Actually Ryan, there are a few reasons why the stores around you are leaving, the least of which is EBay. Rather than answer why the stores are closing shop, let me tell you what we do right, and with that checklist, see if the stores have done similar.
1. Over 250,000 star and minor stars in top loads, on display, in alphabetical order AND individually priced for customer convenience.
2. Consistant hours. How many times is a store's hours posted, yet, on some occasions, you find the store closed during posted open hours.
3. Wide selection of wax boxes, and an ample supply of them. Have you ever been told they won't carry a product because its too expensive for you, the buyer, to purchase?
4. Gaming cards such as Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Duel Masters. Some stores want to remain pure sports card stores.
5. Extensive card supplies. Many stores carry only the basics, like 9 pocket sheets, screw holders, and top loads. Our store has over 200 different items for the collecter, even obscure items like 15 pocket pages, 16x20 top loads, etc etc.
6. Family friendly. Our place is clean, organized and friendly. Many wives and mothers feel intimidated with most card stores. A good 30 to 40% of our customers are wives and mothers. They consider our store a retail operation, not some smoke filled card shop.
7. Customer attention. Every customer is greeted upon entering our store.
I could go on, but I'm sure you're getting the gist of it. The days of just opening your doors and expecting business are long gone. We also wholesale to most of the stores in our area, and we've seen a lot of them come and go. Until most store owners recognize that their store is a retail establishment, much like Sears, Toy R Us, and so on, they will continue to fail.
I'm proud of the fact that parents and wives enjoy their experience in our store. For us, its the number 1 reason why our sales continue to grow in a positive manner. Its great when moms bring their kids to our Saturday Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments, and are comfortable in leaving them there for two or three hours, and for a few of the kids, five and six hours, as we allow them to hang around to play Yu-Gi-Oh, Duel Masters, etc well after the tournament is complete. Last Saturday, we had 32 kids for our morning Yu-Gi-Oh tournament, and another 23 for our afternoon Magic tournament. That is a heck of a lot in add on sales throughout the day.
As for your original EBay comment, I find that EBay works as a positive for card store owners. It gives collectors an opportunity to sell their unwanted cards, where years ago, if the store owner didn't want them, the collector had nowhere to turn. Our store is competitive with Ebay prices, both in box and single card price, and in supplies, we are much less expensive when shipping is taken into account. So, in total, this is a GREAT time to open a card/collectible store, providing you follow the basic retailing plan.