These days there are plenty of places for you to get your sports card and trading card fix. From online auction sites like eBay, to big box retail stores like Target and Walmart, but there’s still nothing like your local card shop near you.
A True local card shop allows you to peruse vintage cards for sale, discover boxes and packs of new offerings, and even find related collectibles or memorabilia you might be interested in. Sharing your collecting experience and developing a relationship with other collectors and card dealers is a great experience.
Find Sports Card Shops Near Me – Use Locator Below
What Will I Find at My Local Trading Card Shop?
Your local card shop will usually have a plethora of things for purchase such as sports trading cards and other trading cards, vintage items, collectible figurines and posters, comic books and graphic novels, games, and many other unique items. Because of how many different things they sell, you can expect it to feel disorganized and overwhelming. Some items are more easily organized like sports or collectible card packs and retail boxes, or vintage and other special cards in plastic sheets. Other collectibles like jerseys, helmets or figurines don’t usually lend themselves to organization. The more you are prepared with an idea of what you are looking for, the easier the owner or employees can help you find it.
How to Find What You Need at Your LCS
Every local card shop is different, but typically they are a small shop in a strip mall. Even though they differ in size and with regard to what they carry, there are usually some consistent features you’ll see:
- Glass Display Case / Counter: Sometimes there are more than one of these. In the counter/case you’ll find special cards or vintage cards that have a higher price tag. These are fun to look through, but if you know what you are looking for it’s best to ask for help.
- Retail Card Displays: I’ve seen these on tables, on counters, or for some types of cards behind the counters. Many people by whole retail boxes so there might be several with maybe the top one of each kind open so that you can purchase by the pack.
- Card or Comic Book Display: Normally these are long organized rows on top of tables. Comics will have labels for what they are and allow you to flip through them quickly. Cards in these displays are usually cheaper and sometimes will be what we consider “dime boxes”.
- Jerseys/Clothing: Jerseys and other clothing items will be either in racks on the wall or, if there is enough floor space, like a department store in the middle of the floor. You can usually find some movie, anime or other themed clothing.
- Autographed Memorabilia: Pictures or framed jerseys could be on the wall or if not framed the pictures could be displayed so you can flip through them. Other items like helmets could be on shelves. The key to these items and their price is whether they are authenticated <> or not.
- Collectibles: Starting Lineup figures, gnomes, or bobbleheads would be found on shelves or other displays throughout the store.
- Books, Magazines and Price Guides: Sometimes you can find shelf or display of magazines and price guides along with some books about the hobby.
- Card Organization: Usually you can find some binder, plastic sheets and things like that. Sometimes the choice isn’t great as the store will focus on the better products – cards! Click here for more about organizing your card collection.
Sports Card Shops Near Me – How To Choose
The only way you can decide which trading card store is best for you, if you are lucky enough to have a choice, is to go there yourself. The benefit to going to a bricks-and-mortar local collectible card shop is to get to see the items in person and enjoy some time with other collectors. Seeing the card you are buying is key. Even though you can see a picture of a card online, you never know if you are going to get something different. In a card shop, if you want THAT card, you get THAT card.
The most important thing when I visit a sports card shop near me is that the staff or owner is friendly and helpful. You want to feel like they value your business. You don’t want to feel like they are taking you for a ride if you try to buy something. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t buy it and go someplace else. Also, they should know their products and their store. As I said earlier, many stores don’t look organized, but a good card dealer or staff member will know what they have and where.
Beyond that I would focus on the selection of sports cards. Maybe they aren’t as focused on trading cards and more on memorabilia. Maybe they are more focused on comics. Either way you need to find a collectible card store that gets you what you want. Card and hobby shops are not as prevalent these days so many times they have a variety to meet the needs of a lot of different interests.
If you are interested in autographed items, make sure there is a certificate of authenticity from a place like PSA or others. If not, make sure it’s not being billed as authentic and not being priced as authentic. It all goes back to how much you trust the local card shop. Click here for more about authentication.
Can I Find Sports Cards at Other Collectible Shops Near Me?
Sports Cards and other Trading Cards are available in other stores, but you have to be willing to look. The most obvious type of store to try is a comic book or collectibles store. The selection and number of cards aren’t usually great, but if you are desperate enough to be looking in other areas, this might be enough. I find that many times the selection tends to be older (not vintage, but just not recent) in these stores because the product doesn’t move off the shelf like in sports card shops.
If you are willing to be even less “traditional” about where you look you’ll have the chance to find some of the standard offerings. You probably won’t find the high-end packs, but I’ve found some interesting options this way:
Other Places You May Find Cards Locally
- Small Variety Stores: I would compare these to the old 5-and-Dime stores, almost literally. The key is giving the whole store a good look as the cards aren’t always in an obvious place. Also, not every version of that store carries the same product. That said, give places like Five Below, The Dollar Store, Dollar General and the like a try.
- Collectibles Stores: Places like a Hallmark store can have a small display of card choices. They usually aren’t fabulous, but I’ve found something interesting in these stores over the years.
- Mid-Sized Retail Pharmacies: This is a little less likely, but CVS and Rite Aid will carry cards from time to time. They usually place them on an end cap towards the middle of the store. Usually the packs are hanging up and not in boxes.
Big Box Retailers – Trading Card Stores for the Masses
The best option when you don’t have a local card shop might be a large retailer such as Target, Walmart or even Kmart (if you have one still). The selection in these stores can be surprisingly good if you are looking for more current cards and purchasing in packs or boxes. Target and Walmart tend to put their cards shelves near the registers, while Kmart, if they have cards, could be anywhere. In any of these stores, if you see Pokemon cards, you are in the right place.
- Target: Target is my favorite non-card shop source for cards. No matter what sport you are looking for they will have a good selection of standard and mid-range brands and releases. Baseball cards and football cards will have the best selection. Blaster boxes, hanger packs, and individual retail packs will all be available. In addition to that you can also find boxes that offer unopened older packs and 50-200 old cards and possibly even an autograph or memorabilia card. They are usually late 80’s to early 90’s cards and I think they would be great for a new collector, especially a young one.
- Walmart: Walmart is right between Target and Kmart in a lot of ways. First, the selection will be lesser than Target. Sometimes that means a lot less stuff on the shelves. But I’ve also found older products for 25 to 30% off. For the most part, if you find a Walmart that carries sports cards, they usually do a good job keeping that up. If you find one where there is a small or no selection, you probably don’t need to go back for cards.
- Kmart: When I’ve found cards in Kmart they tend to be older and discounted. They might be blaster boxes or packs of three to five year old cards. Many times they are heavily discounted and I’ve seen then at 50% off or better at times. It’s just a little more hit-or-miss as to whether they have them at all.
If my Local Trading Card Store Doesn’t Have It…
First, I would suggest checking for a flea market in your area. Flea markets usually have a local trading card dealer who brings some product and displays it on a folding table. You can usually find some good deals this way.
I find that my favorite dealers have one of two things: cheap boxes to flip through or packaged product. I love flipping through a dime box and looking for what I need to complete a set or looking for my favorite team. But I also like when they package a selection of cards together with a theme. Maybe it’s a selection of a team or a player. Sometimes other sellers will have cards, but I find that they are usually the most unrealistic about pricing. Always be willing to walk away.
Second, I would suggest looking for yard sales. This can be a crap shoot, but yard sales are usually advertised in the paper and will list some things they have. Ideally you can find a multi-home sale so there’s more possibility of cards.
Buying Cards Online
Amazon is a great place to purchase cards online. Usually you can find some great lots of cards that will be a good variety. These are great for kids start up a collection. Some of those types of products will have duplicates and you never know what you are going to get, but I’ve had some fun with those over the years.
eBay can be fun as well, but I find it stresses me out. You don’t know exactly what you are going to get and depending on what you are looking for, it could get pricy.
Can I Sell My Cards at a Local Collectible Card Shop?
Normally yes. However, it does depend on the dealer. It also depends on what your selling and how much of it. There are certain cards where it’s not worth the dealers time to buy. Card manufacturers over-saturated the market in the late 80’s and early 90’s and if you are trying to get rid of those cards they probably have plenty of them. You have to remember that they are going to need to sell it themselves.
I’ve found I do best when trying to sell individual cards that I am not interested in. Sometimes this doesn’t mean dealing directly with the sports card shop near you but with another customer you met. Again, one of the benefits of finding the shops is to find a community.
Will a Sports Card Store Near Me Have Organizers and Binders?
They should. If they are focusing on Sports Cards then they most likely will have some. In my experience the selection isn’t always great, but they have some basics like binders and plastic pages that hold cards. If they don’t I would ask them their opinion on what they recommend and where to get it from, even if it’s online. Stores that focus on a lot of other things, like comic books, usually will not have these items.
How Else Can I Find Out About Sports Card Shops Near Me?
In my experience the next best place to find out about dealer and trading card shops near me is to go to a card show. Where I live this is usually a group of dealers and collectors that get together in a small hotel’s meeting room. But a few tables together and open up the doors. Just ask them if they are coming from a store or where they would suggest going. Building these relationships can help you find what you need.
Go ahead and use Google or Yelp. Some great search terms to use are Sports Card Shops Near Me, Baseball Card Shops Near Me, Sports Memorabilia Near Me, or Trading Card Shops Near Me.
Is It Possible to Get Discounts or Coupons for Sports Cards?
Sports Card Shops are usually not the place to find discounts. The big box retailers are your best bet for that. There are three ways that you can find discounts. First, in recent years Topps has included discount stickers on the outside of their packages. These will usually offer a free pack when you buy a blaster box. Second, Topps sometimes includes coupon booklets in their blaster boxes. You can find $1 off coupons, or a free back of one product when you buy another. These first two are usually found at Target. Walmart and Kmart usually offer discounts on older blaster boxes. Last year’s blasters have to go somehow and knocking $5 off the price helps.
The History of Sports Card Shops
Sports card shops first opened in the 1970’s as the collecting of cards started growing from a hobby for kids to a business for adults. Some dealers worked on their own by appointment and others went all the way and opened up a trading card shop. As baseball cards became more and more valuable, the validity of the stores only grew.
In 1979 Dr. James Beckett and Dennis Eckes published The Sports Americana Guide to Baseball Cards. This publication provided baseball card collectors with information about how much their baseball cards were worth. If your Mom hadn’t thrown out their cards yet, folks who collected as kids were inspired to find those old cards and get back into the hobby. Old cards were reintroduced to the market.
Demand for cards only increased and the manufacturers were happy to oblige. Topps lost its monopoly and Donruss and Fleer came into the market in the early 80’s giving more choices. Speculators would grab rookie cards, as many as they could take. Some would pan out, others not so much. Errors were like gold. By the end of the 80’s the market was flooded with what we now refer to as junk wax.
1989 brought in Upper Deck, a high-quality and limited production set with a higher price. Collectors were paying more than a dollar per pack. There was a great reaction by collectors and the other manufacturers started moving in that direction. Prices soared and the hobby lost the younger collector who couldn’t keep up with the adults who could afford the top end cards, hoping they had magic in a pack.
The baseball strike in 1994 was a damper on a lot of collectors. Then the rise of the internet and eBay gave collectors access to so much more than they had before. Sports card shops would be on the decline quickly.
Sports card shops are difficult to find these days. When you find a local card shop you’ve got nostalgia gold. Take advantage.