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I will never buy a retail card pack in a store ever again, unless I see a store employee open the box and place it on the shelf in front of me.  Please make sure to take this post as your fair warning.  If you are buying retail packs at big box stores, you very well may be getting ripped off.  Card harvesters are rummaging through the boxes, damaging products, and in my opinion stealing the best cards from the boxes.  If you buy packs from the boxes that these people have already hit, I can almost guarantee you will not be getting a good hit on anything.

In one of my recent posts I mentioned that I saw packs in the 2014 Donruss box that were thicker than the others.  I decided to buy all the thick packs to see what would happen.  This led to me getting the Puig bat relic hit.  I decided to go to one more store to see if they had a box of the Donruss with the thick packs.  Upon walking up to the sports card display at the store I noticed most of the packs in the boxes had been turned on end and no longer in stacks.  I thought this was odd.  However, there were 5 thick packs left that I decided to buy.  The first box I saw with thick packs had 6.  After grabbing the 5 thick packs I got a few packs of Panini Draft Picks and a sealed box of clearance Panini football cards.

I checked out and went to the parking lot.  On this evening I had 2 hours to kill until an night meeting I had for work (thus leading to the 16 hour day that led to me missing a post the other night).  I planned on opening the packs in my car and writing a post from my phone as I wasted time.  My phone decided to die and I then realized my car charger was at home still packed in my bags from the Vegas trip.  No dice on the article getting posted, but I went ahead with opening the Donruss.  After opening a few packs I realized something was off about these packs.  The tops of the packs had been opened about a half an inch or less.  Someone had gone through all of the thick packs, peaked inside, found the pack with the nice hit and either bought it or stole it.  My first run in with card harvesting had just happened, and I say first because this is the first time I have picked up on it.  I am becoming a more educated card collector the hard way.

I went back into the store and told the worker at the customer service counter what I had found.  I had 2 packs of cards I had yet to open, but they still showed that someone had already peaked inside.  The worker was shocked but offered to give me a full refund.  I didn’t feel right taking a refund after opening some of the packs, but I did return the last 2 thicks packs that had been rummaged through.  The employee then alerted their store security of what I had clued them on to.  Let the thief in Vista, CA be forewarned, I have let your little secret out of the bag and I plan to spread the word to keep my readers from getting ripped off by your unethical practices.

I plead with you all today to only buy sealed boxes of product that have yet to be opened.  Do not fall victim to what I am coining as card harvesting.  If this is happening here, I am sure it is happening in other stores, not only in San Diego but across the country.  If this punk of a “collector” hit this store I am almost certain they are on a tour of other stores in the area doing the same thing.  In my mind this person(s) is harvesting cards and then flipping the hits on eBay for instant profit.  I will no longer fall victim to this activity and plan on placing all of my orders through Steel City from here on out.  Yes, Steel City is a partner of Wax Cracker, but I highly suggest you all follow suit and start ordering your cards from an online supplier or trusted local card shop.

I have done some research online and found numerous articles on people mentioning card rummaging at stores.  I am not posting breaking news here, the word has been out without me knowing it.  I just want to use the Wax Cracker platform to warn others.  Please help me spread the word to help protect other collectors.

In getting clued into card harvesting I figured out that I was doing the first step of harvesting myself.  I was going through the box of Donruss looking for thicker packs.  As a consumer I think I have the right to look through the packs and decide which ones I want to buy.  However, I put the packs I don’t buy back in a neat pile like I found them and never leave them disheveled.  The people that are taking it too far are slightly opening the packs to see what is inside.  I equate this step with stealing.

This will only be the first part of future articles that I will write on card harvesting.  Let’s band together and make sure we don’t get ripped off from here on out.  It’s quite coincidental that I just started talking with Sean from Steel City about people trying to figure out the contents of packs and boxes while in store pre-purchase.  I mentioned to Sean that I found an article touching on this subject recently.  I will have more on what Sean mentioned on this subject in an upcoming post.  Here is the article I discussed with Sean while still in Vegas: Pack Searching.  This article was my first clue into something being off about the card racks at retail stores.

Have you found yourself a victim of card harvesters?  How were you clued into what was happening?  What have you done since you found out about this kind of racket happening?

I am a smarter collector for going through this learning experience.  It’s not my worry to recommend what big box stores can do to curb this kind of behavior, that is if they even care.  It is my goal to help protect you all to help up the number of your good hits instead of falling prey to a card harvesting and getting stuck with all the common cards in the box.

Since I returned the rummaged through packs already without having a chance to take a picture of them, I am going to post a sample picture of one of my packs where I replicated how I found the packs after I bought them.  Keep any eye out for the following signs if you still plan to buy loose packs at the store:

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Beware of Card Harvesters when buying loose packs in stores. This is how I found some of the packs I had already bought after opening numerous packs before realizing what was going on.
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One of the signs that helped clue me into something not being right with my last purchase. All the packs in the boxes of nice cards were turned on end like this in the box, instead of being in stacks.
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The cards from the packs that I opened before realizing someone had already rummaged through them looking for insert cards.
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The cards from the packs that I opened before realizing someone had already rummaged through them looking for insert cards.
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The cards from the packs that I opened before realizing someone had already rummaged through them looking for insert cards.
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The cards from the packs that I opened before realizing someone had already rummaged through them looking for insert cards.