Skip to content

Retail Review: Mystery Pack from Wal-Mart

October 12, 2011

I should preface this article by saying I have very little willpower when it comes to buying hockey cards.

In the case of almost any other product or item I am fully capable of stopping myself from making unnecessary purchases.  Not so with hockey cards.  If I see it, I immediately want to buy it.  In short, I am the definition of an impulse shopper.  No matter how much I try to talk myself out of it, 99% of the time I just cannot seem to help myself.

Wal-Mart and Toys R Us are my worst enemies for my impulse card shopping.  Every single trip to these stores inevitably leads me to the card rack, which in turn ends up with me buying yet another thing that I probably did not need to buy.

One of the more regular impulse buys that I find myself making are the NHL Trading Card mystery packs that are often available at my local Wal-Mart.

Contained within each pack is a purported $50 in “catalogue value” of NHL trading cards for just $14 plus taxes.  The repackaging company also claims that 1 in 10 packs will contain $100 in “catalogue value”.

I don’t often rely on price guides as a true gauge of the “value” of a card, however the “$50 in catalogue value” is helpful when it comes to looking at these packs form a “flip it on eBay” standpoint.

Researching realized sales figures on eBay to help set prices for the literally thousands of items I have available to sell in my store is just far too time consuming of a task to undertake, so I am forced to rely a guide to help set the majority of my sales prices.

Generally, I base those prices on the “low” price of a card according to Beckett Hockey.  Experience has taught me that these mystery packs are based on the “high” price.  Given that the low price is typically around 40% of the high price, $50 in “catalogue value” means I should get cards that I can list online for about $20 at worst.

In other words: potentially profitable (albeit somewhat thin on the margin).

Potentially profitable is also potentially helpful in pursuit of my goal of a financially self-sufficient hobby though.  Even with a thin potential profit margin, it still beats the uncertainty of most of what’s available in retail outlets, making them an attractive option when I’m in need of a card fix.

Back in August, I came across a couple of posts by Dave at Wax Stain Rookie about a pair of “Mystery Packs” that he had purchased and reviewed on his blog (first break, second break).

The mystery packs that Dave reviewed were slightly different from the mystery packs I was used to buying, but seeing that Dave had found some piqued my interest, especially after seeing the Roenick autograph card Dave pulled in the first break (one I would love to add to my collection!).

When I was in Wal-Mart recently my mind immediate flashed back to Dave’s posts and before I knew it I was off to the card rack despite the fact that I wasn’t in Wal-Mart to buy cards that day.

Sure enough, there were the mystery packs.  Not the same packs I had just read and watched reviews of, but the packs I was used to buying in the past.  What was very pleasantly surprising this time around was that the packs were marked down by 50% to just $6.97.  That potential profit margin I mentioned just got quite a bit larger!

So I added a pack to my cart full of things I actually needed and headed home to crack it open.  In the past I have had some decent luck from these packs, the best of which involved pulling a 93-94 Fleer Ultra Adam Oates Career Highlights card that I was able to flip in my store for about $40.

While this pack did not yield a return quite like that, I was still very happy when I pulled a complete set of 2001-02 Pacific Vanguard East Meets West inserts from the white envelope within the blister pack.


These cards were inserted at a rate of 1 in 97 packs in a product that I remember being as being about mid-level at the time of its release.  That’s obviously fallen off since Pacific closed up shop and tons of its products began flooding into the market, but knowing that it would have taken cracking nearly 1000 packs to assemble this set still makes the return quite worthwhile in my books.

The set itself has a relatively attractive design and is loaded with top-level (and generally very collectible) talent featured on each card.  One star from overseas represents the East on each card and is paired with a North American born counterpart who represents the West.  A special bonus in this set for me is that of the 20 players featured in the set, no fewer than one-quarter of the players pictured are wearing the sweater of my beloved Detroit Red Wings.

Unfortunately I already have the Yzerman and Lemieux cards in my collections, so the purchase will end up being a straight eBay flip attempt, but it was still a nice break either way.

Sure enough the set as a whole books at a high price of exactly the $50 the packaging promises.  Broken down individually by the low price according to Beckett though, I can list these cards at a sum total of $32, meaning I only need to sell a handful of them to break even and a sale of each card means a tidy profit.

Conveniently, each of the ten cards from this Mystery Pack break are available as a part of my October Auction Series as of tonight!  Apologies for the shameless self-promotion of these auctions, just trying to raise some much-needed Toronto Fall Expo funds!

Once again it was another fun retail break and one that I look forward to reviewing one again sometime in the future.

If you are interested in any of the cards just visit my eBay Store and drop in a bid.  If any happen not to sell then they’ll immediately be available for trade as well.

As always, feel free to get in touch by posting a comment, email me at, or connect on Twitter and Facebook.

Until Sunday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2011 8:02 AM

    Nice post…I have been tempted to try one of those mystery boxes and have managed to abstain so far….Good to know what to expect!

    Thanks for sharing and good luck with the auctions!


  1. Retail Review – PressTine Hockey Card Surprise Box | the blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: