This is tough because I have different answers for different aspects of collecting. I like retail for the fun of opening packs, COMC for getting parallels or rare cards, Sportlots for filling in sets, Just Commons for starting a set, eBay for really hard to find stuff and/or bargains, and trading for getting autos/relics and generally making others happy with cards I don't want. Basically the only thing I can eliminate is LCS because I don't have one. I realize I didn't answer your question fully, but I gotta go with what I feel.
I get most of my needs through the monthly card show.
Trading is by far the best for receiving random cards, as I'm never quite sure to expect from my fellow bloggers. When I'm feeling selective, though, I usually go to Just Commons.
I look for unopened boxes of old/newer products on Amazon.com. I've gotten a lot of 90's Stadium Club and Collector's Choice stuff from there.
Trading is by far the best for random cards that fit my collection, group breaks for team sets, eBay for those that you must absolutely have, my LCS has some nice cards on occasion... and I've yet to try COMC
Favorite way of obtaining cards, by far, is at card shows. If only they would stop canceling them on me.
My favorite way is from the LCS. I may pay a little more, but it just feels right. It also livens up a lunch break. I should also shout out to dacardworld.com, which I find to be a wonderful online retailer.
I just like buying packs and being surprised at what I find. If I'm looking for a specific card, I just go to eBay.
eBay is the easiest way for me to add new cards to my PC's. I do love to trade though.
I don't have any local card option so for me it is either by trading or by buying unopened boxes. Since you asked for one, I'll say buying unopened boxes because I love ripping packs!
My favorite way of getting cards is trade....extra bonus for in person trading. The majority of my high end cards are eBay.
I'll say trading or eBay.
Which way do I prefer for obtaining cards? It's actually a really tricky question. Living in Japan, I have a bit of a handicap now when it comes to obtaining cards. These days, I use a vast variety of methods to get singles. For Japanese singles, I usually go to shops for the cheapies and use Yahoo Auctions for the better cards. Overall, Yahoo is cheaper than eBay per card (shipping being the big help) but generally limited to the new stuff. I've also won several MLB cards too, and for the 100ish card sets that BBM puts out, I can usually find a good deal. As for US cards, when I lived in the States I preferred shows. I spent hours going through nickel, dime, and quarter boxes. Some card stores had boxes like that so I checked those out too. But I've also found the joys of Sportlots, Just Commons, and COMC. Just Commons is perfect for cheap singles for my type collection, while COMC is really good for midrange inserts. Sportlots is great for some insert sets too because some dealers have lots of singles and it ends up being much cheaper than COMC.eBay used to be very important to me for singles, but as shipping prices have risen I've moved elsewhere. For some more-difficult singles it's a great source because prices in auctions can be much lower than the other sites. Sometimes I use it for full sets but that tends to be my limit.
Favorite is Zistle trading. I know that I am getting only things I need, and making someone else happy by giving them something they need. And all the hard-work of matching those up is done automatically.2nd favorite is the football repack boxes. Nothing like having 20 fresh packs awaiting you at the end of a long month.
I get most of my cards from Ebay but I also like COMC. I also plan on hitting Just Commons sometime and picking up a bunch of PC cards.
With my eclectic tastes Ebay works best for me.
Card shows for sure, but trading is rapidly becoming a close second.
EBay through COMC delivery, saves me a ton on shipping to Holland !!
Trading and COMC
Primary sources of cardseBay - hand collated sets, maybe assorted singles and/or lotsLCS - loose cards, loose packs and supplies Retail - Target for the blasters and hanger packs of the flagship Topps brand
eBay is where I get a lot of my single cards. For boxes I use one of the big e-tailers, usually Dave and Adam's because they have a lower free shipping threshold. I occasionally use JustCommons to flesh out a player collection or want list, and I use Sportlots very rarely. I like trading on Zistle, but I have been a slacker and haven't even responded to the last few trade requests I've received on there. But for me eBay is king.
ebay for specific cards, but I do love a blind trade because you never know what you are going to get.
Trade packages are great and are a close second, but I love card shows. Nothing beats looking through others' cards, which I could potentially purchase, for hours on end.
I like ripping packs, but that's pretty costly. I can spend hours in the junk boxes at the card shop. But I think I most enjoy getting a blind trade package in the mail.
Card shows..I only have a select few players or cards so most of the time i am looking for other bloggers wants.
eBay is the most common method for me to obtain cards, with COMC second. But those are certainly not my favorite way. As LCSs have disappeared I've come to enjoy going to shows and shuffling through dealers' boxes. It can get tiresome to stand and lean over tables but I like seeing exactly what I am getting and negotiating a price.
I use quite a few, Sportlots, eBay, COMC, JustCommons, trading, buying at the LCS, buying retail. My favorite would be strolling the aisles of a card show but I haven't been to one since the National in Anaheim several years back.
My favorite used to be the local Wal-Mart. But that card selection has dried up. So I guess I will go with COMC. I can usually find what I want for I price I like.
Trading with all of you out there is by far my favorite. Close second by a nose is card shows.
I did the math, and I bought 669 cards on COMC this year. That being said, trading is infinitely more fun.
eBay because I mostly buy singles and you can find pretty much anything and everything. Trading is the most fun though, of course.
Favorite method: Trades! Nobody in their right mind REALLY wants Padre cards, so send them to ME!But I do buy a most of my player collection parallels off of eBay. Those can be tough to find. Just Commons is also a great place to pick off those last few cards for a team set or to start a player collection.
I tend to like card shows best -- human interaction, physically going through cards and seeing all the cards in person, and getting to talk to fellow collectors in direct conversation.
COMC rarely disappoints. I'd love to have card shows (failing that, flea markets with a decent cardboard presence would be cool too) to go to again. I'm getting into trading again recently and quite enjoying that as well. eBay is handy for scratching my more expensive (sketch cards, misc. non-sport autos, etc) itches. The only dedicated LCS around here didn't last long, but I enjoyed it well enough the handful of times I stopped in. Basically every way has it's merits and flaws, but they're all different experiences. Hard to compare and then come to a definitive conclusion about what I like best.
It depends on what I'm looking for :trades for awesome randomness and curiosity of what others are sending. justcommons to get some Blue Jays for my collection, but I don't spend more than .30 ct on a card there. I have to pay a $13 S&H fee for about 200 cards, but that's ok.Comc for cards between .50ct and $5.Ebay for vintage and higher end cards (my high end doesn't go above $8 for modern cards)But trading is really where the fun is
I would say trading. Everyone gets something they want.
i'm at the point with my collection now that sportlots and/or ebay are the best ways for me to find the specific cards that i need. i would prefer it to be card shows, but i don't find too many steve garvey parallels or oddballs at the local shows. trade packages are the best way for me to receive random dodgers that i didn't previously have, however.
I used Listia a lot the last half of the year. I scored some good deals, and hope to do the same this year. I still like to use sites like COMC and Just Commons as well to finish out sets and find good deals. The problem is I can't find packs that way, so I still have to buy packs at the stores, that is if I decide to buy packs this year, I might just go for team sets through the sites I mentioned.
usually local card shows or burbank sports cards(easy to find cards and free shipping on orders plus $50.)
Opening a pack and pulling what I wanted.
In a perfect world, I'd get everything through trades. eBay is probably best for selection/ finding just what I want. Best deals are probably at card shows.
Contest closed. Thanks everyone!