Thursday, July 22, 2021

blue tape and pull-tab awareness week 2021

This is an annual thing I do every year after shark week (just because that's how I remember to do it, lol). Blue tape and pull tab awareness week. These days it's really just one post, but I do my best to keep the spirit of the week in my heart all week, if not all year.

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, boxcutter, 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 with little to no sticky residue left behind. No dangerous blades or fingernail frustration needed!

And 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.

Here's a current look at my supply of blue tape on hand.

Now let's do a quick "how to" on pull-tabs.


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.

I need to update these photos. I don't even have this Kong anymore; traded it away a while back.

  • 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:
  • To go that extra mile, consider putting 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 prone to sticking and being 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 or her 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 (or if it's blue tape, consider sticking it somewhere to reuse later), and enjoy your new card(s) and pristine top-loader!

It's just that easy! So easy to do and so handy for the person getting the cards! 

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.

I'm happy to say it seems like blue tape and pull tabs have become more widespread in the hobby since I started up this "awareness week" on the blog back in 2013, though there's still a lot of room for improvement. (And not that I'm trying to take all the credit. But if I can reach at least one new person each year I run this post, it's a victory!)

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


  1. Amen.

    Always enjoy this week. Well done!

  2. I am a much bigger user of Sportlots than I was when I first started seeing this post and even after so many reminders about the wonders of blue tape it's amazing how many Sportlots dealers insist on elaborate packaging with Scotch tape. I don't have 45 extra minutes to open my package of 5 cards!

  3. I'm waiting for someone to intoduce blue painter's tape printed with the logo of your favorite team/breaker/blogger/forum.

  4. I enjoy this yearly reminder, but as usual the people who NEED to KNOW about this will not read the right posts or articles on the matter. Sadly many of them who would manage to read this valuable information would simply ignore it or not care.

  5. I just stocked up on blue tape last month and have enough to last a few years... maybe even longer now that my eBay sales have slowed down to a crawl.

  6. Thank you very much for this important public service announcement. A link to this post should appear on every trading card site out there ;-)

  7. This is a yearly celebration around the blogosphere