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Saving vs. waiting

Hello, it's contrarian night owl here, telling another tale about how obsessed we are with saving our cash.
I can tell you're shocked already.
Saving is a good thing, right? It's the American way. Getting the cheapest possible deal on whatever you're interested in purchasing gets you a little gold star or check mark somewhere, correct?

Actually, I don't think that's the way it works. Which is why I haven't been much for trying to find the cheapest way to buy cards. I've addressed this before. I see the point if you're on a strict budget or your job status is shaky or you're paying tuition for three kids in college. But saving for saving's sake I just don't get.

Sure, I get excited when I find a deal on ebay. And I pat myself on the back when I discover a shirt I bought that I like was on clearance. But it's never the point of the sale for me. The point is: did I get what I want?

Recently, I think I found another point, when it comes to purchasing cards, that I value more than savings. It has to do with waiting.

I decided to try the box feature with sportlots. As a relative sportlots newbie (I started making purchases some time in 2018), all of my card purchases from the site arrived directly from the seller.
That worked for me. I'd usually wait a couple weeks, sometimes less, and a bunch of PWEs from all different areas of the country would start floating into my mailbox. I did notice that I was paying a fair amount for shipping with that method but I was willing to overlook it.
Then Nachos Grande made a blog post about his experience with sportlots and how he was paying way too much for shipping. It really bothered him. And because of that, I thought, well, maybe it should bother me.

He tried the sportlots box feature and he was a lot happier with that, it saved him quite a bit on shipping. Just about everyone in the comments agreed that was the smarter way to go, too. Well, except for me, I didn't really get it. There's that contrarian streak.

But I figured, OK, I should at least try it. Everyone seems to think it's the more sensible way.

So, the second week of December I placed a sportlots order using the box feature for the first time. For those who don't know, the box feature allows you to order from multiple dealers still, but instead of them shipping the cards directly to you, they ship them to your box. When all of your orders have arrived in the box, you pay the reduced shipping charge and they send the cards to you.

That's what I did. My shipping ended up being cut in half. So yay! Savings!

And I also waited.

And waited.

And waited.
I waited for each dealer's order to make its way to the box, bit by achingly slow bit.

The normal two weeks or so I used to wait for sportslots envelopes to show up came and went. Then another two weeks came and went.

It took so long that I ended up canceling the last card that hadn't reached the box because the card wasn't worth waiting for any longer.

The box arrived at my house on Saturday. Thirty-four days after I placed the order.

Now, that actually isn't a long time when you think about it. This is someone who used to wait 6-to-8 weeks to get some junky thing off a cereal box back in the '70s.

But I didn't like it.

I know this might be an extreme example because of the time I placed the order. It was Christmas time. And post offices were backed up like never before. Mail was delayed everywhere (I'm still waiting for an envelope from Pennsylvania to show up). Sportlots box orders probably don't usually take a month to appear I'm guessing.

But the point I'm making here is sometimes when you save, you pay.

I often pay extra not because I like paying extra money but because I want the job done right.
There is a plumbing and heating business in town that gets all my business. Sometimes when people I know hear that we went to this particular place to get something fixed, they'll say the same thing, "Oh, they're so expensive."

Yeah, OK. Well, I've tried other places that were actually cheaper. One time I couldn't get an appointment with the normal place because it was a busy time. I went with someone else. Someone cheaper. It was a disaster. I thought he was going to kill every pipe in the house. You're paying for more than the product. You're paying for service, too.

People, I find, get addicted to deals. And sometimes that's good. It's not a bad thing to want to save money. Most of the time it's a good thing. You've seen me display my goodies from the online dime box store, right? I do like cheap cards.
But sometimes, I don't know. I just don't get it. Sometimes you miss out on stuff because you're looking for a couple of dollars off. Is that smart? It's not like you have to fill out a report to someone if you got a card for $6.25 but you could have gotten it for $3.95. At least I hope there isn't.

Anyway, I'll try the box order again some time, when it's less hectic. Because I think that kind of wait wasn't normal. If it is normal, I'll just pay my extra 5 bucks or whatever it is and get all those individual envelopes floating into my mail box again.

 All of the above cards came from that box order (plus a few others that are for other posts or trades).

The two 1975 Topps buybacks are the first ones I've bought since last February! I'm hearing COMC is starting to get back to normal, maybe I'll finally order shipment of a few more soon.

As with collecting, people can approach spending any way they like. If they're not going over their budget than it's entirely their business. Even if they are going over their budget, it's their business if no one is dependent on them.

I never feel guilty if I'm not saving at every opportunity because I know the funds are there. But then there are those moments where someone says something and, I don't know, I feel like I'm doing something wrong. I'd just prefer not to be lectured by the grocery store clerk when I didn't buy the sale item (and, yup, that's happened). I probably shouldn't let it bother me. I get too flustered by what people say sometimes. It's not any of their business.

We always have our reasons for why we do what we do.

And sometimes that reason is: do I want to save or do I want to wait?


RIP, Don Sutton.
I am at a loss.


Nick Vossbrink said…
I've never used the box either. My use of Sportlots is to either keep things PWE price or to find a seller with enough inventory I want that it makes sense to build a stack.
Commishbob said…
My #1 Don Sutton memory is from his win over Jim Palmer on the last day of the '82 season when he won the pennant for the Brewers. Earl Weaver's 'farewell' game. The only reason I wasn't in tears is because we were watching at a family party. But that one hurt. RIP

re: SportsLots.....Once I figured out their clunky website I started buying more and more stuff there. My last order included about twenty some odd different sellers and one or two took their sweet time getting my purchases to my box but it still was better than waiting on COMC.

The REALLY fun part is opening the box and THEN opening 25 different envelopes. Great way to kill an entire evening!

Jimetal7212 said…
Pre-pandemic orders from sellers would normally take ~2 weeks to hit the box. As you stated, with the PO being extremely backed up it is taking much longer for items to get there. I recently had one take 5 weeks. My use of the box is a little different though in that I'll usually wait until I have multiple different orders in there before I ship to my place. I've held things for up to 4 months. Guess it all depends on your absolute desire to have them in hand. I try to focus on the sellers that have want I'm looking for a low (free!!) shipping and the higher the loot bonus, well....
Trevor P said…
My father-in-law has worked construction all his life and he always says people want fast, cheap, and high quality, but you can never have more than two of those. So decide which two you want. I think I tend to go with cheap and quality, so I have grown accustomed to waiting.
Nachos Grande said…
I agree with much of what you wrote here! Also, one small correction - I still haven't used the box option on Sportlots, instead I tried harder to combine my purchases to a smaller number of individual sellers (rather than always going for the cheapest option for each card that I wanted). Kind of a happy medium between getting something in a decent amount of time but not totally throwing money to the wind. Also, for the life of me I can't help buy type "sportslot" instead of "sportlots" each time I use the word.
night owl said…
Hmmm. I wonder where I got the box idea then if I didn't get it from you? I know I didn't think of it myself, someone spurred me on to try it.
Chris said…
Sportlots is the one online card retailer I haven't tried yet, and I'm not about to start now when shipping is still a mess. I'm glad you were able to acquire some more '75 buybacks though.

Of all the baseball HOFers who passed away over the past year are so the only two that I saw either on TV or baseball cards were Phil Niekro and Don Sutton. They're not the first HOFers who have passed away from my baseball-loving lifetime (Puckett and Gwynn come to mind) but this Chuck D track that I first heard hours before the news about Sutto is hitting even harder now.
Billy Kingsley said…
I stopped ordering from Sportlots because it was all pwes. I care more about getting the cards I want than saving a dollar in shipping.
I hadn't heard about Don Sutton, RIP. I've not tried the box thing at sportlots. My understanding was you pay shipping twice. I'll have to revisit the terms. I just popped another order from 15 Sellers. 90% of my purchases from there come in bubble mailers. The seldom PWE is when I order 1-4 cards from a particular seller (with super cheap shipping).
I've never used Sportlots fact before a couple of weeks ago I had never ordered any cards online before.
Old Cards said…
Great point about going overboard on saving. I am guilty. I hate paying $4 shipping on a single card purchase while other sellers only charge $1 or even 55 cents. I lose out on auctions over small amounts. But, to your point, if I want the card, I should pay it. Even my wife shames me and tells me to buy the card if I want it. Hadn't heard COMC is getting back to normal. That's good news. Also, didn't know about Don Sutton yet. Sorry to hear of his passing.
Brett Alan said…
Oh, man, hadn't seen the news about Sutton until I read this. That's a shame. I don't know what to make of this run of Hall Of Famers, especially pitchers, passing on, but it's very sad. Sutton, BTW, sometimes turns up on reruns of the 70s Match Game as a panelist, which is fun.

As for the savings, I hate to promote stereotyped, but aside from my big nose and my love for Chinese food, the thirst to save money is the main thing I get from being a Jew. For me that's a lot of the fun of the hobby is tracking down something for a low price. But that's me, everyone has different priorities and goals.
Brett Alan said…
Wanted to add...Chuck D just released a song and video a couple days ago paying tribute to all the players we've lost over the last year. He's definitely coming at it from our perspective; the title is "It's So Hard To See My Baseball Cards Move On." Very well done.
Nick said…
I'll have to give the Sportlots Box a try one of these days. I love getting deals, of course, but I'm used to be way more militant about finding the best price for a card I want, bar none. Not so much anymore. If a card I've bought pops up for a few bucks cheaper somewhere else, so be it, but I'm not gonna lose sleep over it.
Fuji said…
I like a good bargain... but I believe I found some "clean" 1978 Kellogg's for my set build, so I opened my wallet, went all in, and paid top dollar to complete my set. Can't wait to see them when they arrive. Hope they really are as clean as I think they are.
cardboardhogs said…
very sorry about the loss of one of your definitely sucks to hear those stories.

much lighter note. i have also used sportlots and tried the box deal...hated it. i had completely forgotten what cards i ordered and actually double bought them prior to arriving at my house.
Derek said…
I went crazy with the sportlots box and now slightly regretting it. They now have a flat rate taxes+duties for Canadians. Great! A few stipulations such as maximum box weight and value. No problem.

There were so many cards that I needed that I ended up ordering over 400 cards. No way that I was going over the value or weight limit.

Then I realized how they calculate the weight and I realized that I was going to get screwed because after 4lbs it'd have to be sent international priority parcel which had no deal on taxes and duty. I'm in Ontario, so taxes alone would be 13% of the value.

To be honest, never really considered the weight of a single card. Looks like about 9-10 regular cards per ounce. Or if you buy a single card from a dealer, that's rounded up to an ounce. Those rounded up ounces quickly have added up. I got in touch with support and to their credit helped me out getting my first shipment under 4lbs. but I still have over 200 cards yet to arrive in the box. I'm wondering if I would have been better off with skipping the box or taking my chances with the duties and taxes.

I know it's my fault for not fully understanding all the finer points before I went crazy with the ordering but it's definitely tarnished my experience with the box.
RunForeKelloggs said…
I haven't bought single cards often. That could change if ebay sellers use the new, cheap shipping that is supposed to start soon. I was close to buying from COMC but then I read about their issues. I will wait until I hear they are back to business as usual. I want to see pictures of Kellogg's cards due to cracks, so Sportlots is out for me at this point.
gogosox60 said…
Love that all those Don Sutton cards were all takin during spring training. And spring training cards always reminds me of a new season is still ahead in the future and right now we are still all forever young!!
Speaking of waiting ...

Rogers Hornsby once said, "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."

For me, the longest wait is from last out of the World Series to the first day of spring training. A couple of teams have released their 2021 reporting dates, and the Orioles are the earliest. Their pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 16.

That's less than four weeks. We're getting there.
BP said…
I like Sportlots box. I've saved hundreds of dollars filling sets that I wasn't able to complete on TCDB compared to what it costs to complete them on COMC or especially ebay. My shipping savings have been substantial too. I don't mind waiting. I didn't have these cards before, so why should it matter if I don't get them for a month or two. I don't go to the LCS or a card show every day, so again, I am patient. I can wait. The worst thing to be as a collector is impatient or impulsive. You end up with a clutter-filled, incoherent collection that you've spent too much money on. Patience and discipline!
Used Cardboard said…
Pretty much everything you said here fits my buying habits- I will absolutely pay more to get what I want when I see it, or when I need it, and couldn’t care less about finding the best deal. Convenience is key, which is kind of why when I decided it was time to clear out cards that didn’t fit my collection, I started selling on Sportlots. On the seller side of things, I think I could make more selling on eBay, but then I’d spend a ton of time scanning and writing listings, and the thought of paying COMC rent to hold my cards kills me. I’ve only purchased a few times, but I’m currently experimenting with the box option myself for the first time. Hopefully it goes a bit quicker for me when I ask for my shipment. On the seller side of things, I ship out box orders on the same day each week, hopefully capping the lag time at 10 or so days max from purchase.
hiflew said…
I have to say that I absolutely LOVE the box option on Sportlots both as a buyer and as a seller. I have ordered approximately one box shipment per month since the program began in 2018. The savings are great, but getting all the cards at once is a big bonus as well.

As a seller, it used to really bug me to sell one 18 cent card with 99 cents shipping. The 5-10 cents after fees and shipping I made per order really made me want to not even bother with doing it. But when you can combine several small orders into one envelope, it at least makes it feel like the effort is worth it. And if you are looking into selling on Sportlots, small orders are likely to be 95% of your sales. I seldom get orders of more than 4-5 cards at a time.

As a buyer, I like because I can knock out entire team sets regardless of whether one particular seller has everything I need. I also like being able to take a particular year want list and just go through and add everything to the cart from a whole year. Then I go through the cart and make eliminations based on shipping costs. It works for me anyway.
Derek said…
Just wanted to provide an update because I believe in giving credit where credit is due.

My second sportlots box is now on its way, with a $10 sportlots credit in hand because the shipping cost ended up being less than estimated. I think I had read somewhere that they do this, but had forgotten.

I took a step back after my previous comment and put things in perspective. I certainly am paying a lot more in shipping than I had expected but I've saved a ton because I bought a ton of 0.18 cards that probably would have cost me over a buck at COMC or I would have paid a ton in shipping to Canada on eBay. Overall I think I've gotten good value from the box, even though things haven't gone as I've expected. I spent literally 3 weeks going through my player wantlists and I guess my frustration got the better of me.

I miscounted... I've got almost 600 cards coming my way. I'll be a happy customer once they all arrive.