Retail Hobby Boxes–Say What?

Posted: June 9, 2013 by Crackin' Wax in Upper Deck
Tags: , ,
If you’re anything like me, then a stop at the card aisle in your local retail store is a must. If I’ve wandered off during a grocery shopping trip with my wife, she never needs to wonder where I am. She knows. Card aisle. Even in years that I’ve been on collecting hiatus, I’d still stop by to see what’s new.

My latest trip to the downtown Minneapolis Target yielded something I had not seen before. Sitting on the shelf next to brand new blasters and just beneath new rack packs were two hobby boxes–both 2004 Upper Deck Series 2.

A hobby box at a retailer? That’s odd. Stranger still is the particular product being sold. It’s a late series edition of mid-00s Upper Deck baseball–not exactly a stellar set. The box contains two hits on average, both jerseys. Perhaps we’ve been a bit spoiled since 2004 with the types of hits offered in standard hobby boxes. Knowing that the ONLY hits I’d be pulling would be jerseys is less than thrilling. Not only that, the price point seems a bit high. Yeah, it’s a hobby box at a retail store. Sure, it’s about $30 cheaper than it was in ’04. None of that is enough to make me want to slap $40 down on an overproduced and, frankly, boring product–especially when, if I really wanted to buy a box of ’04UDS2, I could buy it for much less online.

So, what’s the deal, here? Why in the world is Target selling hobby boxes? The answer is given away by the shelf price tag. The label lists the manufacturer as EXCELL, a distribution company out of Iowa. As far as trading cards are concerned (these hobby boxes in particular), Excell purchases unsold cards from hobby shops, other distributors, etc. and sends them out to retailers like Target and Wal-Mart to be sold. Target does not order any specific cards and the products stocked there by Excell are pay-per-scan–which is to say that no one makes any money off of these hobby boxes until someone buys one.

If I were an uneducated parent of a young collector who didn’t know better and saw what seemed to be a good deal on a hobby box, I might be tempted to buy one. However, knowing that any hobby boxes I find at a retailer are likely junk being resold by a distributor at (what I believe to be) an unreasonably high price, it’s a good bet I’ll never buy one.

While I believe that this type of hobby box reselling is relatively harmless (and practically pointless), it does make me wonder if NEW hobby sales at retailers is just around the corner? My guess is that, if this were to happen, retailers would have to have their card shelves stocked by distributors in much the same way they do with old hobby boxes thru Excell. The reason for that being that I highly doubt Topps, Upper Deck, Panini and other card companies will cease production of retail exclusive SKUs. Not only that, I really don’t feel that people want to spend high dollar amounts on one box of cards at a Target or Wal-Mart (my opinion, of course). I just don’t see new hobby boxes moving very well in these types of stores. So what would make anyone think that old junky hobby boxes would do any better–even if they are a bit cheaper?

Would or have you purchase(d) a re-distributed box at a retailer like the 2004 Upper Deck Series 2 baseball that I found at my local Target? What are your thoughts on the possibility of retailers carrying new hobby products?

  1. nighttimeowl says:

    I’ve seen hobby boxes in Walmart. As you say, the price is too high and it’s never anything I like. But when you first see them — in Walmart, of all places — it’s thrilling initially. I doubt anyone buys them.

  2. P-Town Tom says:

    I’m not into “old” product unless it is vintage or from a set I’m still trying to complete (yes, I’m looking at you 1994 Fleer Baseball).

    I would not have purchased this particular hobby box at your retail Target store.

    I will offer this though: all my 2013 card product purchases from Target list the cards as “Excell” on the receipt. I always wondered what “Excell” meant, and your post sheds some light on that. Did my Target get lazy and just refer to all cards as “Excell”, even the 2013 product which is obviously not repacked?

    • topher says:

      I’ll have to look at my receipts more closely, but I think that’s the fist time I’d seen “Excell” in any way associated with purchasing cards at Target. I doubt that they are distributing new products, but I suppose it is possible.

      • Paulie3jobs says:

        I’ll help out with this one Topher. Just came back from Target, purchased a 2013 GQ Value Pack and the receipt states “Excell”

        • topher says:

          I wonder if they contracted out Excell (and possibly other distributors) to help control early release issues at retailers? Wonder if this will impact costs in the future?

  3. Andrew Quillen says:

    Both of my local wal-marts have very small card sections that are poorly kept. Lot’s of loose packs in the wrong boxes etc. They have more of the super hero and Magic cards than they do sports offerings. But based on the lack of product disappearing between each time I’m there I doubt there are many other local collectors. At one of the stores there is a 2012 Topps Update blaster that has been the only one in stock for at least six months. It was still there today when I went in to buy a Gypsy Queen rack pack.

    Also, I doubt they would stock old hobby boxes as an experienced collector would pass. And a parent of a new collector would look at a hobby box from 2004 for $40 and see a newer full factory set next to it for the same price and almost certainly buy the set.

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