Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Sad Farewell, A Happy New Beginning

I set aside enough money to do some much needed errands today. I picked up a 4 inch "D" ring binder at Office Depot and headed over to RBI Sports to pick up a box of Ultra Pro pages and maybe a few packs.

Nothing unusual, just some ordinary running around, all concerning this great hobby of ours. I saw a sort of familiar face sitting in the corner of the shop, behind the counter. I thought nothing of it, as Tony's friends and relatives sometimes help out if Tony had something that tore him away from the shop.

I picked up a box of pages, two Allen & Ginter packs and a TriStar PROjections pack. The box was brought down from the shelf and I was allowed to pick my pack, like usual. Then I asked where Tony was today. The answer was both alarming and somewhat comforting. He sold the store about a month ago.

After finally figuring out, in 2007, that there was a place that could have kept me interested in cards throughout the nineties, it felt like I had lost that all over again. I pressed on and asked why. Tony was the only employee, so he was there everyday, open to close. After fifteen years, he wanted to spend more time with his family. I can totally understand that and I can respect that.

The last few times that I was in the shop, I thought I noticed the old spark diminished in Tony. I chalked it up to having a bad day or a shipment was late or something else. Now, I realize that the writing was on the wall for his days as a shop owner. I can't afford to go in there every day or every week, or even every month. It had been awhile since I had stopped by. If I had to guess, it was probably in April or May.

As I was listening to the new shopkeeper, I started to understand the motivation behind the sale and I began to appreciate the new owners. The new owners had actually looked into opening a shop when Tony opened his. They were loyal customers and when Tony put the shop up for sale, it seemed like a natural fit.

This is a family owned and operated business, so the shop will be open seven days a week now. The man I talked to seemed friendly and willing to talk shop. He was a Cubs fan wearing a faded Fukudome shirt, but I have no beef with that. I don't care who's team you support, it's just nice to see the support there.

So long, Tony Carrasquillo. It was great having you as the nearest and coolest card shop owner in this area. I will never forget the instrumental role that you played in getting me back into the hobby. I appreciate all the advice and the conversations that we've had over the past two years. I bought my first hobby box since 1991 in your store and I pulled a nice Konerko card from a 2007 Moments & Milestones box, among other nice pulls. I wish you and your family the best.

Hello, Joe Ostrowski and family! I've only been in your new shop once since you've acquired it from Tony, but color me impressed. I have the same feeling that I had when I entered Tony's store. It was nice and friendly. A very inviting place to browse and shop. Good luck in your new business. I will be coming back.

I will be keeping RBI Sports on the recommended shops list. I've had a great experience my first time there with the new owners. I hope that trend continues. One of these days, I will make it out to AU Sports and from everything that I've heard about that store, it will be on the list. I just have to make an official visit and have a good experience for that to make the list.

1 comment:

Joe S. said...

Always nice to find a shop that at least gives the impression that the owner is in it for the love of the hobby and not for the business.

Of course, I realize that the reason anyone runs any business is to make money, but sometimes it's nice to pretend otherwise.

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