SewingMachineGuy posted a picture of his local Wally World card aisle yesterday. The condition of the card aisle at his store mirrors the condition of the aisles at my local stores.
I have a choice of 6 different Wally Worlds to shop at depending on the direction I drive. Five of those are within a 10 mile radius of my house and I pass another one on the way to work every day. The card aisles at all 6 are very different. I wondered about that until I happened to stop by the card aisle one day and the vendor was there stocking the shelves. I asked her why the stores varied so much and she said it all depends on the vendor who supplies a particular store. Of the 5 stores closest to me, she only stocked one and said the other 4 had two different vendors. The store she stocks has a limited selection and so do two of the other stores. One store has a good selection and one store is the one where I find discounted blasters. The vendor told me she "knows" some of the local "collectors" because they will sometimes be waiting for her to arrive at a store and will start weighing the packs with a scale. I laughed and said those guys are called "packsearchers" and most legitimate collectors consider them the scum of the earth because they aren't collecting, they are poaching to sell the "hits" on ebay for a buck or two. As you might imagine, she didn't care about the packsearchers until I told her I don't buy packs if I can tell a packsearcher has been rummaging through the boxes. (That's not true, but don't tell her!) It always comes down to money and she seemed upset that they might be costing her some sales.
I like to shop at the store that carries discounted blasters. Sometime late last year I picked up a discounted 2007 Topps Turkey Red blaster and I bought 4 or 5 discounted blasters of 2008 Stadium Club. I'm always checking there for good stuff. Usually, it's picked over, but sometimes, like the Turkey Red, I find a box hidden behind other stuff.
One more thing the vendor told me is that I should talk to the vendors if I get a chance. It never hurts to let them know what cards your most interested in because they might be able to find something different when they stock up.
I know a lot of people refuse to buy retail. I get it. I don't blame them. I also understand why some people buy retail. It's more widely available and generally cheaper. My local card shop is so overpriced, I only buy supplies and the occasional older pack from him.
I am looking forward to buying a couple of Hobby boxes of 2010 Ginter and participating in this year's version of Gint-A-Cuffs. I'll be buying those on-line though...last year the shop was about$40 higher than the on-line shops on a box of A&G.