How many card shops have you been to? I remember hitting up three or four during my childhood in San Diego, then one more in my wife's hometown that I hit occasionally when we go back to SD to visit, and two since living in Texas. Is that a large or a small number for a collector?
Well, a few months ago, I was running a Craigslist errand up to Dallas (we got a very nice, clean, free couch, just had to drive two and a half hours away to pick it up), and on the way back down, I was able to track one down in Plano, TX called "Triple Cards". Man, this place was awesome. If you can't tell, the wall of red and blue are boxes of singles labeled by set and year. It's a set builder's paradise. Incredible selection.
Unfortunately, I hadn't been planning on going to a card shop, so I was underprepared, and I'm not a set builder in any set of the word (well, at least since I finished the '91 Fleer set), but I remembered that I was trying to get all the "Masked Marauders" cards from '98 Collector's Choice, and I snagged this Javy Lopez to get me to within ONE of the group of nine cards. The ninth one is Ivan Rodriguez, and this being the middle of Rangers country, I wasn't surprised that it was already gone.
While I was trotting around, a pair of older guys and I were chatting and seeing my brown Padres hat, asked if I was a San Diego fan. I said that I was, and he gifted me this James Shields card that he had just pulled from a pack of 2016 Donruss. Shields has already been traded and didn't leave on great terms, but I'll hang onto this card as a memory of my first trip here.
Even though my collection is Padre-dominated, since this was a legit card shop and had great deals on vintage, I had to browse around and pick up some fun stuff, even if it wasn't necessarily in my wheelhouse. Here's a handful of '75 Topps minis. Always fun to add to my Harper and Foster connections (the names of my two oldest kids), and this is my first Spaceman Lee card as well.
I decided to get another Spaceman card as well, as my fingers fluttered over to the row of '71 Topps cards, my favorite Topps set. I already had the Gaston, but it's a slight upgrade for ten cents, and the horribly printed Twins rookie card was a must. Jerry Grote is a Texas kid (or was, I guess, he is no spring chicken these days), so I figured it'd be good karma to pick this one up as well. None of these cards were more than 75 cents, and most were less than a quarter.
Still, despite some fun pick ups, I was feeling that my trip was still lacking a big score. I wandered around the store and was just about to leave, until I saw a rack full of binders. In my limited experience, those were usually sets or inserts, and a little pricier than others, so I didn't give them much of a look, when I caught something out of my peripheral:
The name "Tony Gwynn".
I stepped back and picked it up, and lo and behold, it was a three inch binder FULL of Tony Gwynn cards!
I gave the guys in the shop a bit of grief for knowing that I was a Padres fan and not immediately directing me to this binder, but they said that most people don't look at those cards, they were mostly stars from the 80s and 90s that had been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Well, I am not most people!
Despite the hugeness of the binder, there weren't a ton of cards I didn't already have. However, it was still a pretty good haul.
These were probably the two least attractive cards, either from a design standpoint (seriously, what is happening with this "Hit List" insert on the left?) or a photo standpoint. Still, I needed 'em.
These were looking much better to my eyes. I forgot what 90's Bowman designs looked like, and this one on the left shows a Spring Training shot with a Rickey Henderson cameo in the background. Very classic looking pose in this Upper Deck Retro set.
Metal Universe usually has better photos than this, but I'll take a card of Tony signing autographs any day. I LOVED finding this Collect-A-Books uh… booklet. I really should've opened it up to scan it, maybe I'll have to do that for a later post.
Here's a pair of similar photographs. I remember thinking that as soon as I put that Pinnacle Certified card in my binder that I'd take that "protective tape" off, but I don't think I have yet.
Here's the last of the Gwynn's, my favorites. I was never really a fan of the Studio brand as a kid, but I appreciate it more that my cardboard taste has been refined. And for whatever reason, I like getting Gwynn checklists. It's like a bonus Gwynn card that the companies tossed my way, even though they could've gone with another player from a more popular/better team.
Anyways, maybe Procopio's in Poway was a better shop than this one, but I was a kid and it's long closed down now, so my recency bias allows me to proclaim Triple Cards the best card shop I've ever been to.
Cheap vintage singles?
Binder full of Tony Gwynn cards?
There are other card shops in the Dallas area that are also supposed to be pretty good, but if I'm up that way again, it'd be hard for me to pass up another stop here.