I've noticed a trend in some of the blogs we visit are comparing hobby vs. retail and I felt the need to add my 2 cents. I work part-time in a store that sells hobby only packs of everything, and coincidentally is about 50 yards from Target and retail. I am not going to say how many days (all) that I have left the mall with one or the other, or both.
Right now the store I work in is selling UD Timeline packs for $4.29 up from $3.99 a week ago, and is also selling UD Masterpiece Baseball for $6.99... Masterpieces for $6.99! I did make an attempt to purchase 2 packs from fresh boxes and see what happens. I ended up with 2 YSL cards, and crap. We have like 7 of every card from this set, and I have two blasters which makes me an idiot for buying two hobby packs for that price. In Target you can get UD Timeline for $1.99 a pack (way more fun), and they haven't had the Masterpieces in a while. We also just got in the Ballpark Collection at $49.99 per pack (3 GU and 1 AU per pack on average). Needless to say, I will not be purchasing any of those.
My other issue with this debate is the problem with the pricing of retail blasters. They are marked from the card companies at $19.99, however Modells and Sports Authority like to charge $24.99 for them. They can go scratch unless I am getting a sale price. The same stores also charge a dollar or two more for rack packs as well.
2008 Stadium Club... we could go on and on about what was Topps thinking releasing yet another product with a price tag not conducive to what most collectors can afford in this economy, or are willing to spend with the economy in a downward progression. Anyway, point is I got a blaster and a ton of base cards and 1st day Issues AND ONE SP AUTO for $19.99. One pack of hobby is $24.99 vs. one pack of retail for $2.99 if you are just trying to get your favorite players or set build. Topps can get bent for that pack.
I buy both hobby and retail, and often in one trip. It depends on my mood and what I feel like opening at the time. I honestly feel like if you are just trying to build sets or pull players, there is just as good of a chance at that in the cheaper retail versions of the packs. However, if you collect Albert Pujols or Derek Jeter you more or less have no chance at getting them in either pack. (I still do not have all the UD Timeline, or the Stadium Club cards)
We will be going out on Sunday together, which means we will end up on some wild goose chase for baseball cards and have something interesting to report, I hope. Until then, you may have to cross your fingers that I open one of my bargain blasters from K-Mart (that is the 2 for 1 08 Masterpieces). I am working all day tomorrow so God knows I will have purchased something dumb by this time tomorrow.
I'm done for now.