Thursday, September 8, 2011

Are You a "Card Vulture"?

When it comes to high-end sets, I consider myself a "card vulture". Allow me to explain...

Other than the Gypsy Queen hobby box I picked up earlier this summer, I've never spent more than $100 on a hobby box of anything. In fact, most of the boxes I've busted have been under $30, like this one, or this one. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing folks who go for high-end, but the fact is I'm a set collector who doesn't care about hits much, and I keep myself on a very strict card budget. Buying just one $100+ box exhausts my budget for an entire month, and I have much more fun picking out a bunch of smaller items.

That being said, there are obviously still cards from high-end sets that I'm interested in. This is where my card-vulturing comes into play (yes I just made that word up). We have a guy at the local hobby shop...I'm sure you know the type. He will literally come in and blow through two grand opening a bunch of high end product, dump most of the cards back to the store for "credit" and walk out with maybe 5 or 6 total cards. You know, the big hits. This is where I swoop in, pick over the carcass (the hundreds of base cards, serial-numbered and lower end hits) and snag what I want dirt cheap. Here's the latest example...

Said high-end customer is at the hobby shop last time I stop in, ripping through boxes of 2010-11 Ultimate hockey at $100 a whack. This doesn't seem like such a bad price until you realize that each "box" contains a single pack, with 5 cards in it. Yup, you're basically paying $20 per card with this product.

Anyway, I chat with the owner for a while, and after a bit the customer performs his normal ritual, sells back most everything he opened to the store to get a discount on what he ripped, and walks out with around 4 cards and a bill in the hundreds. I swoop in, look through the piles of cards left behind and find one that I've looked at a few times already on eBay:

This is Gordie's base card from Ultimate, and it's a pretty sweet card for a Whalers fan like myself. The one card issued of Gordie with the Whale during his playing days, the 1979-80 Topps/OPC I showed in my previous post, depicts him in a WHA New England Whalers jersey. In recent years though Upper Deck has put out quite a few cards featuring Mr. Hockey in a Hartford sweater, and I never pass them up when I can find them on the cheap.

It's hard to tell from the scan, but this card is numbered to 399, as all the "base" cards are in this set. Here's the back with the Whalers logo proudly displayed front and center:

My total cost for this single? Two bucks. Best of all, no buyer's remorse!

I'd be interested in hearing from some of you on this. Are you a card vulture? A high-end product buster? Somewhere in the middle? Comments welcome!

9 comments:

1967ers said...

I have never tried that, but it seems brilliant. I've never actually seen anyone dump all the excess, though. I don't even think I've seen anyone crack a box in a shop. I obviously don't spend enough time in my local shops.

NEW PLAN!!! :)

That's a really cool card, too.

Captain Canuck said...

I am that as well, although I can't do it at my shop... no big discounts on those types of cards... I pick mine up at the monthly shows...

Matt Pederson said...

I go with ebay for my vulturing. I got Bobby Hull and Ray Bourque from the same set as your Howe for a buck a piece.

Brad said...

Like yourself spending $100 on a box break cripples my bank account...

Brad said...

btw I saw a Howe card from the latest The Cup release on eBay (very nice looking) that reminded me of yourself.

Nick B. said...

I've always thought of The Cup and Ultimate like a car (probably because a box is the same as a car payment most years). Let someone else buy it new and take the off-the-lot depreciation and I'll buy the cards I want a lot cheaper when the initial buzz dies down.

So yes, I would be a high-end vulture since I'm a set builder at heart.

Josh D. said...

I'm a garage sale and craigslist hunter.

shoeboxlegends said...

Brad, I have seen that Gordie Howe base card from The Cup that you're referring to, even watched a couple auctions on eBay but haven't pulled the trigger yet. There is also a Ron Francis base card from this year's Cup release that shows him in a Whalers sweater as well.

Wait til you see the awesome card I just added to my collection from The Cup, I'll be posting it in a couple of weeks as soon as it arrives in the mail!

Jeremy said...

I'm still amazed that people can spend that kind of money on a luxury product in this economy. Yes, I am a card vulture.

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