We were recently asked about the "you pick" lots you see on eBay and similar venues by someone who had never heard of them before. At times, they go by various names and slang such as "U choose" or "you pick 'em" among others. While we are not certain when they first began online, by the mid-2000s these pick lots had become very popular and still are today. For newer collectors or collectors that have been away from the hobby for a long time, there can be confusion and misunderstanding with these lots. This post should quickly alleviate any confusion for you and actually give you a great way to get a lot more out of your collection with significantly less effort.
It's the most efficient way to complete sets of all different kinds in today's market. We have seen it with all kinds of trading card sets from baseball cards to obscure non-sport sets. The primary purpose of these lots is to help collectors finish sets as easily as possible and typically as cost effective as possible. This is especially true if you have no local card shows or retailers that carry singles for set builders. Pick lots came about to take advantage of the ease of the internet. The way to find them if you have never heard of them yet is to get onto an online venue that facilitates them. It's most often eBay or other smaller venues that are similar where sellers can control the listings they make. The search is easy... enter the set and the words "you pick" or "you choose" with them. You could use "2010 Topps you pick" if you are working on a 2010 Topps set. A random search using only "you pick" gives us results like you see below. As you can see, anything from vintage sets to specific subsets and parallels of recent releases can be found in the "you pick" format. You can mix and match for hundreds of sets on eBay now.
Each pick lot has a few elements to be aware of which are what set or subset is featured, how many cards are included and any special conditions different sellers may have. That will be clear in the description for you. We can take the last example above and note that you would receive 10 near mint out of the pack cards from 1975 Topps. Where pick lots illustrate their efficiency is that the buyer will literally pick exactly which 10 cards they are buying. Each seller's listing will have a different list of the available cards and the buyer will get to select from that list. Then for a flat price regardless of card, the buyer receives the ten they picked. In this example it's $1.20 per card regardless of which card.
Often, when down to the last few cards, it makes a lot of sense to simply search for the cards you need and buy them until you have finished your set. However, if you need 25 cards, paying for each card through many different sellers can waste a lot of time and money if a buyer is not careful. Pick lots can get you the final 10, 20 or more cards in one single purchase... saving you the time and often the money. You can also use them in different ways, such as to get all the cards of a certain team, or to acquire all the cards of a certain player or character.
In most pick lots, the singles are usually less expensive because the seller does not have to spend as much time listing an example of 143 commons they have. They can make a single listing at a fixed price and let a collector get what they need quickly. It's frequently a win for both the buyer and seller in pick lots. In many cases sellers can make custom lots as well if you contact them... what if you need 17 cards, but lots are only in 10 or 20... you can ask for a custom lot of 17 to make things much easier for you. It can be a great way to fill some moderately challenging and large sets quickly. Many sellers will also cut the price per card as you make the lots larger to save even more.
If you like to sell sportscards, some pick lots can also be great money makers. Many insert and special card sets are done in pick lot formats in today's collectibles market. If you know singles from a set sell for $3 each frequently and you find a 10 card pick lot for $5 you can see the quick math. 10 cards sold at the $3 going rate brings you $30 for every $5 you spend through the pick lots. We have seen this work well with prospect and rookie laden sets over the years as well. Grab the likely hot rookie for a quarter each in pick lots and sell them as groups for solid gains. Others know you can find rare cards and stars buried in these lots, too. It varies by sets and you should do your homework to take advantage of pick lots in this way. We know many collectors who do this every week to fund purchases of more cards for themselves.
We hope this post gives you a good general idea of what pick lots are for trading cards and how they can help you improve your collection. If you ever need help with your sportscards collection, feel free to contact us. We would also welcome some comments below if you have any other questions or thoughts on this post. For more general information, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, instagram, or pinterest!