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Sort Week Process for Brothers In Cards Sports Hobby Boxes

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Jonathan Keith & Andrew Dicken standing at their booth at a sports card event
Jonathan Keith & Andrew Dicken

At Brothers In Cards, we love both putting on our Pack Plus Program and doing it right. When we started the program in 2017, the sports cards hobby boxes sorting process took a few hours. A couple of years later, it became Sort Day. Now, it is a week-long process (sometimes longer) that we meticulously go through, step by step, to make sure we are sending out the best sports card subscription box in the hobby. Sort Week is coming next week - take a look at how it all happens.

What happens on Due Date

We take in orders all month long in anticipation of the final numbers. Sometimes we reach our goals, sometimes we do not. Each Due Date brings different problems to solve as we finalize exact lineups and order any wax needed in addition to our current inventory. I usually try to relax with my family on this day, knowing that things can change a lot each hour.

On Due Date weekend, we have seen as many as 1,000 packs get sold and as little as 200. Due Date is a huge day for the program, but the work really starts on Monday when the numbers are final.

How we randomize the sports card packs

We used to randomize all the sports card packs on the Monday after Due Date. The more we grew, the more unpredictable the final numbers became. The workload on the Monday after Due Date became so heavy that we struggled to get it done without cutting into family time at night. We learned and grew from that. Now, Monday is a steady 9-5 workday, and I usually get a little more done after my boys go to bed.

Pulling the orders, creating the pack sheets, confirming the lineups – it's a lot of work. The goal is always to go into Tuesday morning ready to randomize the card packs, although there's often a bit more work to do. We aim to randomize the packs around noon and always stream the process live on our YouTube Channel.

As soon as the packs are randomized, Andy starts making stickers for the boxes and I start converting everything into the pack sheets we post on our website. Watch one of our randoms from July 2020 here.

The preparations we make

The Due Date-Randomization process is 100% my responsibility. Then, there is also a ton of work as we undergo Sort Week. Andy and Josh are still teaching (it is always nice to have them in the summer), so Mason and Pops bear the burden of many tasks in Sort Week.

They work hard to make the Brothers In Cards boxes (donated by Indy Card Exchange), put the stickers on boxes, set up tables for us to work on, check and double check inventory, and open all the boxes to help us pull card packs efficiently – they stay very busy! On our biggest months, we even had to bring in additional help for these preparations.

What the Big Dawgs mean to us

We are blessed to have great relationships with a few card shops across the country. Indy Card Exchange, RbiCru7, and Meelypops all carry our boxes in their store. They have ordered 150+ boxes in a single month before. We usually take a day to put together these orders. While their hobby boxes are randomized with everyone else's, we pack them separately so that hits are guaranteed in their boxes.

For example, when Indy Card Exchange orders 50 Gold Boxes of Football Cards (and those boxes require 5 boxes of Certified), we use 5 whole boxes of Certified to make sure that all 20 hits go into those boxes—as opposed to pulling from random boxes, giving the slim chance of getting 0 hits out of 50 packs.

We do the same for individual boxes that get multiple sports card packs of a product. For example, if you were to get 3 packs of Certified, we would pull them all from the same box, giving you the best chances of a hit.

Taking care of our Big Dawgs makes for a long day. We hand deliver to Indy Card Exchange, and we ship to RbiCru and Meelypops. It is always a huge win if we can have this done by the end of the day on Wednesday—although it usually lingers into Thursday.

What happens on Sort Day

We always schedule "Sort Day" for the Friday after Due Date. This is typically set so Andy and Josh can take the day off from teaching and contribute in the "all hands on deck" fashion.

On Thursday, we finish all the preparations and conclude with various tables at BIC Headquarters, covered in thousands of hobby packs, organized by sport, and every Brothers In Cards hobby box, empty, labeled with corresponding stickers, and ready to be filled.

Brothers In Cards labeled boxes ready to ship to customers

We hit the ground running on Friday morning. Andy and I typically meet first to talk about business needs that came up during the month (eBay, card shows, breaks, etc.). The others arrive around 9 and we dive in. Everyone is assigned their own sport. For example, Josh may sort football card packs, Pops may sort basketball card packs, and Mason may sort baseball card packs.

In addition to the Big Dawgs, we also keep everyone that ordered multiple boxes separate. Andy manages these. These boxes are usually made up of our sports pack offerings: football cards, basketball cards, baseball cards, and now soccer cards too. So, Andy is running all over the room to make sure each box is accurately packed.

While this is going on, Pops is managing several aspects of the day, and I am facilitating, problem solving, and keeping things organized.

What we do for lunch

Half Moon Restaurant & Brewery Wings Special
Half Moon Restaurant & Brewery Wings Special

It takes a lot of focus to read all the packs off of tiny stickers. When we get all packs sorted, we are all kinds of ready for lunch. I don't know when it started, but we continue the tradition of going to Half Moon for lunch every Sort Day. It's a restaurant in Kokomo, Indiana with a phenomenal spread of appetizers and wings. I get the Brew Fingers every time—covered in their signature sweet barbecue sauce. This an essential piece of the process!

Putting the "Plus" in our Pack Plus Program

When I came up with the name for the Pack Plus Program, our brand's vision kept us doing the things we already did, such as eBay sales and box breaks. The plan was to include cards from our eBay sports cards store and our breaks in the boxes with the sports cards packs from our program. And that's exactly what we do.

In fact, you can get FREE SHIPPING on our eBay store when you win cards from our $1.99 auctions (we have nearly 1,000 auctions running this week - check them out here).

On the way back from Half Moon, there are always questions about how long of a nap we are going to take or when the 2nd shift guys are coming in. I have to remind them that neither are going to happen, so we have to get back to work.

We alphabetize each box by first name. We have tables set up usually organized by A-G, H-J, K-Q, R-Z. At this point in Sort Day, Andy distributes all the break cards, and Pops and I distribute the eBay cards to their boxes. It is a relatively short process, but extremely important.

How we get your hobby boxes shipped

Once we finish placing all break and eBay cards on top of their respective Pack Plus Program hobby boxes, Josh and Mason start filling the boxes with packing peanuts (this is the least fun part of the whole process). As others finish their various tasks, everyone jumps in on the peanut filling train. If we had a fast-forward button, we would use it here.

Next, I print the labels from our shipping station and distribute them to each table. We attach the labels to the BIC boxes that need them and move them to the "done" table. Here, Mason (the youngest of us) checks each box to make sure the shipping label and the pack sticker have the same name, then puts them into the totes.

We have never once finished this process before the post office closes on Sort Day. On our biggest months, we have been at HQ until midnight or later. It's a long day. There are all kinds of little problems that need attention – incorrect addresses, shipping station issues – there is always something. We also have some labels that we need to type manually. As these smaller tasks add up, this part generally rolls over to Monday.

The reason we always mark the shipping date so far after Due Date is to give us time for these unforeseen issues. Sometimes sports cards products' release dates get pushed back too, which brings a whole different set of challenges, so we set our dates to prepare for that.

The truth is: we want to get these hobby boxes out AS SOON AS WE CAN. We want them out of HQ. We want to see what cards you pull out of all those packs we just sorted! And, I am always champing at the bit to get going on the next month's Pack Plus Program.

Next week, like all Sort Weeks, is a busy week for our team. We're ready for it! We always appreciate your support and your patience during this time. Thank you!

Jonathan Keith


Brothers In Cards

Here's a behind the scene's look at Sort Day from 2019 for reference:

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