Well, that is until last week when Topps released the Bowman Inception product. I like this product and have picked up cards from the set the last few years. One of the last Inception card I picked up was a really cool green Oscar Taveras autographed card. Really sweet.
I liked this card so much that I actually almost asked my local card dealer about pricing out a box of Inception. When it released I checked out the auctions on Ebay and could not find a single Cardinals card. I check the Rays too, but nothing. I left it for a day or so before I had to go to Cardboard Connections to check out the checklist. That's when I realized that I had been shutout.
I do not go into opening a box thinking I am going to pull a Cardinals or Rays card, but the possibility to do so makes a lot of difference. I think about it this way: If there are few cards that I would be happy pulling from a box of cards why buy the box when I can let others assume the risk and simply buy the singles? I know if you are a hobby shop owner right now I probably pissed you off a little bit with that last sentence, but it has nothing to do with hobby shops and everything to do with companies like Topps.
Beyond selling boxes it also lessens the opportunity that hobby shops have to sell singles back to collectors which is an important revenue stream for many hobby shops. Think about the Taveras autograph above. I don't remember how much I even paid for it at this point, but lets give it the round number of $25. Some percentage of that $25 was profit for my local card shop, but beyond that the card got me in the door. I am sure that I just didn't buy a card while I was in hanging out at the store.