Saturday, February 23rd is National Hockey Card Day.
Which means that February 23rd will be one of the best days of 2019!
Not only can you get free hockey cards on February 23rd but the day lends itself nicely to spending time with your kids (if you have) and possibly other collectors.
I haven’t been a collector for very long. So my very first national card collecting day was technically National Baseball Card Day in August 2018 since I was not officially collecting last NHCD.
Lessons from my first National Baseball Card Day
I had the day planned out with my kids – or at least I thought I had – but it very quickly became clear to me that I had forgotten a few key details.
If you’re new to National Hockey Card Day and want to take advantage of getting free hockey cards, I have some tips for you. Lessons I learned from my first National Card Day.
1. Preplan Your Route
If you live in Winnipeg, you’re in luck. I’ve mapped out all the sports card stores in Winnipeg so you can have a quick visual of how you might plan your trip.
I’ll also email you a list of the stores that will be handing out free hockey card packs. Simply subscribe to the Manitoba Sports Cards email newsletter.
This list will probably come a week or two before February 23rd. It all depends on when Upper Deck releases their list of participating stores to the public. Some Winnipeg stores are already advertising that they’re participating in this event.
If you’re not from Manitoba, I’ll add the LINK here when Upper Deck releases the list of stores that will be handing out free hockey card packs.
- Subscribe to the Manitoba Sports Card newsletter (it only comes out once a week; I promise to never flood your inbox);
- Add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts list so your emails don’t end up in spam/junk;
- Open your emails each Friday morning!
- Next, plan your route.
On National Baseball Card Day, my kids and I planned out a circular route that took us from
→ Cancentral near Polo Park →
→ to Superstars on Portage Avenue →
→ to AJs in the Outlet Mall →
→ to AJs in St. Vital Centre →
→ to Sports Card Connection on St. Anne’s Road →
→ and finally, to Joe Daley’s on St. Mary’s.
Tip from a reader: know what times each store is open. I’ll be adding this vital information to my newsletter along with the participating Winnipeg stores.
2. Plan A Coffee Break
National Baseball Card Day ended up being on a super hot day in 2018.
Before we even left, I knew which 7-11 we would be stopping at for slurpees. Let’s just say it was a very good idea we stopped for a cool down, despite having air conditioning in our van.
Who knows how cold National Hockey Card Day will be? The weather this winter has been nasty!
I strongly recommend planning a stop at Tim Hortons’ or McDonald’s along your route so you can warm up with some hot chocolate or coffee.
Tip from a reader: If you’ll be participating with younger kids, plan around nap time. Good luck with that! With 5 kids, I know what that’s like!
3. Prepare yourself for some BiG hITs!
Bring a box, some plastic sleeves, and some hard plastic top loaders. Not just for any big hits, but ALL of your cards!
This was our biggest rookie mistake.
We did not plan for opening up multiple packs of cards on National Baseball Card Day and we regretted it.
We each had our pile of cards tucked into various “safe” (ie. not safe) places in our van and there were a few moments where we couldn’t find certain cards. Not a good feeling!
One of my boys also got a few good hits. If we happened to open our packs in the store, more often than not, the kind folks behind the counter graciously handed out plastic sleeves and a few even gave us top loaders.
You can prepare yourself by purchasing these items at the first store you go to if you don’t have them. They won’t cost you much money and it’s a worthwhile investment to keep autograph cards and other valuable cards safe.
If you have a small card collecting box or tin at home, I highly recommend you take it with you. I personally think that these Upper Deck tins make a convenient storage for cards, especially if you’re in the vehicle.
Some people prefer binders with the plastic 9-card pages. Do whatever works for you.
4. Know the “rules” in advance
For National Hockey Card Day, you can collect a 15 card set for free. Keep in mind that each pack has 5 cards in it. So you’ll have to open up several packs in order to complete the set.
But wait! There are actually 16 cards in a set! How do you get that 16th card?
Upper Deck instructs stores to give out the packs for free BUT that 16th card comes ONLY with a purchase of $10 or more.
Just a warning: not all stores abide by Upper Deck’s rules and unfortunately there’s nothing I can do about it.
If you notice that a store isn’t fulfilling the terms set by Upper Deck, feel free to notify Upper Deck. Think of yourself as a Mystery Shopper and not a tattle-tale. 😉
Anyway, you’ll want to bring your wallet with you. You may need it to buy:
- Plastic sleeves,
- Top loaders,
- A small empty box or tin,
- Or a binder and empty pages if you prefer;
- A $10 purchase to get the 16th card to complete the set,
- Coffee, hot chocolate, or slurpee break.
5. Complete the set by trading
Some stores will allow you to trade NHCD/NBCD singles one-for-one so you can complete the set without running all over Winnipeg. They may be trading cards the day of National Hockey Card Day or in the weeks that follow.
Each store will have their own timetable for trading so ask you closest/favourite local card shop when or if they’re trading. Don’t be afraid to ask your store if they will help you complete the set.
Another option – and one that I am not personally familiar with – is to join the Winnipeg Hockey Card group on Facebook. This tip comes from one of my newsletter subscribers. He found this group to be extremely useful in helping him finish up his National Baseball Card Day set.
And there you have it! A list of things to do, to not do, to avoid, and things to plan for.
Hopefully you have a wonderful, warm National Hockey Card Day!