I just returned from my local card shop’s last location, which I have learned will be closing its doors very soon.
The shop I am referring to is Diehl’s in the Wyoming Valley Mall in Wilkes-Barre Township, PA, which has been my shop of choice for the last decade or so. Diehl’s once dominated the market for card collecting and related memorabilia in Northeastern Pennsylvania, with two locations in Luzerne County and one in Scranton. I can remember going to the shop when was a kid in fourth or fifth grade and seeing the shop so packed with kids my age that it was almost impossible to have a decent look around. But, times change and the kids stopped coming in. Soon Diehl’s closed two of their locations and stuck with their flagship store in the Wyoming Valley Mall, which will now close as well.
For the last few months, nobody has been working at the shop besides the owner himself and my trip there today revealed a dwindling stock and every single marked down by 50%, as well as dozens of $.25 specials. Out with the old.
Baseball cards are a practically ancient form of entertainment, right up there with vinyl records. However, vinyl has staged a comeback and today marked an international holiday for the vinyl collecting community with Record Store Day, an annual event held at independent record shops. The day is celebrated with the releases of limited runs of special vinyl, free give-a-ways and in-store entertainment. I also collect vinyl and when I arrived to pick up my desired releases from my record shop, I was greeted with a line that wrapped around to the side of the building at nine in the morning. Consider that: it’s 2011, we have the iPad, 3D television and digital music, yet dozens of people were waiting to get their hands on those antiquated discs. Vinyl is here to stay. I wish I could say the same for cards.
The comic book industry was faced with the same problem and they launched Comic Book Day, which was held at comic book shops across the country. Vinyl and print have evolved and have invented ways to be relevant in this modern world. Why can’t baseball cards, or any sport card for that matter? And don’t refer me to Upper Deck Evolution – it can’t be a serious attempt at competing with other forms of media. Evolution is way too cheesy and has no wow factor at all. Can’t I find the videos that go with these cards on YouTube? And they’re far too bulky as far as cards go.
So, maybe we can start a motion for the creation of Baseball Card Day or something along those lines.
Granted, collecting cards isn’t for everybody, thanks in part for the card companies for making the checklists so damn complicated. But the baseball card is an iconic symbol of generations past – a mark of success, a paper trophy of achievement and it’s up to us, the collectors, to let that legacy live on. While our card shops may be dwindling our passion certainly isn’t. Let’s share that passion with world.
Please feel free to comment and follow me on Twitter: @tmdziedzic. I’m also open to any vinyl discussion especially related to the Beach Boys, for fellow record collectors out there.