I've always been a set collector that's never collected sets.
Let me explain.
I started collecting baseball cards when I was 7 years old in 1988. I was introduced to 1988 Topps by a kid at school and I was hooked.
This was shortly after the rookie card craze of the early 1980's and so everyone wanted baseball cards. As a result, baseball cards were sold everywhere. You could find them at grocery stores, convenience stores, department stores, discount stores, and big box stores. And then there were card shops. There were three card shops within a couple of miles of my house.
At the time, I mostly bought packs and it wasn't uncommon for me to get a box every so often. With packs being roughly 50 cents each, you could usually get a box for less than $20, so whenever I ended up with birthday money I'd buy a box or two. I'd usually get a box for Christmas.
In my teenage years I started making money mowing lawns, babysitting, and washing cars and that money typically was spent on packs or boxes.
In high school, I got $10 a week for my allowance and I'd get $2 a day for lunch that I would pocket and I spent most of the money on packs and boxes.
After high school I got an actual job and for a year or so I would spend time almost every Saturday at the card shop buying boxes and doing pack wars.
Then I met my wife and my collecting habits changed dramatically. I had to pay for a ring, a mortgage, car payments, etc, not to mention three kids. Not much money was left for baseball cards, so my habit of buying packs and boxes changed to being more strategic and just purchasing singles.
That is still where I'm at today. I rarely buy packs or boxes. Mostly just singles.
So what does all this have to do with me being a set collector that's never collected sets? Over the years I've opened lots of boxes and after opening all the packs I always put the cards in order hoping to complete a set, but that rarely happened. For the bigger sets, you'd have to buy 2-3 boxes to have a chance at completing the set and for the smaller ones you'd usually be a couple cards short. I would never go back and track down the cards to complete a set.
Like many of you reading this, I've organized my collection many times over the years. Currently all my cards are sorted by team. So the thought of trying to put together any sets from my current collection is out of the question.
But recently I decided that I wanted to collect all of the Topps sets from my birth year (1981) on. So today at the card shop I picked up three Topps sets. 1989, 1990, and 1996. The 89 and the 90 sets are hand collated and the 1996 is a sealed Factory Set. My thought at the moment is that I'd like to store them in binders so I can enjoy them.
3 down, only 32 more to go!