.  

Final tabulation of Topps Series 2 cards purchased between Mr. Slob and Mr. Clean: a whopping two. Two!!  Which leaves me still 14 shy of the complete set.  The biggest problem is the fact that I'm mostly missing Phillies players.  Since I'm in Philly territory, all those cards are pulled and put into separate Phillies boxes which I refuse to search through.  Furthermore, they're priced as if they're all short prints.  I'm not paying a dollar for a Carlos Ruiz base card, sorry cuz.

Final tabulation of 2012 Heritage between Pigpen and Adrian Monk: a robust 37.  That's more like it!  Just 31 more cards and I can cross the base set off my Wanted list.

Some of my 2012 Heritage pickups

Now, I don't want you to think Mr. Slob ruined the evening for me.  On the contrary, it was a GREAT show!  After I filled my Heritage quota, I came across an amazing box of vintage Topps football at another seller's table.  I can't wait to share some of those purchases with you in my next post.  I don't want to spoil anything, but I will just say that I picked up a card of a former great Colts quarterback whose name isn't Peyton.  Who could it be? Jim Harbaugh?  Jack Trudeau?  Jeff George?

Oh!  Also, I came across the first-ever nickel box (at least in my experiences).  You know, it's kind of like a dime box, except you only have to give them a nickel per card.  And it was all the 2012 football brands.  I could have spent a half hour or more easily at that table, but I was getting the stink eye from Mrs. K, who had already been told three times in a 15 minutes span that I was "almost done."  Thus, in fairness, I spent just five minutes hunting.  Plenty of time to get my dollar's worth!  I'll share my purchases from said box next time around.

Enjoy your weekend, and I'll be back with you soon!



  1. I have some set help for you. Drop me your address and I will send these your way:

    2012 TOPPS SERIES 2
    Base: 331, 353, 537, 614, 637, 641
    A Cut Above:  8, 20, 23
    Gold Futures:  36, 45

    2012 HERITAGE
    Base: 48, 135, 136, 169, 171, 253, 346, 407,
    Short Print: 462

  2. That story pretty much sums up why I almost never look through cards without prices. I hate to put stuff back. Plus, I never want to hear the "book value" sermon.

    Glad you were able to knock out a few of your 2012 needs, though! Gotta love the nickel boxes as well, those are pretty rare in this hobby.

  3. Oh boy, I've met Mr. Slobs before. Luckily, there are so many more Cleans and Nices out there. Thanks God. Hell, if I even see a table with cards that aren't priced and a Beckett anywhere nearby, I don't even stop.