Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pull Tab Awareness Week 2016!

It's that time again... Pull Tab Awareness Week! It's the week when we collectors rally together to bring awareness to proper sportscard shipping best practices.

I've heard the argument "When you buy a card, you're not buying a toploader or other supplies, only the card." By that logic, you have dinner at a restaurant and expect them to dish out the food directly into your hands. No, of course it's expected that they'll provide a clean plate and any necessary utensils for your food. Buying a card online similarly should imply that the seller will provide adequate service when packaging and shipping the card.

It's one of the biggest plights for the sportscard collecting enthusiast of today:

Scotch tape.

Specifically, irresponsible usage of scotch tape to protect cards.

Don't get me wrong, tape is a must-have item for anyone who ever ships cards. A piece of tape over the opening of a top loader prevents the card from slipping out and potentially being damaged in shipment. At some point we've all been the victim of a negligent newb card seller who just throws a top-loader into a bubble mailer willy-nilly (or worse yet, a PWE) and you open to the horrific sight of the card poking out, with a dinged corner or two. A few cards secured between a couple pieces of protective cardboard by some tape is also a good way to keep them safe from the rigors of interstate travel.

But too often, the person mailing the cards doesn't take a moment to think about the recipient. I'm sure you've been in the frustrating situation many times: spending what seems like several minutes chipping away at a piece of tape with your fingernail, trying to free your newly obtained card(s). Such a pain! You could also use a knife or scissor blade to cut the tape, but you run the risk of slipping and cutting in too far, potentially damaging the card. And either way, if it's a top loader, now you've got a trashy-looking top loader with a cut-up piece of tape on it.. time to get your fingernails involved again. Depending on the tape, it could take just a moment, or it could be on there so badly (chipping off in tiny brittle bits, or not coming off at all) that the card holder is essentially ruined. Even in the best-case scenario, some Goo Gone is usually needed to remove the sticky tape residue.

This disheartening scene could easily be avoided!

All the sender needs to do is spend two seconds to fold over a tiny piece of tape, creating a handy pull-tab. This pull-tab makes it super easy for the recipient to grab hold of the tape and peel it off in one efficient motion. No dangerous blades or fingernail frustration needed!


Step 1: Apply tape to one side.

Step 2: At the end of the remaining tape, fold over a piece about a centimeter long, with the sticky part being stuck against itself, creating a non-sticky pull-tab roughly the shape of a square.

Step 3: Apply the remaining tape to the other side.


  • You can also double up on the pull-tabs to make opening cards later even easier. Just follow the above process for each side of the tape you apply.
  • It's also nice to write "pull" on either the tab itself or on the protective cardboard with an arrow pointing to the tab. This is helpful for individuals who might not immediately recognize the tab you've thoughtfully created for them.

Advanced Pro Tips:

  • Blue painter's tape is the best tape to use! It costs a little more than regular clear scotch tape, but it comes off so easily and residue-free that your recipient will love you for it! (For you thrifty types out there, know that blue tape can be reused several times! If somebody sends you a card with some blue tape, put it aside to use again later with someone else.)
  • To be a Super Awesome Card Sender, also put a little piece of paper over the top-loader opening, and tape it on (with pull-tabs, of course!) This will help prevent the rare but tragic occurrence of the card sticking to the tape. This is especially a good idea with old vintage cardboard (more liable to stick and be damaged than today's cards) or when using extra thick top-loaders, such as with relics or other fat cards.
  • Tape can be avoided all together with the use of a team bag secured over a top-loader. Some people, like fellow blogger RAZ (check out his method here), go all out and use blue tape, a paper buffer, and a team bag. Bless these heroes!

A+++++ transaction!!! Would deal with again!

  • Don't make the tab so big that there's not enough sticky part of the tape left to get a secure seal. You want at least a half-inch of sticky part remaining to ensure that the tape holds during transit. If you've got limited tape length to work with, it's better to have a "too small" pull-tab, than "too big". Even if it's too small, at least the recipient can have a good start for his fingernails.
  • If you write "pull" to identify the tab, be sure to write gently. Writing too hard could damage the card.


Step 1: Pull tab.

Step 2: There is no step 2; you're done, bro! Throw away the tape that easily came off, and enjoy your new card(s) and pristine top-loader!

It's just that easy! How has this not caught on? I'm still amazed at the lack of convenient pull-tabs. I've gotten several hundred shipments of cards from dudes on eBay, Listia, or other online trades & sales, and only maybe 5% of them had pull-tabs. Why?! It's so easy to do and so handy for the person getting the cards!


Please, everyone, spread the word. Mention Pull-Tab Awareness Week on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, and to your trade buddies, frequented sellers, whatever! Even just one retweet or a little "P.S. It's Pull-Tab Awareness Week. Please use pull tabs" at the bottom of your next blog or social media post! Let's get everyone on the pull-tab bandwagon and make all our lives just a bit better.

Even if it's not a big deal to you personally and you don't mind fighting with stubborn pieces of tape around your cards, chances are it bugs somebody you trade with. Be kind, make pull-tabs!

Yes, it's a "first world problem", but such a senseless thing that shouldn't even be an issue. Let's eradicate this and move forward as a species. It'll save people a lot of time.. and time is money.. money that could be used for feeding the homeless or medical treatment for children.

Here are some copy-and-paste-ready text and pictures for you to use on Twitter or wherever (feel free to create your own, too, of course):

It's Pull-Tab Awareness Week! When you use tape around sports cards, fold a piece near the end as a handy pull-tab. Please RT! #makepulltabs

Be Cool, make a Pull-Tab! Fold over the end of the tape when packaging your sportscards for shipping. #makepulltabs

We're here. We want pull-tabs. Get used to it. #makepulltabs Please RT! #collect

What do we want? Pull Tabs! When do we want it? When people send us cards! #makepulltabs #collect

Hey everybody, please make handy pull tabs by folding the tape ends when taping up cards to ship. Thanks! #makepulltabs

This year I'm again throwing in a little CONTEST aspect too! Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, forums, whatever. Mention the virtues of pull-tabs, or share one of the above pictures or text (or make your own), or share a link to this post.. whatever! Just make your voice heard against poorly packaged cards sometime this week! Then post a link to your proud stand against scotch-ternary in the comments of this post to enter. A lucky winner will get some free cards tailored to their particular collecting habits.
And included in the prize package will be this 2005 Topps Finest black refractor auto of Tab Perry (get it? Tab?!) #'d 4/99. Sweet card!

Tab Perry (his real name!) set numerous records as kick returner for UCLA. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2005 NFL Draft and finished the season with a franchise record 1,562 kickoff return yards, assisting the team to an 11-5 record and their first playoff appearance in over a decade. He later played for the Miami Dolphins before injuries derailed his promising NFL career.

Thanks for reading and thank you for your commitment to excellence in packaging sports cards!


  1. Great post,a must read for all card dealers

  2. Excellent Advise ... Hope Dealers (card sellers) make note!!
    Passed it along on my blog

  3. Can't stand all the top loaders I have that stuck together from scotch tape residue.

  4. Let's stand together in this!


    1. Blog post

  5. Great message. When is blue painter's tape awareness week? I'm tired of all the residue and ruined top loaders. If I had to choose between:
    1. scotch tape with pull tab
    2. blue tape and no pull tab
    I would choose option #2 every time.

    1. Hey, I can't be the end-all be-all moral compass for the cardsphere! I'm just trying to help "baby steps" ignorant people to start thinking about others when they mail cards. Step one, make pull tabs. Step two, switch to blue painter's tape.

  6. Retweeted: https://twitter.com/breakdowncards/status/750491524559888384
    Just sent you a PWE with blue tape (reused!) but no pull tab. Forgot you were the pull-tab guy until I had already sealed it. Hope there were no problems opening it!

  7. Hallelujah! I just bought a lot off of eBay where the guy must have used half a roll of Scotch tape on five top-loaders. I ended up using a razor blade to pull my cards to safety and tossed the giant tape-wrapped plastic masses into the trash.

  8. I just got an eBay package today, but I don't think it was even scotch tape, it was that clear packing tape. At least if there was a tab I could get the tape off in one shot, but like P-town Tom I'd prefer the blue tape so I could keep an unsticky toploader too.

    Promoted here: