I will start by saying that my biggest problem with card stores is the stereotype that they fulfill. After starting collecting again, I've only been to a few shops so far, but they are more the less all the same. Now when I write about this, some will likely say that what I mention is part of the charm or that they prefer things this way but maybe I just have higher standards for everything (not just hobby shops).
So this store I go to it's on a pretty much dead end street, where there really isn't a place to park. How you run a business and not have a well defined parking location is beyond me. Not a good way to start, because you'll probably loose customers for the simple reason that they don't know where to park.
The inside of the store was small, kind of expected since most hobby shops don't need to be too large. But when you look around everything is just scattered. There's not a logical order to things, no idea where to look for items, just a cluttered shop. I've seen this at most stores, that things are just cluttered in general, that's not a good way to leave an impression on a customer, much less make it easy to find things. And I know, the clutter is more or less a result of the mass amounts of single items that are located within a store, but I shouldn't have to ask a store owner where something is, it should be rather apparent. For instance, have hobby boxes located on a shelf by year/alphabetical order. Seems like a simple way to organize things, but no, this shop had some hobby boxes here, some there. I think I spent 5 minutes just trying to find the hobby boxes for 2009 because they weren't all in the same location. Pretty amazing since it was a small store.
I never really buy single cards at hobby shops (frankly they're cheaper via ebay anyway), but that doesn't mean these can't also be in order or easily viewable. I'm not being picky about the organization of this shop because I'm a neat freak or anything. It's just good business. If wal-mart were to just throw a bunch of items on a shelf and not tell you with signs where things were, would you really spend your time searching through everything to find what you wanted? Seeing as how current online dealers sell product for much cheaper than a local hobby store, providing service that is easy, clean (don't let the store smell like the mildew of an odd fellows hall, kids don't like the smell of old "stuff"), fast (unless of course you want to just hang out with local hobbyists, in which case it should also be hospitable), and convenient should be the focus as it is essentially the only advantage that you might still have.
And another thing... If you're marking up product over 15 percent over the price I can get online, rest assured I'm probably walking away. I'm not stupid, I know when I'm being gouged, sometimes I just choose to help a local shop owner out, but that doesn't mean I don't have other/cheaper options. A box of 2009 Topps Finest for $110?! F*!k that!!!
In my opinion, the death of the hobby shop is going to be a result of doing bad business. Unbelievable how many times I've looked online and found a hobby shop that doesn't have a webpage, or even details on store hours. These kinds of details can be posted online for FREE. The store owner even admitted he was suprised I found the place. Are you serious?! Surprise at having a customer? That's not good... See ya again at your going out of business sale.
So this store I visited pretty much sucked. Not saying anything about the shop owner, he was rather nice. But in terms of shopping experience, I will likely never be back. I did buy a box of 2009 O Pee Chee, for more than was wise, and I will write about that box soon...