Monday, February 8, 2016

Free? Why, That's My Favorite Price!

I have a longstanding habit of grabbing anything that's free; I've been known to say, "if it's free, grab it - you can always decide later if you actually want it."  As such, I've ended up with a lot of flyers, promotional knick-knacks, food samples and, my personal favorite, free cans of Red Bull every now and then when I used to work in Chicago's Loop.

Anytime I saw those goofy looking trucks parked on the corner, I knew it was going to be a good day!

Maybe it's just because I'm a cheap-ass... okay, it's definitely because I'm a cheap-ass... but who doesn't love getting something without having to fork over your hard-earned pay?  If you disagree,  you're lying to yourself and you know it.

As such, there was no way that I was going to miss National Hockey Card Day this past Saturday, a promotion put on by Upper Deck wherein free cards are distributed.  The only thing I like getting for free better than Red Bull would definitely be trading cards - healthier for me too!

For the past few years now, Upper Deck has shown off their only officially licensed partner by issuing a small, special set of NHL cards that are distributed in packs of 5.  They look a little something like this:

This year was no different; both Canada and the US get their own checklist filled with players and teams that are connected to their respective homeland.  When you only have one national sporting league licensed through your company, you've really got to shout it loud and proud.  What better way is there to do that than give free samples?

There was one name in the US version of the set that immediately caught my eye:  Artemi Panarin.  "The Bread Man" has really set the world on fire, stealing the rookie thunder from Connor McDavid, and looks to be a favorite to win the Calder Cup.  As such, the Russian import doesn't have much of a cardboard presence in America yet and the cards he does have come at a premium.

However, last time I checked, free is much better than premium.

A few days previous, I received an email from the Baseball Card King - a small, Chicagoland card shop chain.  In this message, I read that in addition to the free packs, it's shops would be giving a bonus pack to everyone wearing Blackhawks attire.  Double the free stuff?  You've won me over, Baseball Card King!

Come Saturday, I grabbed my comically over-sized Jeremy Roenick jersey that was won at a raffle (again, free stuff!) and convinced my brother, who doesn't give a damn about hockey, to come along with me.  He needed a display for one of his White Sox autographed baseballs and I needed his free packs - I think that qualifies as a win-win.

When we got to the Oak Lawn shop, there was already a building crowd of about 20 people waiting for the store to open.  When the employee on duty that morning came to unlock the door, he was absolutely stunned to see so many people waiting on the doorstep, all dressed head to toe in Blackhawks merchandise.

As it turns out, whoever sent out that mass e-mail advertising the free Hockey Card Day promotions never informed their employees.  The poor guy had no idea what was going on or even that he was supposed to give away the above-seen packs for free - he thought that they were just new product.

Looks like the tail was wagging the dog there - a business really ought to inform their employees about promos before they inform their rabid customer base, just sayin'.

No matter, thanks to the magic of smart phones, everything was straightened out fairly quickly when several customers whipped out their email.  Ahhh, life in the technology-dependent 21st century isn't always such a bad thing, is it?

Anyway, my brother got his ball display, I got my four free packs of cards and everyone left as a happy camper.  However, as I ripped and flipped through my gratis goodies, my mood was teetering on the edge - did I get my coveted Artemi Panarin card??

WEEEEE!!!! Yes I did!

However, I was definitely holding my breath, Artemi waited to show his face until the last card of the fourth pack... talk about cutting it close!  My heart was palpitating like I'd chugged a free Red Bull.

Besides the "Bread Man" beauty, I pulled nearly a complete set of the National Hockey Card Day checklist as well:

If you see anything you'd like, just jot down a quick comment at the bottom of the post - I'll make sure you get what you're looking for.  Like I said, the only card I was legitimately chasing was the Panarin rookie.

These giveaway cards are uber patriotic; but, they look pretty good to me.  I'm certainly not going to complain about the design of a set that I got for the same price as the air that I breathe.

THAT was the highlight of my weekend - as I detailed in my post yesterday, I was much more lethargic in attitude towards the Super Bowl.  What an ugly offensive game it was on both sides on both side too!  I guess the old adage of "defense wins championships" still rings true, huh?

So, did anyone else partake in National Hockey Card Day and get their own free cards?  Was the experience any smoother for you?  Am I bad person for using my brother to get extra cards? (Do I care? Not really).

Now, if only Upper Deck could win back an MLB license from the icy grip of Topps.  Maybe then we could get a free pack of cards and a National Baseball Card Day - how awesome would that be?

Even better than a free Red Bull...


  1. I'd really like that Eichel. Have plenty of Hawks to work out a trade with.

    1. It's all yours Marc - how can I get in contact with you?

    2. Email is the best way. Trying to avoid spambots, so I hope this makes sense.

      at gmail dot com

  2. Replies
    1. I have no idea really - this is only the second time I've been to the Oak Lawn location and it was someone I didn't recognize from any of the other stores. I felt bad for the poor guy.

  3. Dangit I missed this, oh well no Lightning in the checklist anyways. That Dylan Larkin kid is gonna be good for a while

  4. I did not partake but I think it's great that UD does this every year. Glad you got your Panarin!

  5. I'd love the chance to trade for the Hanifin and the Schneider.

  6. I'm not interested in hockey cards but it sounds like a fun time to put on the gear like a cardboard nerd and then arrive at the place to find a whole bunch of other like-minded peeps!

  7. I'm a big hockey fan, but I live in an area void of card shops.

  8. Congrats on the Bread Man! It's been fun watching him play with Kaner. Another win tonight?