I've lost a lot of LCS near me in the NW suburbs of Chicago during the last 20 years. It's hard seeing a shop shutter its doors, especially when the owner is "one of the good ones." But sometimes a store closing is a mercy. The absolute worst is watching an old-timer that loves, respects and collects sports cards himself - the type who grew up collecting cards as a kid and never lost the passion - try to keep their store open by selling Pokemon or Magic the Gathering cards to a new generation. They usually hate the product, are not too fond of the clientele, and stand miserably behind the counter at Saturday in-store tournaments. You talk to them about baseball and they get a small glint in their eye, but then lament that it used to be 90% sports and 10% entertainment sales, but now is flipped 80% entertainment and 20% sports - if they're lucky. It kills me to know these guys have to sell Pikachu or whatever crap to keep the doors marginally open, when I know deep inside it's killing them.
Like other's have said, support your LCS or lose them. I sure miss mine.
Card shops need to start selling online as well. What kills them is the prices as you will pay more there than you do online. What hurts them for me is I only collect 90ís cards and they normally have mostly new cards. Internet is hurting business for them just like Amazon is hurting stores, didnít Sears close shop because of online stores like Amazon who you can get the same items for half the price and itís delivered to you.
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[MENTION=1802]Pinbreaker[/MENTION], I met Brian today. Seems like a nice guy. Love all the old Seattle posters he has up in the place. A little too far for me to travel just because, but if I am in the area and have time, I would stop again. He might benefit from having more stuff out in cases or shelves, but he probably knows his clientele well enough to know what needs to be displayed.
As far as shops needing to compete with online businesses, that is true. However, online includes shipping costs on top of the purchase price and that can add up fast, plus it can and mostly is impersonal. If a shop can come close to online wax pricing and offer incentive (convenience, selection, no wait, personal interaction, frequent buyer bonuses, etc) for people to show up to the shop, they can win a fair chunk of business.
I asked Brian today about his gaming section, as it seems to exist in nearly all sportscard shops these days and sounds like it really needs to be there for most. He said it was not a huge part of his business, but it definitely helps him keep the doors open. Still, it seems he has a strong sports wax business to carry most of the weight. I know I would probably be one of those old schoolers who would try my best to resist the other non-sports stuff, mainly because I have zero interest in it. However, if it makes you money at some point, you almost have to cave in on just about anything (Beanies, Funko, Bobbles, SLUs, Pokemon, etc) if you are a physical retail business in order to keep the doors open.