Have You Found Cards at Retail? If So, You’re Lucky

The hobby has exploded. Baseball cards, football cards, and basketball cards have not been this popular since the waning days of the junk wax era in the early 1990’s.

A lot has changed in the hobby in the past 30 years. What hasn’t changed is certain products get really hot and hard to find. These days that seems like almost every product pumped out by Topps and Panini.

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“The next couple weeks are going to be rough. Nine sports card releases are coming out,” my local Excell card vendor recently told me with a look of defeat in his eyes.

Distributors like Excell (Target’s card vendor) and MJ Holdings (Wal-Mart’s card vendor) are making a lot of money. Card companies are making a lot of money. Target and Wal-Mart are making a lot of money. And collectors and flippers that are lucky enough to get these products can turn around and sell….and make a lot of money.

On the day I had my conversation with the card vendor, I had just completed a purchase for some new Panini Chronicles basketball boxes and packs. But…this particular Target store limited quantity, and that was the only reason I was lucky enough to land these cards.

Limited quantity is something this vendor says is on Target management and they made the decision to limit quantity on the basketball cards since the store had less product with a lot of customers already waiting for the vendor to scoop them up.

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That particular day I was in search of Topps Chrome baseball cards to rip open myself, but they had already been scooped up as soon as the vendor opened the boxes. My consolation was the basketball cards and for a total of $180 of unopened product, I was able to flip that for $1,000 even in gross sales. Taking out fees and shipping, it was still a net profit of several hundred dollars.

Have you found any of the hot retail packs and boxes this year? If you have, count yourself as lucky. In most stores, if you are not there at the same time the vendor arrives to stock you’ll be out of luck.

Many people have speculated that vendors are making back door deals with flippers. I don’t believe that to be the case at all. What I do believe is happening is Target and Wal-Mart employees have an eye out for the card vendor and alert friends in turn clearing the shelves in quick fashion.

At a card show earlier this year a dealer that was set up was bragging to another dealer that he “has connections” at several Wal-Mart stores and “pays them well.” So, yes that happens.

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Collectors also track vendor routines. For the most part, the vendors do not have a concrete schedule, and it varies store-by-store and by vendors. But, in some cases they do stock the same store on the same day around the same time.

If you spot a vendor stocking, check back the following week on the same day around the same time and you may find it is part of their stocking schedule. That has largely been the case with stores near me. And with the large increase of people actively searching for cards and the vendor…

There is some competition out there. If your local Target and Wal-Mart are never stocked with cards…chances are collectors got to the vendor quickly and wiped the shelves. What are your thoughts on the scarcity of cards at retail? Drop a comment below.

3 thoughts on “Have You Found Cards at Retail? If So, You’re Lucky

  1. While there may be some flippable product at retail, this fever seems outsized for a distribution channel that mostly sells lower-end releases.

  2. I collect and enjoy opening packs and boxes and sharing the joy and excitement with our 3 kids. I wish we had more of an opportunity to get some cards. We check Walmart and Target almost every week.

  3. My son and I have found very few we were lucky to find some Illusions and Chronicles Basketball but were limited to so many and I had to drive 2 hours to find them all the stores within 30-45 minutes are usually wiped out because I believe people are ripped off as well or maybe know the vendor! I would like to see them limit the number so more people got a fair shake, I’m not as worried about flipping I enjoy collecting with my 2 sons and it’s getting ruined with the outrageous prices of a $20-25 retail blaster box being resold for over $70! We were unable to find any Mosaic basketball or optic! We were very fortunate though last year before Christmas time to find quite a bit of Prizm I wish I would have been greedy and bought everything I had seen now seeing what they are being sold for! It’s not going to good for football right now either unless you want a ton of score or prestige but not seen many of those anymore either or anything else! It’s just sad to see this fun hobby become more about greed and the almighty dollars like everything else!

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