30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

80's Stores with Exclusive Super Gloss Sets

Shopping has been a source of entertainment for me for as long as I can remember... even if it involved window shopping.  These days... a high percentage takes place online.  But today we go old schoolToday we're heading into some retail chains from my youth.  To be more specific... 1988.

Back in the day, Topps started partnering with retail stores to produce 33 card box sets that collectors could only purchase exclusively at that store.  And unlike the present day where you can find a Target location in just about every major city in this country, most of these stores were regional.  Remember... this was before people bought, sold, or traded cards on the internet... which explains why some of these sets eluded my collection for years... even decades.

Are you ready to hit up some 80's stores with some really cool exclusive super glossy sets 

Let's go...

Store #1Revco

1988 Topps Revco League Leaders #1

Founded: 1956
Closed Up Shop1997

According to Wikipedia, Revco was a discount drug store located in the Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic states, and in the Southeastern part of the United States.  I've personally never shopped there, but was familiar with the name prior to owning this card.

Topps teamed up with Revco to honor baseball's league leaders.  They did a good job with this card by referencing both of Gwynn's batting titles won up to this point in his career.  Based on my research (TCDB), this was the only time the two companies joined forces.

Store #2Kay Bee Toys

1988 Topps Kay Bee Superstars of Baseball #13

Founded: 1946
Closed Up Shop2009

Kay Bee Toys was a mall-based toy store.  I don't remember seeing them in 1988, but in the 90's, I'd hit up the different KB's in my area searching for Kenner Starting Lineups.  Later in the decade, I'd drive down to their Gilroy Outlet location, because they had a decent selection of discounted trading card boxes.

Topps collaborated with Kay Bee to produce five baseball sets from 1986 to 1990.  The subject of their 1987, 1988, and 1989 sets was Superstars of Baseball.  Out of all of the card backs in today's post, this is my favorite.  It resembles the 1971 Topps baseball card backs.

Store #3Kmart

1988 Topps Kmart Memorable Moments #12

Founded as Kresge's: 1899
Renamed Kmart: 1977
Closed Up ShopNA (less than 50 stores in the US)

Kmart was the 70's and 80's version of Target and Walmart.  When I was a kid, I was embarrassed that my parents shopped there.  It's one of those memories where I shake my head... because I'm sure my parents were embarrassed by me acting like such a snob.

The 1982 MVP Anniversary set is the first thing I think of when I hear the words Topps and Kmart.  But they also partnered up to produce four 33 card boxed sets later in the decade.  The 1988 set featured Memorable Moments of the Eighties.

Although Gwynn winning the 1987 NL Player of the Month for June is pretty cool... I wouldn't classify it as a memorable moment of the 80's.  I probably would have went with him winning a batting title and helping his team reach the World Series in his first full season in the league.

Store #4Rite-Aid

1988 Topps Rite Aid Team MVP's #11

Founded: 1962
Closed Up ShopNA (approximately 2,450 stores in the US)

Rite Aid is one of those drug stores similar to Long's or Thrifty's.  Right around the time this set was released, I was scooping ice cream at Thrifty's, which was later acquired by Rite Aid.  There's a store less than a mile away from my doorstep.  I haven't been there in years, but whenever I walk into that place, it reminds me of those days working at Thrifty's.

This set appears to have been a one-and-done partnership between Topps and Rite Aid.  Its theme is Team MVP's and Gwynn was a wise pick by these two corporations to represent the Padres in this set.  As expected... every MLB team had at least one person represented in this set.  However since there are 33 cards in this set, there are several teams with multiple players represented.  Remember... back in 1988 there were only 26 MLB teams.

If you're wondering who had the most players represented in this set, that honor went to the 1987 World Series Champions.  They have four players on the checklist: Kirby Puckett, Jeff Reardon, Gary Gaetti, and Frank Viola.

Store #5Woolworth

1988 Topps Woolworth Baseball Highlights #12

Founded: 1879
Closed Up Shop1997

Wikipedia names Woolworth's as one of the original pioneers of the five-and-dime store.  When I hear the name, my first thought are the sit-ins that took place back in the early 60's.  I can't remember shopping there myself, but I'm sure I stepped into one of their stores at one point or another.

The first time Topps and Woolworth partnered up was back in 1985 when they featured some of MLB's All-Time Record Holders.  From 1987 to 1991, they produced a set featuring Baseball's Highlights.  The 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991 sets use almost the same design.  I was hoping to use Gwynn as an example to show you this, but he only made it into the 1988 set.

But here's at look at Andre Dawson's four cards from each of these four sets:

COMC Images

Getting back to Gwynn...

His card highlights him winning his second batting title in 1987.  That year he also won his second Gold Glove Award and his third Silver Slugger Award.

Well that wraps up our tour of stores that Topps teamed up with back in 1988 to produce some cool glossy 33 card sets.  A special shout-out goes to Peter over at Baseball Every Night who inspired this post by sending me the Revco Gwynn at the start of this post.

Thank you Peter!

Here is today's question of the day...

Out of the five stores mentioned in today's post... how many have you shopped at?

Do you have any fond memories involving any of these stores?

As usual... I look forward to reading and responding to your comments.  Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


gcrl said...

I bought sets as they were released at Kmart and KayBee. I didn't have access to the other stores where I grew up.

The one memory I have of KayBee outside of seeing cards at the counter is when the store manager followed me in to the mall record store (Musicland) because he suspected me of stealing something. I had not and I think he was disappointed to find that I had not.

Nick Vossbrink said...

In 1988 I think I only ever saw KayBee. Never got the cards there though. For some reason the Rite Aids completely slid past my checklist. Gonna have to remedy that. Also you didn't include the ToysRUs boxed set here.

Oh, and 33 cards is because with 132-card sheets Topps could print 4 boxed sets per sheet.

Big Tone said...

I've got to get my hands on that Rite Aid set at some point. I still have a few from my childhood but they are in horrible shape. K- Mart never disappointed, releasing a baseball card set every year it seemed. I've never heard of Revco.

night owl said...

Revco, I've never seen. All the other ones I know very well.

KayBee Toys: Where I shopped for toys for my kid when she was very little. The store was tiny, a screaming fire hazard, and there were no cards.

Rite-Aid: Been in them a whole bunch of times. There were a couple in town that also sold cards up until a couple years ago when they each closed up. I've posted about finding cards there on my blog a few times. But I don't remember seeing them as a kid.

Kmart: Who hasn't shopped at Kmart? I remember when it opened where I grew up. My brother got a job there. He has lots of stories. We bought the 1982 Kmart set there. I remember there being a whole wall of those boxes as you walked into the store.

Woolworth: There was a store in the town where my grandmother lived. It seemed very old-timey. I never saw cards there.

I have a whole bunch of those boxed sets thanks to a very generous collector he sent them to me a couple of years ago.

Jeff B - Wax Pack Wonders said...

I think I've only been to Kmart and Kaybee, but possibly a Rite Aid at some point, though there aren't any around here.

Jason Presley said...

I'd been to Revco and Rite Aid, but never bought cards there. I remember buying the 1987 KMart set, and I bought both of the sets from Hills. The Woolworths here in Huntsville closed the year I moved here, so I was only in it once, and again never bought any cards there. I only ever bought cards on clearance at KayBee. I remember picking up a few boxes of the 1991 LineDrive AA and AAA cards for like $1.99 each.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

Been in all five. Back in the day, K-mart and Woolworth's had a "diner" inside. Woolworth's was basically a counter with stools like you would imagine a soda fountain set up.

John Sharp said...

KayBee and KMart for sure. Not sure I've been to the others.

Brett Alan said...

I think I've been to all except Revco.

My only real memory of Kay-Bee is that I think I found a gift for my friend's daughter there one year. I used to get tagged to find the one hard-to-find present every Christmas. I want to say it was an Angelina Ballerina thing.

Shopped at KMart quite a bit when I first started living on my own. My parents never went there. More recently, when I came back to the hobby it was a key place to find marked-down cards. The ones I frequented all seem to be gone now.

Been to Rite Aid from time to time, but what sticks out is that when Rite Aid merged with Eckerd, my town had one of each, right across the street from each other. For a while they were both Rite Aids until the lease for one ended. One wag said that we had "Rite Aid and Left Aid"!

Woolworths I've certainly been to, but I can't recall much specific about it. Never shopped their regularly, I don't think.

Elliptical Man said...

Never even seen a Revco.

Shopped at all the others - Rite Aid many times in San Diego, Kmart a few times in Santa Rosa, Kay Bee a few times in Modesto, and Woolworth only once in New Orleans.

sg488 said...

1. Never heard of Revco 2.KayBee toys alot for my niece/nephew birthday/x-mas presents.K-mart,Rite-Aid,and Woolworth all the time.Did you forget about Toy R Us(closed up a couple years ago)?I had a couple of nice sets from them in the late 80s.

The Lost Collector said...

I think I've actually been to all five, although Woolworth would have been when I was very, very small. But I definitely remember going to one with my mom in our "downtown" section of the city. Revco was in my city when I was growing up, and I remember them advertising cards a lot in the Sunday advertising inserts. I got more "real toys" than cards at KayBee, such as GI Joes. I remember they always had weird brands of cards, like Classic and Press Pass.

Big Tone said...

😂 My Rite Aid is smack dab in the middle of the city. Very urban. I call it "Rite-On! "

gregory said...

KayBee and Woolworth bring back lots of great childhood memories, not only for baseball cards, but also for toys and model kits. I can still picture the rack of Testors model paint in those little glass jars. Excellent post, Fuji!

Matt said...

My hometown has seen K-mart and Rite-Aid close up shop in the past two years. I also remember KB toys at the local mall when I first moved to Virginia, but that closed up maybe a year later.

Fuji said...

gcrl - i never saw cards at the counter at my local kaybee stores. just boxes in a special section. and that kaybee manager was hard core... following you into the record store. that's crazy. btw... i miss mall record stores

nick vossbrink - i didn't include toys r us... because they featured rookies (actually 2nd year cards) and gwynn wasn't featured in it. but you're right, it's a store set and one of my personal favorites

big tone - i'm sure you can find one of those rite aid sets for under $5 shipped on ebay. as for k-mart i can still remember this huge display of those 1982 mvp sets. they had hundreds (maybe thousands) of those sets

night owl - at my k-mart there was a display at the entrance (like a pallet) with a ton of those mvp sets. i feel like it was there for years. i remember you receiving those boxed sets. super jealous. i've slowly been adding some to my collection over the years.

jeff b - it's sad to see all of these stores disappearing. couldn't believe there are less than 50 kmarts remaining in the us.

jason presley - i think you're the first commenter to state you've been to a revco. glad there's another collector out there who remembers kaybee's clearance boxes. they were so much fun to open

johnnys trading spot - nice. batting 1.000. i remember getting popcorn at kmart from their food area. and i can picture the woolworth's counter, because i've seen documentaries on the civil rights movement

john sharp - kaybee and kmart are the two i've visited the most as well.

brett alan - i think the "hard to find" present topic would make an excellent blog post. i remember people chasing cabbage patch kids and talking elmos. never realized kmart had cards outside of those boxed sets from the 80's. maybe i should have shopped there more often.

elliptical man - i've never seen a revco either. looks like that's the store frequented the least among commenters. by the way... love that you've traveled so much. i hope to do some traveling myself one day.

sg488 - i love the toys r us rookie sets and how they used the same design over the years. the reason i didn't include them in this post is b/c gwynn didn't have a card in the 1988 set. actually he didn't have a card in any of the toys r us rookies sets.

the lost collector - pretty cool that you had a revco in your city... especially since most of us have never been to one and some have never even heard of them. i totally know what you mean about "weird brands" at kaybee. i remember even seeing country music cards there. they also had boxes of coke and pepsi cards. plus lots of nascar.

gregory - oh man... i remember the model kit aisle. i was the guy who always started the model, but never finished it. i probably only built 5 model sets in my lifetime and they were all of the snap variety (no clue).

matt - i'm wondering when the rite aid down the street from me will close its doors. i rarely see any cars in the parking lot.

Bo said...

I think I have all of these sets but never got them in the stores they came from, though I did buy cards at Rite Aid, KB and Kmart. KB I remember the most, I think we went there more than Toys R Us as a kid. I remember going to Woolworth when I was small, in the 1980s, I don't think they had lunch counters at that point. Revco was bought by CVS in the 1990s. I don't remember them but there were some on Long Island - I even did a wallet card post on one of their remnants.

Sean said...

I miss big retailers from the 80s.

Being Canadian we didn't have a lot of those, though we did have K-Mart and Woolworths. I particularly remember Woolworths because there was a Woolco near my grandparents house and they would take me and my sister there for toy shopping when we would visit. In Canada actually the Woolcos were all converted into Walmarts in the mid-1990s, I remember being really sad when that happened.

We also had a retailer called Zellers, which was sort of the Canadian version of K-Mart (I remember being embarassed that my parents bought my clothes there when I was a teenager!). They made some baseball cards of the Expos and Blue Jays I think.

SumoMenkoMan said...

Woolworth stores still exist in Germany. That is one part of the company that survived.

Comatoad said...

Great job using the Gwynn cards as the models for this particular blog.
I used to take the kids to a Kaybe at a retail outlet. I'd let them pick out a toy or game, while I picked up a few boxes of cards. Woolworth is a given in the Midwest, as is K-Mart. In fact, I actually worked security at a K-Mart in Davenport, Iowa, after I got out of the Navy (and I did catch a kid after I saw him and a buddy stealing baseball cards)

Jason Presley said...

Had to wait for clearancr at KB. They were the only store I knew of that almost always priced their new cards above retail. And then they didn't sell (I wonder why?) and were all put on clearance.

Fuji said...

jason presley - kinda glad they priced it so high... because we were able to swoop in and get them on the clearance racks ;D

bo - i'm like you... most of the boxed sets from the 80's weren't purchased from the stores themselves. i'm sure i purchased a handful here or there, but the only one i remember grabbing is the 1982 kmart set. it's a tough call between toys r us and kaybee. i've spent a lot of money at both stores over the years, but more money at kaybee in regards to cards. love the wallet card posts you write. i'll have to look up revco on your blog

sean - glad i'm not the only one embarrassed by parents. but in hindsight... i should have been way more appreciative back then. i've spent my adulthood trying to let them know how important the are to me.

sumomenkoman - that's cool. do they still have diners with lunch counters?

comatoad - nice. do you remember what kind of packs they were stealing? i got busted for stealing baseball cards back in 1986. i've written about it before. not my fondest moment.

Jongudmund said...

Oh wow. I did not see these when I started my little series on store exclusives. I've got a surprise for you with the Woolworth cards!

Spyda-Man said...

I loved the Ames Topps 20/20 club set from 1989. So many great players in the set including Bo Jackson!

Nick Vossbrink said...

Only took me 10 days to order and receive the Rite Aid Giants from Sportlots so thanks for that. :p

Fuji said...

jongudmund - saw your post. great job.

spyda-man - just looked at the checklist. i like how they included guys like jeffrey leonard, dwayne murphy, and kevin mcreynolds too.