30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Morning Soapbox: Pack Searchers

I'm a huge fan of discussing "most" things related to sports cards... which is one of the reasons I created this blog. But this isn't the only place I go to talk "cardboard". I'll join discussions at card shows & card shops, in card forums, on other blogs & even over on YouTube.

Two weeks ago, I read Play at the Plate's great post: Interview with a packsearcher. Then this morning I came across a collector's post on the Sports Card Radio Forum, which asked the question... "What is your opinion on packsearchers?".

Well... today you're in for a treat. I'm going to hop on my soapbox and give my take on "searching packs". Like I tell my students... it's an opinion... it's not necessarily the "right" answer, but it's how I feel. Okay... are you ready? Let the preaching begin:

(courtesy of Blowout Cards)

I'm not a fan of people who search packs... mainly because I think it's detrimental to the hobby. I understand that it's not illegal, but personally I feel it's unethical.

Pack searchers increase the odds of them pulling hits and reduce the odds for everyone else. This might not bother some people, because many things in life involve increasing one's personal odds... but personally I think this particular situation is an exception.

When you reduce other collector's odds... you're hurting other collectors. Worse... these collectors may end up walking away from the hobby, because they never pull anything significant.

Or the flipside (and to a much more rare extent)... what about those stories of people who started collecting, because they pulled a cool autograph or relic in the first pack they ever opened? Pack searchers reduce the odds of these magical moments occurring.

Plus... pack searchers often damage the cards in the effort to find their hidden treasures. This is exactly why I'm against the whole "It's like picking fruit" argument (which essentially states that people often feel fruit before they buy it, so why is it wrong to feel packs of cards?). But trading cards and fruit are completely different things. It's understandable for customers to pick up a piece of fruit to see if it's firm or soft. But is it okay for people to squish fruits at the grocery store?

In my mind... it comes down to having respect (treating others the way you want to be treated) for the hobby and other collectors. Would it be okay for a card shop to search packs? Of course not! Then why is it okay for consumers?

Unfortunately... it's a part of our hobby and isn't going anywhere in the near future. But I'm a firm believer of the whole "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem" philosophy.

Okay... I'm officially stepping down from my soapbox (for today... stay tuned for future Sunday Morning Soapbox posts). Now it's your turn.

What's your opinion on pack searching?

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone. I'm headed over to my friend's house in a little bit to watch the game. Most people are either excited about the game or the commercials. But not I. I'm looking forward to pigging out on baked potatoes, tri tip, and a bunch of other high calorie goodies. Sayonara!


  1. of course i'm against pack searching, and you hit on some great points i didn't even think about.

    right on with your sunday morning opinionating(this time).

    p.s. i dont always comment here, but i enjoy reading your blog. keep up the good work.

  2. As always, I firmly agree with a post of this nature.We went grocery shopping at Walmart last night.My son and I went to check the card aisle for new Topps. There were four open boxes of loose packs and there were all in shambles like someone had been searching. I bought two packs and got an'87 mini in each one.Josh settled for a couple rack packs to be safe.

    The fruit, to me, is totally different. It's all the same inside.You check for soft spots and so does the next person. Actually it's the person who doesn't squeeze the fruit that gets home with an over ripe or rotton pear !

  3. stealing home - thanks for taking the time to comment today. i appreciate all of my readers whether or not they comment :-)

    baseball dad - thanks for making me realize i need to clarify my post. i totally agree with you. i'm all for picking up a piece of fruit and giving it a little squeeze (i even smell them). what I meant to say is that i wouldn't squish them to the point where they're unedible.

    i'm off to revise my post!

  4. A+++++ Amen. I couldn't agree more. We are on the same page on this one my friend. Can't stand pack searchers. I feel like they are the lowest form of dirt in the collecting universe.

  5. It's one of those obnoxious things some people do. Like getting in the 10 items or less lane with 20 items.

  6. I'm against it. I don't have big bucks to spend on boxes, so I try to pick up packs here and there. I'm becoming more and more reluctant to do this because of pack searchers at retail stores.

  7. I think it's just pathetic. It's not like it's 1992 and you may score a HUGE MOJO HIT #/10,000 or something.
    Plus, if I buy a damaged pack of cards, I may very well hurt the next pack searcher I see.

    The latest thing around here is Blaster searching.
    Go to Wally World, buy a couple of hockey blasters, open them, take out the hits and Young Guns, put the base cards back in their wrappers and re-seal the box using clear wrap and a heat gun.

    If the wrap isn't water marked with the company logo... don't buy it!!!!!!!

  8. LOL ! Hope you didn't get the wrong impression. I didn't mean it that way ! You didn't really have to revise ! I was just say'in ...

    I agree with Hackenbush too, the 10 item line thing.

  9. I don't like pack searchers..but it really does not affect me because I only buy one pack of topps base once in a while..spend most of my budget on vintage

  10. definitely against it, especially since I don't have a real LCS near me. I have bought alot of my cards retail and it's disheartening knowing that the odds of pulling a hit are greatly diminished. The semi-local shop near work has their "good" stuf nehind the counter and does not let the customer pick anything. You might be able to specify which pack you'd like to try, right side, 3rd pack down but that's it. I've actually had some good luck with the dicounted stuff at Target lately and my first relic pull was from a $1.59 pack. And I really loath getting home with several packs that have been "searched" and open to find bent or severely creased cards.

  11. jaybarkerfan - no doubt... cheating other collectors is not cool!

    hackenbush - lol... i hate it when that happens to me at the grocery store. it's funny... the cashier never says anything either.

    the lost collector - you're the collector this post was written for. i rarely ever buy packs... or even boxes for that matter, so pack searchers don't hurt me directly. but they hurt the hobby that i am a part of.

    captain - blaster searching? are you kidding me? that takes a lot of nerve and definitely crosses the line between being legal and illegal. can't believe people would stoop this low.

    baseball dad - lol... no i needed to fix it. i'm glad i caught it early. it's funny... i always give my students a hard time about their vagueness. hopefully they didn't read this post.

    markz - i don't bust much wax either, but it still bothers me that other collectors are impacted.

    dawgbones - retail odds are tough enough without having to worry about pack searchers. i've never bought packs from my local shop, but they're like your local shop... they keep the packs behind the counter.

  12. I wonder if there's some solution that would be cheap enough for companies to implement. Like Captain Canuck said, even the shrink wrapped blasters can be iffy. I supposed the logo-emblazoned wrap would do it. Seems like counterfeiting that would be more cost that it's worth. Ever since I witnessed a searcher at both the Target and Walmart nearest me, I won't touch loose packs or rack packs. I'm not so worried about missing hits since I'm more of a set builder, but I don't want the damaged cards that I then have to put in the "I have this card, but need an upgrade" list.

  13. lifetimetopps.wordpress.comFebruary 5, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    I'm even stronger against it than your post. I think it probably is something illegal, not just unethical. It's just not a large enough scale for Target/Walmart/Card Companies to care about. Pack searchers often damage the other cards in the pack - and I'm pretty sure if you ran around smashing the china in a china store you'd a) have to pay for it and b) risk getting arrested.

  14. lifetimetopps.wordpress.comFebruary 5, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    Oh - also - that picture is hilarious. It's clearly taken in Cincinnati. As a born and bred Cincy native - I'd notice a to go bag of Skyline chili a mile away!

  15. matt - it definitely hurts the set builders, when they damage the cards. it's crazy that people would go through all of the trouble to reseal a box of retail blasters. blows my mind.

    lifetimetopps - i agree... as soon as cards are damaged, it's an illegal act.

  16. I think my opinion is well documented, but I think pack searchers are sleazy.

    Baseball Dad, rack packs aren't immune to pack searchers. One of the first packsearchers I ever talked to was running his fingernail down rack packs of Bowman looking for sticker autos. He said he was "very good" at it. He didn't like being called a douchebag to his face.

    I always check the wrap on the blasters I buy because of the very thing Captain Canuck mentioned. It's sad...

    Also, I wouldn't be shocked to find out the guy at my LCS is pack searching his own product. I've never seen him do it, he's just that kind of guy. That's why I typically only buy supplies there and the odd pack of older Chrome.

  17. As I think everybody else said, I'm against pack searching beyond a cursory glance. It just isn't right. I bought retail packs fairly often in SF but I knew going in that I probably wouldn't get anything good. I had some luck though with flagship Topps last year, and I didn't buy more than a pack or two of any other product.

  18. I like getting boxes or packages of random packs now.
    I have pulled autos and game used but I love getting rookie cards.
    And 10 bucks for 10 packs is my way of getting rookie cards form various years.

    1. Sometimes it's hard to fight the urge when I see random packs at the Dollar Tree... but when I buy it, I just assume I won't get anything... so there isn't any disappointment.