The first of the three card shops that I visited on my trip was Cardiacs in Cary. Cardiacs is a fairly new shop, in fact, its next door to the place garage I used to take my car to be serviced. The two principal owners are Johnny (who works at the garage) and Jay (a law enforcement officer).
Because Johnny and Jay have full-time jobs, Cardiacs is only open in the evenings and on Saturdays. I wonder if that's not the future of card shops - part-time concerns owned by people who don't rely on the shop to make a living and do it as a labor of love. In the three years that Cardiacs has been open (they arrived on the scene the month after I left for Australia), they have developed an impressive array of baseball, football, basketball and hockey cards.
Jay was extremely generous with his time, and I enjoyed speaking to him. He gave me a bit of insight as to why some online sites won't ship internationally, although I still don't understand why they don't. I found that of the three shops, Cardiacs had the best range of newer cards, and perhaps that is a function of their relative newness. At any rate, since I'm focusing on collecting from 2008-2010 and then working my way backwards, Cardiacs met my needs.
Although it wasn't the largest shop I visited, Cardiacs was the most comfortable. It didn't feel cramped, and everything was laid out well. I found a bunch of cards to cross off my 2009 Topps want list, as well as a couple of insert cards. In addition, I got a couple of Allen & Ginter packs, and I noticed that they had reduced the prices of their A&G boxes down below the $100 mark (it was $99, but still...) Johnny mentioned that they had hosted an A&G case break a couple of nights before - case break parties are a regular feature at Cardiacs.
Some highlights of my visit:
2010 Allen & Ginter Allosaurus mini
I was really hoping to pull a dinosaur, even though the odds (1:12) weren't good for me given the fact that I only bought two packs. So you can imagine my delight when I saw the allosaurus staring back at me in pack #2. Much better than a real allosaurus, which you do not want to mess with.
I wanted a Monster of the Mesozoic because my wife's class studied dinosaurs this term in school. The fact that she actually showed some interest in this set I took as a positive. It's a big reason why I've done an about face on Allen & Ginter and am now a fan.
2009 Topps 206 Felix Hernandez (regular and mini)
My first mini (since I pulled it out of the box before I bought the A&G packs) and the regular card to go with it. At this time, I was still a 206 fan. I'm sure I'll be getting all the 206 cards of players and teams I care about, though. The back of the mini is a Piedmont back, as well.
2009 SP Legendary Cuts Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez
Not sure what I think about this stamp design, but since my goal is to collect, collect, collect cards from these two players, I picked them up. I've found that part of the deal is just finding out what's out there. If I see a new card with one of the "Big Four" then I now know to investigate and see if the other three (or two, in this case) also have cards in that set I need to collect as well. Besides, there's a possibility that this could be a Griffey White Sox card. Can you tell I haven't actually investigated this set yet? I'll do that after I post.
2009 Topps Chrome Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez
I did a good job picking up King Felix and The Freak, as you can see. Both of these cards are nice and shiny, and now I need to add Ken Griffey and Ichiro to the collection. Donations gladly accepted. :)
Grade for Cardiacs
Store - Presentation: A; Inventory: B
Customer Service: A
I highly recommend a trip to Cardiacs if you ever find yourself in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill or Cary. Remember, though, that it is a part-time concern, and their opening hours are M/Tues/Thur/Fri 5-8, Saturday 12-8ish (they usually close early). It's not on their website, but you have been informed. Regardless, stop by and give Jay, Johnny and their staff a look.
Allosaurus, Hernandez 206 and Chrome, Lincecum Legendary Cuts and Chrome courtesy of eBay
Hernandez Legendary Cuts courtesy of Amazon.com
Hernandez 206 mini back courtesy of Check Out My Cards