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?