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Local Independent LEGO Shops - An Ominous New Trend?
Lately, I've noticed quite a few small businesses popping up in my area which specialize in LEGO bricks. Some of these are run by AFOLs but I have noticed a growing trend of what seems to be prospectors looking to cash in on the raging market and it concerns me, but maybe it shouldn't. I was curious to see if anyone else had similar experiences and misgiving.
I spend a decent amount of cash on Bicklink and occasionally even eBay buying used LEGO bricks and sets both for myself and my daughter. Local shops appeal to me since you can see what you are buying, browse, and also hopefully interact with other fans of LEGO. But often I am met with antagonism or condescension when I go into these local brick shops and it confuses me. Shouldn't I be their target consumer base? Should this not be one of the few stores in which I am the most welcome?
At first, I was thinking that maybe I don't come across as your regular AFOL and I was being pidgin holed as something else, an outsider. The antagonism is one that I often encountered in Baseball card shops or comic book stores before. But I am starting to think that is not what is going on.
Two specific factors make me think that the stores are being started and run by people who aren't actually fans of LEGO at all, but rather are just looking to cash in on the popularity of the brand.
Firstly, I have noted that there are many minifigures for sale in the display cases, a great source of income certainly, and I know from experience that they price these using Bricklink. Classic Space figures command high prices in the case -> $12 - $14 usually and that is comparable to Bricklink prices... for the best examples of those figures. But those seen in the cases often have the Classic Space Logo heavily worn, or almost gone. And some have the wrong helmet or no air tanks. the wrong head, etc. And yet, they are still listed at these high prices.
The other instance was recent. I was browsing the store and the person running it at the time decided to move a shelf. The shelf was fully loaded and he started pushing it from one end. I noted that a few of the big price sealed sets fell off the far side and I called out for him to stop telling him that some of the boxes had fallen down between that shelf and the next, and he rolled his eyes at me and assured me that he didn't need my help. Then he continued to push the shelf, crushing the boxes that had fallen. Sealed/overpriced sets.
Has anyone else experienced this? Are these shops popping up everywhere or just by me?
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