I’m not sure what I was looking for on Craigslist. . . I have a number of hobbies that take me there from time to time. Unfortunately for the most part Craigslist has been a series of ‘I’m sorry it just sold before you called’ experiences for me.
This week was different though. Whatever I was searching for lead me to a bit of an oddly posted ad that included a coin-operated Fortune Teller. I love coin-op stuff, and I love fortune tellers so I contacted the seller. One thing after another and I found myself in a suburb far away from my normal ‘stomping ground.’ I left the seller’s house with ‘Destiny’ in the back of my car already excited from an successful day. Samantha (my GPS for the uninitiated) was all warmed up from guiding me to the sellers home so I asked her about comic shops in her lovely ‘points of interest’ directory.
Rick’s Comics was only about two miles away and sort of in the direction I was heading so I asked Samantha to show me the way to Rick’s. She dutifully complied leading me through some areas I wasn’t quite sure I should be driving through, but I made it just fine. As I approached the building I saw a rack of trading cards out on the street with some newish Garbage Pail Kids on the rack so I had some hope that it would be another fruitful stop for me. As the door opened I was greeted with literally stacks of comics, cards, action figures and all the related materials you can think of stacked 10-15 feet high forming a bit of a maze through this treasure trove of a shop. A boisterous voice boomed across the room at me “Hi! How long has it been since you’ve been here?” He asked. I stood, a bit stunned, trying to take it all in before processing what he asked and responded “Uh. . . I’ve never been here before.” My eyes scanned stacks and piles looking for tell tale signs of cards, and they were everywhere. It was like new product had been getting stacked on top of old product for the last 15 years. There were stacks of 5000 count boxes of cards in the back of the room, stacks of 3000 count boxes by the door. A shelf of binders, random boxes stacked on top of and under various things throughout the store, random packs on display taped to the wall, packs of Don Maitz cards on top of comic boxes, boxes of Wayne Barlowe cards on top of a shelf of busts, packs of Disney cards under a rack of comics and books, a tin of Plasm cards, boxes of Women of Marvel tucked in here and there, and on and on and on. It literally would take someone hours, if not days to go through everything in Rick’s shop, and according to the boisterous fellow (Rick? — I’m gonna call him Rick) there is a warehouse where they have even more cards, comics and who-knows-what else.
Rick was exceptionally friendly, in that stereotypical ‘Chicago Guy’ fashion. He was very interested in talking about the hobby, but less interested in digging through boxes to find cards. That’s not to say he didn’t grab various things and show them to me, but by his own admission the monster boxes and shelves were in no particular order. The pricing on most things was pretty much on the fly — most packs were marked $3-$3.50 regardless of age or desirability, the Daredevil box was $65, and Women of Marvel boxes were $90. Rick seemed pretty willing to work on prices for most things and I spied what looked like most of a box of Iron Man. It was marked $4 a pack, and there were 23 packs in the box. . . plus there was a pack taped to the wall making a full box of packs. I had been considering picking up a some Iron Man since I really enjoyed the movie so I asked about the price, and he said he could sell them for $2 a pack. I realize that $48 for a box worth of packs of Iron Man isn’t exactly a spectacular deal, but I had the itch to open something so I pulled the trigger. Once I decided to buy the Iron Man another patron came into the shop and I literally stood there while Rick and this guy had thirty minute conversation about the Watchmen. Various other collectors walked in and walked out. . . some waited to be able to get a word into the conversation to ask a question, but most simply waited a few minutes and walked out. At this point I had been in the shop for well over an hour and didn’t want to walk out empty handed, so I waited for my opportunity and told him I wanted the Iron Man cards.
I was tempted to buy some other packs in addition to the Iron Man, but I’m always leery of buying packs at new shops so I only bought the Iron Man. As I jumped in the card and set Samantha on a course for home I ran through the best cards in the set, and felt that the best pull for me would be Jeff Bridges. Downey Jr. is cool, and more expensive, but Bridges would be my #1 pick out of the set, at the same time I was keenly aware I may have just spent $50 on cherry picked packs. The first stoplight I grabbed a pack and cracked it open to find a costume card — nothing special, but it told me the box mostly likely wasn’t cherry picked. Over the course of the long drive home I grabbed packs when I could (yes I opened packs while driving — sorry mom). Then, about three-quarters of the way through the packs, I looked down to see Jeff Bridges staring me in the face. It was almost like a dream. At first I didn’t realize I had actually pulled Jeff Bridges’ autograph. Looking back I think it was The Big Lebowski rewarding me for waiting patiently for Rick to tell his stories to me and other folks in the shop. The Dude abides, and apparently awards others for abiding as well.