Monday, March 11, 2013
Longing for a LCS
One thing I long for is a local card shop. The ‘ol LCS. It seems that these are rarer and rarer these days, as it’s tough for owners to turn a profit or even break even. I get it. I live in a small city – Hoboken, NJ – with a great strip of bars, restaurants, clothing stores, and mom’n’pop businesses. There are fourteen consecutive blocks of retail, yet no place to buy cards.
If I want cards, I need to take a drive to Jersey City and hit up the Target. Luckily, it’s only about two miles from where I live, and with a young child, we find ourselves needing to make Target runs frequently. However, there is no place to just go and browse, pick up supplies, and have conversations with other geeky nerds who like cards.
Growing up in Binghamton, NY, I had three local card shops at various points of my childhood. The first was called Valley Forge cards in nearby Johnson City. It was a quick drive from my parent’s house. This was the first time I was really exposed to cards that were different from 1987 and 1988 Topps. They had singles for sale in the glass display case, and I knew these cards were more special than the ones in my wax packs.
For Christmas in fourth grade, Santa stuffed my stocking with packs of every sort of basketball card imaginable. I was hugely into NBA at this time, but hadn’t collected NBA cards. That changed when I spent my Christmas morning ripping packs of NBA cards. My mom had gotten the cards from the local card shop on Main Street called Hardin’s Cards (it may have been “Harden’s”, I can’t remember). I got a few bucks that Christmas, and went back to Hardin’s and bought more packs.
Throughout the next few years, my mom would drop me off at Hardin’s for 20 minutes while she did an errand. I’d buy mostly basketball cards while browsing the display cases. Sadly, they went out of business.
Next up was Ed’s House of Cards, which was right down the road from Hardin’s on Main Street. It was right across from the local high school, which wasn’t in the greatest area of town. Plus, the card shop had a drink cooler and candy/chips, so a lot of students would pop in. To say the least, it wasn’t the safest place for me to hang out, but it was a good old fashioned shop with packs, singles, and discount packs. One could even buy a $.25 gumball from a big machine, and if you got a white gumball, you could pick a free pack from a bin.
Eventually, Ed’s House of Cards moved locations, and was about a 20-minute drive. As a 13-14 year old, it might as well have been 100 miles away. I only remember going there twice after the relocation, and both times it was to buy a box of cards. Once, with my 8th grade graduation money, I went in and bought a box of 1998 Stadium Club baseball cards. I felt like a high roller. By the time I was old enough to drive, the shop was gone.
I then attended college in Syarcuse, and while there may have been an LCS around, I was too cool to collect cards then. I collected stamps on my “Beer Passport” at Faegan’s. I collected beer bottle caps that I one day decorated a table with. I collected hickeys from cheerleaders. Heeeeyyyyyyooooo!
When I landed my first job in NYC, I moved to the Upper East Side. There was, in fact, a LCS very close to my apartment. I don’t really want to rehash that experience, but if you’re looking to read it, here it is. Don’t forget to read the comments, as the owner of the shop chimed in. Worth your time, I assure you.
Life then brought me to present location, Hoboken, NJ, and despite a population of 50,000, still has a small town feel. It is deep in its baseball roots (first office baseball game was held in Hoboken...check out www.hobokenbaseball.com for a history lesson), and every pizzeria in town has signed photos of past ball players who have eaten there. However, one thing it lacks, and the one thing I want most, is a place to buy cards and talk shop.