30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, December 14, 2015

Costco and The Junk Wax Era

Life was so much simpler when I was a kid.  Back then I collected because I enjoyed sorting my cards into different categories and every now and then discovering a card with a funny photo or a great looking action shot.

However everything changed in 1987.  That's the year that the Costco in my neighborhood started carrying baseball cards and I morphed from a collector into an investor.

Up until that point, I primarily had built my collection from busting packs every now and then.  But that year I begged my mom into loaning me some money, so I could buy a bunch of boxes of 1987 Topps baseball.  I sat there for hours on the living room floor ripping into the boxes and sorting the cards into sets and player lots.

I thought that one day that investment would pay off and make me rich.  Unfortunately... so did millions of other collectors.  I personally believe that Costco and Price Club commenced The Junk Wax Era... essentially changing the way I collect entirely.  Whether or not that's a good thing is still being determined.

But today's post isn't really about Costco or The Junk Wax Era.  It was just an excuse to show of some of my favorite cards from one of my favorite sets of the decade.

You might not remember... but back in 2013, I actually ranked the 80's Topps baseball card designs and considered these to be one of the decade's worst.

I think the sheer number of packs that I busted left a sour taste in my mouth and created decades worth of disdain for this card design.  But time heals all wounds.

Today... it's my second favorite... right behind the 1983 set.  Once upon a time, I though the wood-grain borders were obnoxious and over the top.  However... I've switched gears and now embrace the design feature most associated with this set.  I also like the inclusion of the team's logo and the decision to use the team's colors in the rectangular box that houses the player's name.

What about you...

Did you buy cards at Costco in the 80's?  What are you thoughts on the 80's version of Cardboard Woodies?

Looking forward to reading your responses.  I hope you all have a great week.  Happy Monday and sayonara!


  1. "Costco And The Junk Wax Era"? Isn't that a Smashing Pumpkins album?

    My previous experiments with warehouse clubs were not successful - no matter how low the unit price is, 5 pounds of pepper for two people is never a good deal - so I didn't even know that Costco ever sold cards. Probably just as well.

    Even though it has some classic cards in the 1987 Topps set - I like that Kevin Mitchell particularly - and even though it is the set for the year after my Mets won the World Series... Despite that, I view it as a middle of the road set. Even limiting it to the 1980's, I think I'd rank it #5 after (in chronological order) 1980, 1983, 1986 and 1988.

    Besides, there are no Topps cards to commemorate that 1986 World Series, and I will admit to resenting that.

  2. There wasn't any warehouse clubs in my area back then. There was a flea market held every weekend where I would buy boxes of 1987 Topps for $15 a box. I bought a lot of boxes...I had gotten back into enjoying baseball cards after about a 4 year hiatus. So the 1987 set brings back a lot of good memories for me.

  3. I didn't buy at Costco. I did buy a few factory sets at our grocery chain, Jewel. I'm lukewarm on the design but I'm more about the photography anyways.

  4. I did not purchase cards at Costco at that point in time. I am the same age as you, and I had a summer job umpiring local softball games for girls around my age and in between my own baseball games. It was a good gig, and a lot of my money from that went into buying rack packs of 1987 Topps at the local grocery store.

    I love the 1987 set -- not as much as 1983 or 1982, but it's right up there as a favorite. For a short time, I thought about trying to assemble a fully autographed 1987 set, but gave that up based on the sheer enormity of the set.

  5. I didn't know Costco sold cards...don't think they do nowadays, but no, I've never bought from a warehouse club. My first pack purchases were at the local Walgreens of 1987 Topps, so that set is pretty special to me. I thought the wood borders were great, and it's entirely possible that the hobby wouldn't have stuck with me if I started in 86 or 88.

  6. Ha, the funny thing is I sent you a 1987 Topps card today! Don't worry; it's a thing.

  7. What's a Costco?

    I did myself a giant Topps countdown. '87 Topps is in there somewhere. I'm not going to repeat myself. ... not here anyway.

  8. My area doesn't have a Costco.....We have Sam's Club. Most of the cards purchased for me at this time were places like Ames, Kmart and gas stations.

  9. We never had a need for Costco, though at some point when I was in college my family somehow got into a BJ's membership. Actually, it was good for me because they had a gas station and of course it was much cheaper. I didn't buy much in the store, though.

    But as a kid my friend's mom took me to a Costco for a first time, and it was awesome. This was in the early '90s but I do remember seeing a box of something there. And wanting it. I don't think I ever got it...

  10. The only cards I bought at Costco (may have been Price Club at the time) was a box of 1989 Upper Deck. It was such a hot product that you could only buy 1 box per member. The card to get was the Griffey RC of course and I was disappointed to not get one. I later got one but it left a sour taste in my mouth for Costco card purchases.

  11. 1987 Topps was my first-ever exposure to baseball cards. They'll always have an iconic look, and the couple dozen cards I had from that first pack or two (like McGwire and Ozzie) are etched in my memory for good.

  12. shlabotnik - the smashing pumpkins are encouraged to use that title... just throw me a bone. as for the set itself... the were towards the bottom of the list for me a few years ago. who knows... maybe they'll climb your list too.

    swing and a pop-up - didn't realize that flea markets were baseball card hot spots until the 90's. i think costco had those boxes for $10... but don't quote me on that.

    hackenbush - then i'm guessing 93UD is high on your list

    tony - wow... that would be a pretty awesome challenge. i haven't actually taken on the challenge, but i have probably 10 of the 86t base cards signed. as for the 87t set... i have a stamped ozzie smith signature.

    jafronius - costco hasn't carried cards in my area for years either. just shows that timing is everything.

    defgav - looking forward to seeing which one you sent :)

    night owl - 87t is 33rd on your list... which is a little further down than mine. at least we can agree that the 56t is #1.

    matthew - gas stations? nice. not sure if i ever picked up a pack at my local chevron.

    ryan - costco and college went together like ice cream and pie. purchased a lot of microwave popcorn and canned peaches from them back in the day.

    arpsmith - i remember them limiting certain boxes in the early 90's. never saw 89ud at my costco. 88s? yup. 89d? yes sir. 91f? definitely. but no 89ud.

    adam - you must have been stoked to pull that mcgwire out of those first few packs back in the day. he was on fire. well... at least in the bay area.