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When Do You Give Up on Building a Set?

I consider myself to be a rather avid set collector who enjoys the challenge putting together a set.  Over the years, I've completed a number of rather tough sets but I'm not here to talk about those today.  Instead, I'm going to discuss the opposite thing that happens every once in awhile...that is, when to give up on collecting a set.

As I see it, there are a number of reasons to give up trying to collect a specific set.  Some valid reasons include:
  • Cards too expensive
  • Cards lost all value
  • Cards too rare 
  • Too many cards to track down
  • No longer care for the set
  • Not enough storage space for the set
I'm sure there are more reasons but those are some of the biggies that jumped to mind first.  For me, I don't find myself giving up on collecting sets that I've decided to go after very often.  I'm nothing if not stubborn, that's for sure.  That said, this past week I did decide to give up on trying to collect a set that's been languishing on my want list for many, many years.

The set in question?  2000 Fleer Focus.

Let's look at my list above to see how many of those bullet points apply here for reasons why I've decided to give up on trying to collect the set.

Cards too expensive:

The above screenshot shows the current prices on COMC for some of the short prints in the 2000 Fleer Focus set.  At this point in time, I have completed the full base set (cards 1 - 225) but I'm still in need of many short prints.  As you can see from the above image, not every card is expensive but there are a number of cards that seem to be way too pricy for what they are (seriously, over $9 for some guy named Mike Darr)?!?  

Cards lost all value:
We've now seen that the short prints (which are all serially numbered out of 3,999) are kind of expensive for what they are but what about the base set itself?  Well, according to eBay I could buy the entire base set (cards 1-225) for a mere $8* plus shipping.   *or best offer  Suffice to say that the 2000 Fleer Focus set is actually rather worthless without those short prints.  

Cards too rare:
While the short prints that I need aren't super rare (each is numbered out of 3,999 after all), the sheer number that I'm still missing means that trying to acquire all of the missing cards is definitely a lesson in patience.  Of course, I've been patient for over 20 years and I'm still missing a ton of them!

Too many cards to track down:
Yep, way too many.  In fact, this is the one that was the "straw that broke the camel's back" when it comes to deciding that I was going to give up on the set.  You see, for each of those 25 short prints...there are two different versions.  Somehow, I didn't know that back when I made my want list - so basically there are an addition 25 short prints that I didn't even know I needed...ugh.
You can be sure I'll be keeping this particular card!

No longer care for the set:
This doesn't exactly apply to me for this set as I do still like the crisp, clean design of 2000 Fleer Focus.  The little team hats, the white borders, it all works well for me.  Heck, even the card stock is nice.

Not enough storage room for the set:
This doesn't quite apply to me yet...but sooner or later (emphasis on the sooner part), I'm going to run out of storage room for various baseball card sets.  I've mentioned a number of times that I prefer to store my sets in binders - but that takes up a lot more room than storing in boxes.  As such, while this set wouldn't fill up my shelves, every set that I do put in a binder means there's that much less room for future sets.  Now, depending on what Fanatics does with their baseball card license, this may not matter but for now I'd like to keep an open mind (and some open space on my shelf for more binders)!

For now, I've decided to hang onto my the non-short print version of the 2000 Fleer Focus set and keep that set in a binder.  However, the short prints that I have managed to track down are all going to (probably) end up on COMC with the hopes that I can flip those for different cards that will fill in other set needs instead.

In the words of Kenny Rogers (the singer, not the ballplayer), sometimes you have to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.


  1. For me the answer is never. I know realistically I will never finish all the sets, but any progress is good and it means I never leave a place where cards are unhappy. I'm still three cards away from the first set I started collecting with at 4 years old in 1988...

  2. I concur with Billy. I hold out hope that I'll find them in some big box of mixed stuff that a dealer trying to get rid of a big pile of stuff doesn't care about and will sell for a quarter apiece, or the whole mixed monster box for 40 bucks. (That is how I started this set myself - a guy who only cared about mojo hits sold me 15 monster boxes of misc from a couple sports for a few hundred. There were many s/n rookies from several sets.)

    Or I just say that I am skipping the rookies at the end since I don't care about rookies or cash value. I do that a lot with hockey sets.

  3. All of these seem like valid reasons to give up on the chase. I will say though that COMC is hardly the best place to be looking for these singles. Sportlots appears to have some for much more reasonable prices, might be worth checking out if you haven't already done so.

  4. It stinks you can't get the remaining cards. I would suggest TCDB, but I am sure you have tried-- and cards like that don't always show up in trades. The stars need to align.

    Biggest thing to drive me away from a set is "loss of interest". I tend to avoid high priced sets to begin with, so it's purely interest for me.

    COMC has become a horrible place with the current bubble. Base single prices are just ridiculous.

  5. It's gotta be tough especially for collecting sets from the late 1990s/early 2000s, not only are there so many weird things to chase (short-printed base cards for example), but they just aren't available. One of the things I like about collecting vintage is even if I can't find them/afford them online, I just have to wait for a card show and chances are I'll get some of them there. Forget about finding 2000 Fleer Focus singles at a show.

  6. The funny thing about this post is that this was the reason I got out of the hobby circa 2001 (and sold everything off...fool). Back then I couldn't stand this trend and all the bullets you gave resonate with why I got out. Now that I'm back in I am chasing down quite a few of these sets. Call me a glutton for punishment. No, I won't stop the chase as the completionist in me won't let me. I have set certain sets aside for now until the pandemic bubble (hopefully) bursts. Lately I've had luck on finding sellers on eBay with cheap SP singles just to find out they have a horde of them at decent value. Rabbit holes.... or squirrel.....

  7. I quit attempting to build the 1991 Fleer set before I even started. After busting two boxes, I realized the money spent on the cards and shipping would be several times more than if I just bought a complete set at a card show or on eBay.

    1. When I came back in came to the same conclusion right quick. Some sets, though, I've gotten without the SPs (base) and need to get those for the complete set.

  8. This intentional short print BS seems designed to explicitly discourage set building.


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