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Inside the Pack: We Interrupt This Wedding to Bring You Sports Cards

My sister-in-law got married two weeks ago, which meant my wife and I, preferring to avoid air travel during the pandemic, road tripped to the Norfolk, Virginia area. Though the wedding wasn’t until Saturday, we got into town on Wednesday, since my wife needed to do some pre-wedding activities in her role as maid of honor. This left me with Thursday as a day on which I had no plans, no wife around, and access to a car. When I realized this would be the case, I asked folks in a large Facebook baseball card group for hobby shop recommendations in the area. I received recommendations for 6 or 7 places that were varying distances from our hotel. Knowing I couldn’t get to all of them, I carefully planned out my trek to allow me to hit as many locations as possible. The route I landed on had 3 stops on my itinerary, all in Virginia Beach: B & B Cards and Collectibles, Virginia Beach Antique Mall (where I’d been told there was a card and memorabilia stall), and Heroes Sports Cards.

B & B was first on my list, partially because it was slightly closer to my starting point but mainly because it opened earlier. Located in a shopping center, B & B is well-organized and was easy to navigate. The left half of the store is predominantly NASCAR-related memorabilia, including die-cast cars, while the center had stands displaying various gift-type items, including more cars, magazines, signs, and so on. This left the back and right sides of the store for what I came for: sports cards. There were rows of glass display cases with singles inside, including a few particularly high end cards. The employee was helping another customer when I arrived, but was eager to help me as soon as that transaction was finished. I looked at a few single cards, including a 2001 Upper Deck Albert Pujols rookie I almost pulled the trigger on. Despite the good and fair price, I couldn’t get over the fact that I sold one for about half that price a year ago before the market began to increase, so I handed the card back over to the employee.

At the front of the store near the register was a solid selection of sealed boxes from all sports. Prices were very good, and in some cases were cheaper than ebay by a good bit. I thought about buying a box of 2020 Topps Heritage Minors, but the player I collect (Alex Faedo) wasn’t in this year’s product, so I passed. But I did get to talking with the employee about the prices of boxes this year, and before I knew it we had been talking for almost an hour, putting me way behind schedule! Unfortunately, I left empty-handed, but that was more an indictment of my hard-headedness than their selection and prices.

Realizing I was suddenly shorter on time that I’d hoped, I skipped the antique mall and headed straight to Heroes, which is in an unassuming free-standing building in a mostly residential neighborhood. Despite being unfamiliar with the area, it was easy to find, with signs on the street reading “Sports Cards Sold Here.” Upon walking in, I entered a small room that had no baseball cards, but heard some banter coming from the next room over. When I entered that room, I was greeted with several rows of boxes and display cases, my version of heaven. I simply started at the beginning of the row I was closest to and began making my way down the aisle. Despite being the middle of a weekday, there were several other folks there, one looking through boxes of vintage cards on a table in the back and another, who was clearly a regular customer, trying to sell some retail boxes and packs to the shop.

The store had a little bit of everything. Cases were generally grouped in some manner that made sense: one case had primarily baseball relics and autos, while another had star inserts and rookies, another was vintage, and so on. On top of the cases were various other items; some had boxes of lower-end graded cards, while others had lower-end autographs, unsigned 8×10 photos, or small memorabilia type it items. I got most excited when I found a section with some oddball team-issued postcards from the early 1970s, many of which had signatures. There were no big names, but I love stuff like this, and I grabbed 25 of them, even though they were some of the only stuff I ran across without a price.

Underneath some of the cases were cabinets that housed more boxes of cards. These boxes were singles and were sorted by sport, and, for vintage, year. It wasn’t until I discovered these boxes that I saw a sign stating that all cards in toploaders (including those in the cases) were buy 2, get 1 free. This caused me to do another lap around the store, re-examining cards i had previously passed up. As I was looking at vintage cards in the case, the employee told me there were more boxes of commons in the back and showed me a huge offering of commons boxes. He noted that customers weren’t allowed back there but that he could pull any boxes I needed. It made me almost wish I was working on a vintage set. The front of the room, near the register, was where more modern release singles were, along with higher end cards and sealed product. As for memorabilia, Heroes had some jerseys, die-cast cars, bobbleheads, and so on along the side walls of the room.

In all, I spent a little under 2 hours at Heroes, and if I didn’t get called to transport stuff to my sister-in-law’s wedding venue, I could have easily spent another hour or two digging around. I also would have loved to make it back to B & B and picked something up. And certainly, i would have loved to check out the antique mall as well. Next time, maybe I’ll build 2 days into my schedule to look at cards.

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