Do You Have Any Dime Box Strategies?

Back in December I went to a card show, but because I live in a “hobby desert”, I had to drive several hours each way and make it an all-day event. Because I drive several hours, I try to maximize my time at the show as much as I can.

This show I went to had something I hadn’t seen in a couple of years… A couple of dealers with NICKEL BOXES! Woohoo! I had a lot of fun going through those, as well as a number of dime boxes at other dealers.

2015 Topps Archives Mookie Wilson
On the drive home from the show, I reflected on the hours I spent and realized that while I had a great time, I made very little progress on the goals I’d set for myself going in. There were multiple reasons for this… Partly that I just didn’t find what I was looking for in the first place… but I was left wondering if I spent too much time drooling over the dime and nickel boxes.

So that got me wondering if there was a better way I could’ve handled the dime and nickel boxes. For example, I spent a lot of time in the nickel/dime boxes trying to fill in wants in recent Bowman, Heritage and Archives sets, and now I wonder if I might’ve been better time mangement to just grab something like 100-200 cards for each current set I was interested in, and then after the fact see what I need. It’s still more cost-effective than buying a blaster.

2015 Diamond Kings Kennys Vargas

Or maybe, for the nickel boxes, I would’ve been better off from a time-management standpoint to just pick a dollar amount ($5, $10, $20) and semi-judiciously pick out a stack of cards to fill out that dollar amount, and then move on.

I know another option is to ask the dealer how much he wants for the whole box, but there weren’t any boxes that appealed to me that much.

2014 Bowman JJ Hardy

But anyway, this got me wondering if any of you had any particular strategies you use when you come across cheap cardboard. Do you limit your time or money spent? Do you not worry too much about the “got ’em, need ’em, got ’em” and figure that any duplicates you inadvertently get can be trade bait or just written off as “the cost of doing business”? I’m sure many of you have other strategies I’m not even thinking of.

Do you have any particular strategies when you don’t have time to go through an entire dime box?


10 thoughts on “Do You Have Any Dime Box Strategies?

  1. How long I spend depends on what I see at a quick shuffle through and how much time I have. If it looks worth it I dig right in. But I rarely check actual lists and just grab what I think I need. Occasionally I’ll have a list out but if I spend a few extra dimes it’s fine for the time I save. Or I sort what I pull by list and that makes list checking at the end easier.

  2. With dime or nickel boxes I won’t rely on checking lists, eats up way too much time. I tend to scan through everything extremely fast and just grab whatever sticks out to me in a very quick pass. The few cards I end up with that I already had make good trade bait anyway. Sort of a “stream-of-consciousness” dime box approach I guess?

  3. Because I’m usually looking specifically for Brewers, I usually keep my phone around and reference my lists for what I need and what I don’t. I do this because not doing it led me to buy about 5 copies of Carlos Gomez’s Bowman Platinum card from a couple of years ago. As much as it was only a dime for each, it means that I now have three copies that I don’t need and really can’t trade away easily.

    The other part of my strategy with the dime/nickel box is to look for oddballs that I can trade away. That’s mainly because a lot of folks don’t have oddballs in their collections and, if they do, there’s still a decent shot that they need what I found anyway.

  4. The dollar amount strategy is a good one if you’re short on time. I did that at a show I hit a couple weeks ago with a dealer who had at least a couple dozen quarter boxes on display because I could’ve easily spent an hour-plus at his table. Also, the reminder that “you can always go back” is a good one to tell yourself. You can set a dollar amount, pay for your finds, do a lap around the show, and then head back to that vendor if you have some money/time left over. Seems obvious, but I always have to remind myself that it’s not like the vendors are going anywhere.

    If I come across a nickel/dime card that I think I might already have, I usually buy it anyways because even if I do have it, it’s more than likely that I can find another home for it. I usually give the quarter, fifty-cent, etc. cards a little more thought.

    Also, and I don’t know if this applied to the nickel/dime box vendors you came across, but I’ve noticed some vendors tend to group together large chunks of cards from the same set. If I see a stack of, say, 2008 Topps in a dime box, I know I can bypass it all together because I probably already have/don’t need 99 percent of what’s in there, which saves time.

  5. I would prefer to have them sectioned by teams as I only care about A’s that can be potentially autographed; otherwise I’ll only go through boxes if it’s in an out of the way, weird and dusty hobby shop.

  6. I don’t exactly have a true strategy when I do that, but I won’t go higher than 50 cents on a card. If I’m filling something in my own little weird way, I prefer the dime box way because then I’m not stuck with the stuff I never wanted in the first doggone place. I know this probably ain’t news or any soft of real new way of doing it, but it’s my strategy, and it’s worked well for me for over 35 years. Usually I’m looking for Cardinals (baseball, not football), but if something unusual catches my eye, and is el cheapo, then I fork out a quarter or two.

  7. My main focus is basketball cards, which helps narrow the field quite a bit. For vintage (pre-80’s stuff) whatever they have in the $.25 and down boxes I’ll just buy whatever’s available, dupes be damned, which I guess is similar to the set-specific strategy you mentioned above.

  8. It depends on the situation. Sometimes I’ll stand at a guy’s dime boxes for an hour or two… until my legs get sore. Other times… I think to myself… Do I really need anymore of this stuff? That’s when I usually quickly pick out a few cards and walk away.

  9. Dime boxes are a rare occurrence at the card/collectible shows I attend. It’s usually quarter boxes and dollar boxes. My strategy is usually to start going through a box looking for cards I might need. If within the first few minutes I don’t come up with anything I’ll try another row in the box. If still nothing I move on. I figure it’s not worth my time going through the entire box(es) and the results may be nothing. When I do find cards that I may need I put them aside. When I am done going through the box(es) I’ll check the cards I have put aside against my want list. That way I’m checking all the cards at one time rather than as I find the cards which saves me time.

    Overall I will admit that I spend way too much time going through the quarter boxes. But I convince myself that the end result has been worth the time and effort.

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