I want to write reviews of the Mint stores, but I keep thinking "I don't have time to write all of them right now" and not doing it, so I'll try to do one at a time. I just visited the Mint store in Chiba yesterday, so here's what I have to say about it:
"Trading cards, sports figures, hobby collections, capsule/gacha"
Location: 千葉県千葉市中央区富士見2-3-1 BEE-ONE3F (Google Map)
Chiba-ken, Chiba-shi, Chuo-ku, Fujimi 2-3-1, Bee-One building, third floor
Hours: 9:30am - 8pm, every day
Directions: From JR Chiba station (or Keisei Chiba, or Monorail Chiba), go to the east exit of the JR Chiba station. There'll be a big parking turnaround. Walk down the sidewalk on your left side -- you'll see a Jonathan's diner in the distance, walk towards it but DON'T WALK TO IT. Instead, a bit before you hit the crossroads you'll see an "Underground passage". Go downstairs into the underground passage and take exit "B1". When you come up from the stairs, there are a few big commercial buildings on your right. Walk up the block a bit and one of them has a sign for Yodobashi Camera - no, sadly not in English, but you can't miss it if you can read katakana. Go into that building, and there should be elevators on both sides of you before you actually get into the Yodobashi store. Take the elevators to the 3rd floor, which is a mall-like area, walk past the guitar shop, and you'll see the Mint store (and after it, Yellow Submarine).
Size / Type: Mall store, medium size
People: Polite enough (There was just one guy at the counter and I didn't really talk to him until I was ready to buy, but he didn't seem freaked out by having an American chick picking through the books of cards)
Stock of interest: 2005 unopened packs (BBM 2nd, Hanshin Tigers, Dragons, some other team packs. 4-card 2005 2nd sets for 100 yen in clear plastic so you can see the top card, 4-card 2004 sets in the same way. Konami 2005 Prime Nine packs for Orix, Dragons, Carp. Lots of 2006 packs including BBM 1st AND 2nd, team packs, etc. Binder with Calbee cards from the 1970's (I was so excited to see a Yoshiro Sotokoba card from 1975 that I actually said "Holy crap!!" out loud and got some funny looks. It only cost 400 yen! But I don't really need it.)
NOT much before 1998 in terms of BBM, surprisingly, and very few single cards before 2005.
They had a LOT of team sets for reasonable prices, but just for common cards. So if you want, you could pay 1000 yen and get all 36 Swallows cards in the 2007 1st Edition, and then also get all 15 Swallows cards in 2007 BBM 2nd Edition for another 500 yen. (I actually was looking for Swallows sets for a friend.) But that doesn't include any of the extras for players (Gold gloves, "Be Aggressive", etc).
Another thing that was both cool and uncool was -- in their older BBM sets, say 2002, you could get crazy deals where it'd be like, 100 yen for 10 cards from a team from that year. The catch is that they were all wrapped, so you could only see the first card and the last card in the set, and couldn't just look through all the individual cards to see what they had. I picked up a Dragons 2002 set because I saw Morino on top and Tatsunami on the bottom, though. I figured, "If separate cards are normally 50 yen and so these are two cards I want, I'm essentially getting 8 cards free!"
The binders were really neat, you could look through team sets and see the "puzzle piece" cards as they should be when assembled. This is particularly neat for the "Hashire, Norichika!" 12-card Aoki set in this year's Yakult team packs, or the 6-card "Kyuuji Special" in Hanshin's packs, or the Chunichi/Fighters/etc 3-card sets I showed in some of my other baseball card posts here. They also had the individual cards in binders for many boxed sets, like the all-star sets and so on.
They also HAD the Furuta retirement set normal 27 cards for only 500 yen... well, until I bought it, that is :) I do mean just the regular 27 cards -- apparently the 4000-yen boxed set comes with some special card, plus the box is special, but honestly I don't care that much about having the box.
There's a special box with lots of Chiba Lotte Marines cards, which shouldn't be surprising for the Chiba store. They also have a box of Marines rookie cards, which are really cool (but kind of expensive). There's also the usual "box of cards of Japanese players now in the majors", and there are some boxes of normal MLB cards too, but I don't pay much attention to those.
This store also has a ton of soccer cards, as well as "idol" cards, ie, collectable cards of Japanese bikini models. It also had a lot of figurines of both sports and other things; you could get a complete 12-set of those capsule game baseball figures for 5800 yen, but since I got to see them all I decided I didn't REALLY want them.
What I bought:
2 packs of 1st edition 2007 BBM (210 yen each)
1 pack of 2nd edition 2005 BBM (210 yen)
2 plastic 4-packs of 2nd edition 2005 BBM (one with Ogasawara on top, one with Shinji Takahashi) (100 yen each)
1 10-card plastic pack of Chunichi Dragons 2002 (100 yen)
Furuta intai set, 27 regular cards (500 yen)
Yukio Tanaka "Rookie Edition" 2003 BBM card (50 yen)
I have to write about the Furuta set some other time just because it's really neat.
I didn't get anything super-inspiring in the BBM 2007 1sts, a few good players and a Matsuzaka golden glove card. Nor the 2005s, really, though I got a reflector card of a Nobuhiko Matsunaka "starting lineup" card from the same game as Seguignol.
Dragons 10-card set had Morino, Kawakami, Sekikawa, Ohnishi, H. Watanabe, Noguchi, Eiji Ochiai, Asakura, Makoto Kitoh, and Tatsunami. Not bad for 100 yen.
I'll hopefully talk about the other Mint stores soon. Last weekend I visited the Ikebukuro, Urawa, Fujisawa and Yokohama stores, and I usually frequent the Jimbocho store, and I'm going to go check out Komagome today.