What Is a Hobby Box, What Is a Retail Box, & What Are the Key Differences?

what is a hobby boxAmericans have started collecting sports cards like never before. But as more than a few people have pointed out, sports card collecting doesn’t look like it used to. Hobby boxes have become more popular in recent years, and they’ve sent both amateur and avid collectors scurrying to buy them all up in the hopes of landing their most coveted chase cards. But at the same time, they’ve also left some people scratching their heads and asking, “What is a hobby box?”

Many people have wondered what the difference between a retail vs. a hobby box is, as well. If you’re interested in getting more involved in sports card collecting, it’ll be important for you to know what a hobby box is, what a retail box is, and what exactly differentiates them.

Keep reading to see what sets these two types of sports card boxes apart.

What Is a Hobby Box?

If you spend any time shopping for sports cards these days, you’ll inevitably encounter your fair share of hobby boxes. Those who enjoy collecting baseball cards might like a Topps jumbo baseball hobby box, while those who collect football cards might like a Panini football hobby box. But simply looking at one of these boxes won’t always answer the questions, “What is a hobby box?” and “What is a retail box?”

Hobby boxes are higher-end boxes of sports cards that will often include more chase cards in them than retail boxes. Hobby boxes also tend to have higher price tags on them since they will give you a better chance to pull sports cards that could be more valuable than those found in retail boxes. It really helps to differentiate between a retail vs. a hobby box.

What Comes In a Hobby Box?

There is no guarantee as to what you’ll find when you tear open a hobby box and start ripping the packs inside of it. A big part of the fun of buying hobby boxes is knowing there could be one or two high-value cards inside.

Here are some examples of the types of “hits” that you might find in a hobby box:

  • Autographed cards
  • Rookie cards
  • Short print (SP) or super short print (SSP) cards
  • Serial numbered cards
  • Parallel cards
  • Relic cards
  • Special insert cards

Some sports card makers have even started to put cards that include small pieces of game-used sports jerseys and other memorabilia in packs. It’s why so many people have started scrambling to snatch up hobby boxes after learning the answer to the question, “What is a hobby box?”

2023 Topps Baseball Hobby Box

What Is a Retail Box?

Now that you know what a hobby box is, let’s get into discussing what a retail box is. It’ll paint an even clearer picture of what separates a retail vs. a hobby box.

A retail box is the type of sports card box you will find at most big-box stores. Unlike hobby boxes that are designed to come with more chase cards in them, the chase cards in retail boxes will be few and far between. In fact, you might rip more than a few packs from a retail box open without landing a single chase card.

What Comes in a Retail Box?

Even if you know what a hobby box is and understand the sports card collecting industry inside and out, you’ll still need a little luck when opening hobby boxes. But you’ll need even more luck when you rip open packs from retail boxes.

Since retail boxes don’t guarantee any big hits like autographs or memorabilia cards, they can be more unpredictable than hobby boxes. You might get lucky and land a rare card that will make those who buy hobby boxes drool—or you might strike out and fail to land any worthwhile rookies or parallels in an entire retail box.

The Key Differences Between a Retail vs. a Hobby Box

There are so many differences between a retail box and a hobby box. Hobby boxes will cost you a little more money, but they’ll also put you in a much better position to pull valuable cards that you wouldn’t normally find in retail boxes. You’re also going to have to shop for hobby boxes from a specialty sports card store because hobby boxes are more limited and only available through certain dealers and distributors.

You can count on Giant Sports Cards to provide you with some of the best sealed hobby boxes in the business. We sell all the newest sports card releases at competitive prices and offer speedy shipping, as well as free shipping on orders over $199. We’ll also set you up with GOAT-level customer service and can even extend free local pickup at checkout for local orders! Swing by the Ultimate Collector’s Cave™, our sports card shop in the Atlanta, GA area to see for yourself!