If you knew me before I created customs and “The Canseco years”, you knew me as a writer / reseller / pseudo dealer. I’d drive around town and buy massive collections, then load the cards up in my cardboard mobile (my minivan) – the ultimate test for the shocks and wheel well clearance. I’d then take pictures, write about the experience and sell.
Out of the millions of cards I’ve done deals for, my Canseco collection is certainly on another level. It has definitely been my biggest sales undertaking from a value perspective – especially considering I haven’t done a whole lot of flipping since I started collecting Canseco years ago.
Now that I’ve shaken off the ring rust and have become fully immersed in the selling world again, and have heard from a ton of you who are interested in selling your collections (for reasons of calling it quits, starting over or just wanting to have a side hustle) I figured it may be helpful to the community to write up an article of how I have found the best way to move cards. It is by no means the best way, nor is it the most complete way of doing things; it is just a collection of tips & tricks that have helped me along the way. I’m not a full time dealer, nor do I claim to be. I have however been very successful doing this part time, so with all that said, let’s dive in!
Know Your Collection
Before selling anything, know what your collection is worth. Is checking eBay’s active listings a good idea to gauge how much your cards are worth? NO. But checking the sold listings is. Still, you cannot see pricing for best offers, so www.sortsof.com is a great resource to determine what cards have sold for.
Searching sortsof.com for SOLD listings is a good way to determine pricing:
Searching eBay for what is currently for sale is NOT (Plus, c’mon peeps – I searched for GOLD. 2 of these are just base!)
I’ll give the sideways Jeter guy props for being ambitious at least! It may very well be the only Topps Gold Jeter sideways variation out there 🙂
Last year, I picked up a collection for the first time in forever. After I made my money back and then some, I had a number of cards left over. After checking sortsof, I was delighted to see the resale value of them added up to be around $1,000. I counted the cost of what eBay and PayPal fees would be, along with the time and effort it would take to list, field offers, ship, etc. and made the decision to throw it all up in one lot for $500 cash on various websites like Craigslist, Facebook, LetGo and Offer Up.
Unfortunately, they just sat. I could not believe that they weren’t moving, given the fact that I was asking half of what sold listings were showing, so I dropped the price even further. Someone from LetGo finally messaged me a couple months ago, asking if I could go lower. I told him I was firm because of the $1,000 value. This sent him into a tailspin about how the cards aren’t worth anywhere near what I was asking! I politely told him that factually they are worth more than double, and let him know about sortsof.com. He arrogantly dismissed my claims, stating the price guide is the only way to check pricing and that I was a ripoff, who will shortly lose all credibility in the hobby and then blocked me before I could “politely excuse myself from the table.” Which leads me to …
TEST YOUR SELLING METHODS
The fellow mentioned above must have had his friend contact me, because a couple days later, I received a similar message which ended up in snide remarks and name calling. If LetGo was only going to be sending knuckleheads to my listings, I knew I had to figure out something else.
I have cards. EBay says they are worth $1,000. I am trying to sell for $500. Why couldn’t I? Ultimately, the asking price of $500 was too much for one person to stomach in one shot. I decided to take about an hour and take pictures, then list them on eBay. Over the course of a month, I sold bits and pieces that got me to my $500 target. I was then able to sell the rest in one shot for $300 to a single buyer. Selling the bits and pieces first dropped the overall price just enough to make it a palatable purchase. You will find that your potential market of buyers for a $300 lot of cards is significantly larger than the potential buyer’s market for $500 lots.
Oh, Doug. You let a sweet deal slip through your fingers because you chose to be salty. It’s like you actually gave me money, so thanks! -Chief
This is definitely a good reminder to be flexible and willing to change your approach. If one way doesn’t work, try another. And another. And another, until something sticks. I’ve sold a lot through Craigslist, eBay, the forums and other places. There isn’t necessarily a magic bullet to sell everything to achieve the best results, but think of it as one big sandbox to try different methods until something works.
A lot of people think that you should just flock to eBay, but be mindful of the fees. When selling my Canseco collection, I decided to stay away from eBay almost entirely for the first couple months (aside from posting a card here and there, as well as one large listing stating my collection was for sale). Without the help of eBay, I was able to move a large portion of my collection. I am just now starting to listed singles for sale on eBay.
DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT?
In fast food, the workers are always encouraged to upsell. If you ask for a burger, they ask if you want fries to go with it. If you get a meal, they ask if you want to supersize it. The same should go for anything you sell. If you have a larger collection, don’t forget to engage all of your customers and ask if they want anything else. You never know what else they may be looking for. Ask them … and follow up. You never know when a $10 sale today could become a $2,500 sale tomorrow. Always remember to be courteous as well. Nobody wants to deal with a curmudgeon of a dealer. I’m reminded of a time when a very rude dealer was needlessly harsh to my son at a card show. Not only did he not get my business; he ceased to get business from others because of it, too. As the saying goes:
“If you do a GREAT job, people *might* tell two others. If you do a LOUSY job, people *will* tell ten others.”
Some people think the only thing that matters are the cards, but nothing could be further from the truth! If you have two people selling the same card, a buyer may very well purchase the higher priced one, if the seller is more pleasant to deal with.
Speaking of which – make sure you are easy to deal with as well. I have personally tried to purchase from people in the past where it seemed like their goal was to play games and make me feel stupid. Give your buyers a reason to spend money with you and allow them to easily make the payment. You never know when haggling for $2 more may cost you a sale, and more importantly, their future business. Remember: emotions CAN be attached to a certain card, and can affect a purchase! No one wants to buy a card with a sour feeling attached to it.
From a shipping perspective, it is imperative that you are prompt and ship everything securely. And please, people – no tape on top loaders! 🙂
MOVING A DIVERSE COLLECTION
When I was more active in buying and selling collections, I would find that collections can be quite diverse. I’ll take one particular example. I picked up one collection for around $2,500. I would always try to make it a game, and keep records in a spreadsheet.
Once I passed the $2,500 mark in selling, I “won” my game. I don’t know why, but it would keep me interested in putting the effort to move forward. This collection included vintage, higher end, complete sets, boxes of commons, boxes filled with semi stars and more.
In this particular example, there are a few different ways this could have been sold. Here were my options:
Option 1: List everything as one lot for $500.
This is good for quick money, but the right buyer would have been limited to being local, and let’s face it. There aren’t a whole lot of people crazy like I am to locally purchase collections like this for $3,000. Plus, I have fun going through these cards. If I just quickly flipped, it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. Had I used this method, I may still be holding onto it now, even!
Option 2: List everything as singles and get $1,000+ more profit than the method that I used
This would have definitely netted me the most profit, but I wasn’t interested in posting 1,000 different listings on eBay while waiting it out for years until everything was gone. I didn’t want to carry an inventory, nor did I want to put hundreds of hours listing things. Doing so would have likely bought me a $5/hr job by way of listing. #deathbylisting
Option 3: Combine Option 1 and 2 and hustle
This is how I normally do things, because it balances a healthy profit and minimal listing time. I used multiple platforms (Craigslist, Social Media, eBay, etc.) so it does require a certain level of hustle.
Here is what I did:
I pulled all of the lower end vintage and sold it for $300 on Craigslist. -$2,200
I listed all of the junk wax in one lot on Craigslist as well and sold for $140. -$2,060
Other miscellaneous cards that didn’t quite fit any other category for $250. -$1,810
Several factory sets locally for $300. -$1,510
A boatload of semi-star and common boxes filled with goodies: $900. -$610
Several other binders and boxes worth of cards were sold via eBay and social media for $800. +$190
At this point, it took 4 1/2 months to move, and I had only made $190 and 90% of everything was gone. The 10% I did have left was the high end stuff. Over the next 4 months, I ended up making $3,213 off of them. What ended up being an 8 month long excursion, netted me a nice $3,403 in profit. That certainly won’t pay the bills by itself, but it happened over the course of 17 transactions, or an average of about 2 transactions per month. While it did take a while to move everything, my time wasn’t eaten up like crazy by listing, dealing and shipping. It was a very happy medium for me!
You may be perfectly fine sitting at your desk listing cards on eBay. I get that more now than I ever have before. This week alone, I’ve posted up a few hundred listings on eBay from my Canseco collection and it has been strangely fun. I’m not quite sure why though. Perhaps it is the rewarding KA-CHING sound my phone makes from time to time, or maybe it is just a way for me to enjoy each piece one last time, but I personally haven’t ever felt this way when listing cards from other people’s collections. You may find it rewarding to do this as well, if you are interested in selling your own collection since you have a personal history with it, which leads me to my final tip:
PRICE THINGS RIGHT
Nobody wants to leave money on the table, I get it. We all have our Mike Trout sob stories of selling too low. Don’t let this be a reason to list your cards unreasonably high – especially if the card is easily found. If a card regularly sells for $75, there is no sense in listing for $150 in hopes of someone pulling the trigger. You may ultimately be sitting on the card for three years, and then decide to drop the price … which may then sell for $40.
KNOW WHEN TO AUCTION, KNOW WHEN TO BINOBO
Well known super rare and super hot cards tend to do really well at auction. Conversely, if you have a card that is super rare but not well known, you may want to BINOBO it (buy it now / or best offer). If no one knows about that obscure 90’s parallel is something special, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. This is especially true if you are trying to list hundreds of cards at auction at the same time. I would HIGHLY recommend against doing this.
I recall one time collector listed ALL of his cards as an auction at once. All told, there were probably 200-300 cards that were ending within the same hour. He had many hard to find inserts and parallels. One such parallel that had sold for nearly $600 the year before, only fetched $125 or so, because the right buyers weren’t paying attention when time ran out. As a side note, someone listed the same card a few days later as a buy it now for $150 because they based the value on the previously ended listing, and a friend scooped it up, then called me ecstatic that the card he missed out on that went for dirt cheap was listed again for dirt cheap. The point is, if that auctioned off parallel card were to have been BINOBO’ed, it would have fetched a lot more on eBay.
I’m not saying there is no time for listing cards at auction, though. I’m just saying there is a time to do it and a time not to. When the time is right, you can come out way ahead. I have personally witnessed cards sell for much higher at auction than if they were listed any other way. One time not too terribly long ago, a seller had listed a run of 1/1 cards from the same set. I personally stayed away from many 1/1 auctions as a Canseco supercollector, because I knew they would go sky high, but this one I went on. The Canseco outsold the 1/1’s Jeter, Thomas, Griffey, Ripken TEN fold. Thankfully, I was not the winner of that one, but it goes to show you – on a highly sought after card, all it takes is two crazy people to drive the price of a card sky high.
All this to say, just like everything, it takes balance. Balance your auctions and binobos!
As I mentioned before, this is by no means a definitive guide from a seasoned full time dealer. This is just a collection of tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way as a guy who loves the hobby and enjoys flipping collections from time to time. If you find yourself interested in selling, the most important thing to start off with is to just do it. I stayed away from selling on eBay for years because I didn’t know how to, was worried about when the right time was to buy. I suffered from paralysis by analysis, and probably lost a lot of money by not utilizing eBay until years later. If you have anything to add to this, I’d love to hear. Good luck to everyone and happy selling!