Guest article by coryyokel22
One of the more discouraging problems in the card collecting hobby is the surfacing of what are referred to as “hot packs”. These packs usually come with a guarantee of an autograph or game used card to be inside. The main place where you can find them for sale is on eBay, usually in “Buy It Now” situations. The issue at hand about these packs is that you know some guy isn’t buying a hobby box and keeping the commons for himself while setting aside the hits the box contains. It is typically a situation where a guy will go to a local retail store and spend hours sifting through all of the packs purchasing only the handful that is “hot”.
After searching the internet on this, I’ve come to the realization that not only are there many techniques to find the packs, but people are actually selling the information on how to find them. So there may be only ten to fifteen people who are the main “hot pack” sellers through the internet, but by selling their methods they are multiplying their kind at an alarming rate. After looking through the situation on eBay, I ventured over to Youtube. Once I searched for it, there were pages and pages of videos from people of all ages from middle school kids to people in their forties and fifties. Not only do people who make these videos show their pack breaks, but many of them also explain what methods they used to get the packs in details.
I decided to try out some of a seller’s packs, so I bought eight packs of 2008 UD SP Authentic Baseball. Now let’s think about the product, there are typically three hits per box with one being a By The Letter autograph. The first thing I did when I got the packs was check to the best of my ability to see if the packs were resealed, which I deemed they had not been. Each pack I received had the guaranteed autograph which had been promised by the seller, but all eight were rookie autographs. Through research on the internet, I had learned that these “pack searchers” can feel for what exact kind of autograph or game used card is in the pack. So after reading that, I found it completely reasonable that I did not get a By the Letter autograph or autographed and game used card. I assume the seller opens those packs and sells them on eBay separately.
So let’s say the man who sold me the “hot packs” was never wrong when searching through packs of 2008 UD SP Authentic. A retail pack at a store like Target can cost $2.99; the man buys three packs which cost him under ten dollars after taxes. He figures out which one has the rookie autograph and puts the pack up on eBay for $13.99. Just selling that one pack already nets him a profit. He walks away with the other one or two more premium hits which he could open himself and sell out of the pack or he could sell a pack with a By The Letter autograph for an even higher amount. I think most collectors know; you never make a profit when it comes to card collecting nor do you expect to
Now here’s the main issue: should people be despised by the collecting world for doing this pack hunting? Personally, I think there’s a difference between a guy going to a retail store and doing it, and a hobby shop owner/worker going through his own opened boxes. I believe it is a hobby shop owner’s purpose to provide quality product and give the collector up close attention with information about all of the products which he sells. If he is heavily depleting the quality of hits in the loose packs he sells, then it is not a hobby shop for collectors, it is a money pit which is not right. A retail store is different, they do not have a person watching the cards at all times and most workers who are not collectors could not care less if someone is searching through the cards. The hobby store on the other hand has someone there at all times and the loose packs are typically behind a counter where customers cannot reach them. I can possibly see why a hobby shop owner would go through his packs; the number of hobby stores around the nation has decreased heavily with the emergence of the internet, and they can’t compete with the prices most of the time.
After testing out the hot packs I can say that if you consider buying a hot pack or two and you think the price is good, chances are what you are going to get will not match up with what you spent. Greedy people like those who take these steps to find packs, are in it for as much profit as they can get and not to help you get the premium cards you crave. Also, the fun of card collecting is opening up packs with no guarantee. There’s nothing better than opening a pack to find an awesome autograph when you least expect it. As a collector, I think that if you lose that feeling and go the route of these sellers, you will lose interest in collecting altogether after a while. Is saving a couple dollars really worth the excitement of just being another collector looking for that seemingly one in a million Ruth jersey card?
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