Hobby vs. Retail – Buying packs of Sports Cards

Each individual collector starts his or her collection differently. They may choose to collect their favorite player, team, just collect random cards as an investment or they would try to build up their own sets. Collectors cannot resist the urge to buy packs of cards in the chance of seeing their favorite player in a low #’d insert rookie card or autograph and this is pure temptation for a collector. You may end up buying boxes or cases and open them enthusiastically hoping to find a treasure inside. However, there are different options for packs and boxes which shall be explained.


Hobby cards will be available in many small retail outlets, card shows and hobby shops. If you are not sue of what you want to buy, someone will most probably be knowledgeable enough o help you with what you want. It is usually better organized



They can be easily purchased at any big box retail stores like Target and can be found either on the shelves with the cards inside Pokémon boxes or even under lock and key safe inside glass boxes. You will find the boxes open as there are store policies that require employees to open the boxes before they are placed on the shelf. However, there are unopened boxes that are sent from the manufacturer to the retailer and are explicitly for full box sales only. This is very good for collectors as the unopened boxes will usually hold some free packs which may not be available if you purchase individual boxes. However, if you are not sure of what you are looking or, you may not find much help with the store employees as they may not have enough information or knowledge about the specific product you are looking for.

Hobby vs. Retail – Tips to keep in mind while purchasing boxes

Collectors need to keep in mind certain pointers before purchasing packs or boxes and should also remember the differences between purchasing retail or hobby boxes.

  • Care and Maintenance of the product: If you notice in big retail stores, there is not enough man power to keep a check on who touches what product. Many people like to ‘feel’ the cards to locate the ones with inserts in them and this can damage the cards in the process. It won’t be just one person once in a blue moon rifling through the packs, it will be a lot more. This means when you buy a product, it will not be in pristine new condition.


If you are looking to purchase a pack or a box from the big box stores, you should look at the ones that are under lock and key. They will be in better condition than the ones that are left outside for any person to touch. In comparison, hobby shops take great care of their merchandise and customers are generally not allowed to go through the packs. Also, certain manufacturers place the insert cards in the exact same spot in all their packaged boxes and dealers may take advantage of this fact and shuffle them around before selling them.

  • Card Value: This can be inconsistent as the prices may vary greatly depending upon the place you buy it from. A hobby store will fluctuate the prices, keeping in mind the current rates. However, big retail stores may keep it fixed as they are not too bothered with current trends. This is great for hot products as the rates will increase in hobby stores, but a month later when all the prices in other places are high, retail stores will still be stocking them in their introductory price. Just do your research before buying to get a better idea of value.
  • Number of cards: The number of cards per pack may vary from the hobby and retail boxes as the number of cards may be more in hobby packs.
  • Card designs: The designs may vary too from hobby and retail with huge price differences as they manufacturers design different styles keeping in mind the end user who is buying them as a hobby or for the purpose of retail distribution.
Trust me, kids with the passion for collecting is like a force of nature. They will do anything to get ‘that’ particular card. We had a whole bunch of friends who were into the craze at the time and we would spend

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