Buying cards is generally considered a pleasant experience. But because this is the real world, there are always some hassles that go along with even the happiest of purchases.
If you're buying cards online, you may choose from multiple outlets, but sometimes you can't see the cards you buy, sometimes you have to constantly comparison shop so you don't get ripped off, sometimes someone snags the card out from under you, sometimes cards arrive damaged or not at all.
If you're buying cards in a store, you must deal with crowds and lines. Sometimes you're dodging shopping carts parked in the card aisle for the specific purpose of deterring you. Sometimes there's this weird 20-something guy there in an army jacket, who -- what is he doing, is he sniffing the cards? -- and you have to pretend to be interested in something else in the store until he goes away.
The worst experiences of the best shopping experience that exists are without a doubt in Walmart. I've written about this so many times I'm not even bothering to link to the past posts. It's a fact. You're taking your mood in your hands if you go willingly to Walmart.
Unfortunately, the first food-issue set that Topps has created in decades can be found only in Walmart. And in the grocery area of the store, too. Where the aisles are always too narrow and the people are always -- well, how do I say this nicely? -- robust.
What was I going to do?
I had a couple of options: I could wait until I was in a really good mood, with a couple days off maybe, when nothing in the store could hurt me. I could send my wife in for me, but why would I want to do that to her? Or, I could do that thing that I've done many times because it is a built-in perk of being a night owl.
I could wait until after work and shop at 1:30 in the morning.
Flip on the headlights, we're going to get some store-brand pizza!!
So, just to get you up to speed, even though I've mentioned it here and a number of other blogs have shown the cards, Topps and Walmart's Marketside Pizza (which I had never heard of until this promotion) have teamed up to create a 50-card oddball set. Three cards apiece can be found in Marketside pizza or breadstick boxes.
I peeled out of the work parking lot and hit the road.
If I had to pick a time period to shop for the rest of my life, it would be at 1:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning. When I was there, Walmart featured a handful of workers and maybe 5 shoppers. I'm certain that people who shop at Walmart only during the day believe it is as if cattle are being herded through the store all day every day. But there is actually down time. And last night, it was wonderfully deserted.
The grocery entrance is on the left side of the complex. I entered the double automatic doors and walked past the carts. As you walk in, there is a large refrigerated display on your left, which features various food items during the year.
And today's food item, on a very early Thursday morning on the last day of March in 2016, was: Marketside pizza and breadsticks.
I barely had to move a leg muscle or a searching eyeball.
There were lots of boxes. Most of the boxes featured the Topps logo you saw at the top of the post. Some of them didn't. I looked down at the pizzas. Holy hell are they large. I didn't know if I'd be able to fit that into my freezer.
Then I saw the breadsticks. They were much smaller, although still disturbingly large for breadsticks. Doesn't anything in Walmart come in "small"?
They were cheaper, too.
So I bought one:
And, two ...
It was such a good deal.
One box was $2.98 and the other $3.98. As you can tell, Topps is proclaiming it a $7.50 value. There are two coupons with each box that total $3.50. And there's a Topps Bunt card with a free code, I don't know the value of that, if any. So I guess the cards, discounting the Bunt code, are valued at a buck thirty apiece?
Each set of three cards is enclosed in a foil wrapper. The wrapper is kind of loose in the box, and as others have mentioned, the box is not sealed. You could simply open the top of the box there in the store -- if you were one of those weird Walmart people -- reach in, and the foil pack is found underneath the food product.
Considering how close this display was to the doors, I began to envision future filched Marketside pizza cards. But the checkout area, where the managers roam, is within view of the display. Not the greatest deterrent, but I'm not in loss prevention.
All right, you've waited long enough for the cards.
#25 - Alex Gordon
The cards look nice, even better in person. They're sturdy, not flimsy stock you might suspect with a food issue. The design would be pretty spare if not for the electric grid background, which I like a lot. Also, the silver bordered nameplate is very early 1990s Leaf.
Nobody ever shows the back, so here it is:
Very cool back. I love the grid look, it gives off a retro computer/speaker vibe that actually changes colors depending on the team featured.
#18 - Francisco Lindor
Looking over the checklist, there are many, "young and up-and-coming" players featured. I'd say at least one-third fall into that category.
#32 - Hector Olivera
The rookie card logo has migrated onto an oddball set because we're not in 1982 anymore (this is a sad statement not a sarcastic one). This could have been a Dodger card as Olivera was traded in the Alex Wood deal last July.
There's your propaganda in each pack. No coupon is going to make me buy 2016 flagship, and Bunt is still for somebody who doesn't call them "fake cards."
That was kind of a dud of a pack, which is why I got two kinds of breadsticks.
#49 - Mr. Met
This pack is better already. There are two mascot cards in the set, Phillie Phanatic being the other one.
#43 - Dee Gordon
Oof. Another former Dodger. Marketside is now officially trolling me.
#45 - Clayton Kershaw
Yay, breadsticks! You got me the card I wanted the most out of the entire set!
There are just two Dodgers in the set, Corey Seager being the other one. I have no plans to collect the whole set, these aren't Kellogg's 3-D cards, you know. But I definitely want the Dodgers.
This is also about the only card I could have pulled that would have salvaged a daytime trip to Walmart.
I forgot to mention that after selecting my breadstick choices, I walked the few feet to the checkout area, paid through the self-checkout, and I was on my way less than 10 minutes after I stepped into the store. How many people who have stepped into Walmart -- other than those who set one foot in, looked around, and ran out screaming -- can say that?
I can't believe I'm writing this, but Walmart, I think this was the easiest pack purchase ever.
Breadsticks for everyone!