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Sports card retail boxes are primarily sold through large retail chains like Target, Wal-Mart, and Kmart. Retail boxes can also be purchased online from smaller retail stores, and through eBay. The biggest benefit to buying retail boxes and packs is that they are significantly cheaper then their hobby box counterparts.
In brick and mortal retail environments retail boxes are broken up and sold by the pack. They are also available through manufacturer sealed "blaster boxes". Blaster boxes contain a set number of packs at a price below what it would cost to buy each pack individually. Blaster boxes are sold at three different price points ($9.99, $19.99, and $29.99) depending on the quality and quantity of the cards they contain. In addition to sporting a lower per pack rate, blaster retail typically include some sort of added bonus like a free pack or a special insert card.
Although they are the cheapest means of buying new sports card products, buying individual packs of sports cards from unsealed retail boxes is a risky proposition. This is because a handful of less then ethical collectors routinely go to Wal-Mart and Target to cherry pick the packs containing the special hits. The individuals, known as pack searchers, can identify game used memorabilia and autograph cards without even opening (or paying for) the packs. They determine which packs contain the hits by weighing each of them with a portable digital scale, and/or carefully pressing packs on both sides until they feel a sticker, which is indicative of an autographed card. Once they identify the packs which contain hits, they pay for them and go on their way, leaving behind all the hitless packs. Unfortunately these actions usually go unnoticed by store employees, although a growing number of stores have become aware of this problem and are prepared to take corrective action.
Sports card companies have increasingly been making more of an effort to include retail exclusive inserts and parallels in their retail products. Most of the retail exclusive cards come in the form of parallel base cards or fairly low level inserts and rookie card sets. One recent example of this was 2009 Topps Baseball Series 1 and 2, which took the retail exclusive concept to the extreme. Topps actually produced two different retail exclusive base card set variations, one for Wal-Mart and one for Target.
Retail boxes are a great choice for young collectors, hobby newcomers, and budget minded collectors alike. They sport much lower price tags then their hobby box brethren, yet are still a fun and exciting way to enjoy collecting sports cards. Player collectors enjoy the inexpensive selection of base cards found in retail boxes. Likewise, set collectors are drawn to retail boxes as they allow them to add to their latest set building projects without paying the extra charge inherent in buying hobby boxes.
Check out our sports card box price comparison and review database to find the best deals for buying retail boxes.
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