I was in Toledo, Ohio today. There is a card shop Called The Bullpen. I first stumbled upon this place a couple of years ago. I could not believe what I had found. While the owner was looking for a few cards for me, I snuck in some camera phone pictures.
This first picture is immediately to the left when you first walk through the door. There is a narrow path that leads to a massive pile of boxes. Behind the first wall is a counter top stacked with boxes. Behind that, way in the background, is the wall of the store, it is piled to the ceiling with boxes.
The next photo is looking towards the front window of the store. That stack boxes you see is about 10 feet tall. I really have no idea how the owner got that stuff piled so high. I was afraid to touch anything for fear that I would either; A) knock it over, or B) kick up some X-Files-ish mutant 50 year old baseball card spores.
This is a shot of the main display case at the back of the shop. The stacks of boxes are piled onto the glass cases. Between the boxes are little piles of cards. The shelves on the wall hold tons of boxes of wax from all era's. Amazingly, the guy has some recent releases.
As I entered, I saw the owners Mom sitting behind the counter. She was watching a movie on a little TV. "Hi, can I help you?", she said.
"No, I just wanted to take a look around, if that's OK. Thanks.", I replied. "Got any specials today?"
"All our singles are 50% off", she muttered as her attention returned to Cannonball Run.
I saw a shoebox on the counter. It had a bunch of 75 Topps in it. I started sifting. There were also some early 70's cards there... nothing priced.
"How do I know how much these are selling for?", I quizzed.
"I will have to look them up for you."
"You mean, you will look in the Beckett for the prices? Which column do you use?
"We use the column on the right, and then discount it 50%."
At this point, I figured I didn't have 2 hours for her to flip through a Beckett, so just took the next 10 minutes or so and looked around a bit more.
There had been a guy sifting through a 5000 count box of football cards over in the corner. He looked to be in his 60's. He had grayish hair combed straight back. He sported a flannel shirt tucked in tight to his one size too small jeans. He gave me a quick glance when I first came in, and nothing else. I decided to strike up a conversation with him.
"Hey, you finding any treasures in there?" I asked.
"I always find good stuff here.", he replied without pausing his search.
"You a football collector?", I prodded.
"I collect everything. This is my place."
You know that scene in Fight Club when it dawns on Jack that Tyler Durden is a figment of his imagination? The camera sort of pulls back and everything gets tunnel visioned? That's how I felt.
"Wow! You gotta lot of stuff here.", I gulped out.
"I figure I have 28 million cards, or there abouts. You looking for anything in particular?"
Quickly trying to think of something for him to find in this place, I came up with; "Well, I was thinking about some of those 1968 Topps game cards. Ya know, the ones with Pop-Out, Single..."
He puts down the football cards he was looking at, and wanders behind the counter. I hear him grumbling something about getting more organized someday.
"I knew I had some back here somewhere!", he exclaims.
He hands me a small stack, about twenty of them.
"Thanks, you certainly have a bit of everything here don't you?", I brown nose.
He goes on to tell me that he has been buying collections for decades. Once, he bought a collection that was delivered by truck. It had NINE SKIDS OF CARDS ON IT!
I could have spent hours in there. My mind was racing. I left without buying anything. Maybe next time I will buy the Billy Ripken F*#k Face card that he had priced for $20 bucks. I could have got it for $10...it was on special.