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Flipping Low Dollar Cards on eBay

A data-driven look at sports card investing.

A little bit about myself, my name is Karmy. I’m a Chinese American born here in America. I had to go through many struggles before I got to where I wanted to be. I’m a high volume card seller on ebay.

When I was a young kid, I started buying cards back in 1990 and my first pack of cards I opened were the 1990 WWF Classic. I was looking for a Hulk Hogan card but never pulled one. I still have those cards today. I was hooked on collecting cards and started buying more. Eventually, I started getting into cards in other sports such as baseball, basketball, & football. I told the card shop owner “when I grow up, I want to be just like him and sell cards.” And that’s exactly what I became.

I started to become a card seller in 1999 when Pokemon cards first came out and were really hot. My parents owned a restaurant and they allowed me to sell cards in a little space inside. I started selling Yugioh when it first came out in 2002. Not long after that, I was setting up at card shows in 2003. My parents retired so I couldn’t sell in the restaurant anymore. I created my ebay account in 2005. I was only buying on ebay. I was usually looking for cards that I think I can sell at the card shows.

I eventually stopped doing card shows in 2011 due to little to no profits. I’ve lost thousands of dollars investing on players I thought would be good investments, but ended up being busts. I couldn’t stop selling cards because I still have too many cards. Approximately 2.5 million cards at that time. I had to change something because what I was doing wasn’t working. I stopped buying higher dollar cards($10 or more) from this point going forward because the risk of losing big is too great. Cards in my $1 box and under sold the best at card shows, so it seemed like a good idea to sell only that, but there weren’t enough people buying these at card shows.

I decided to do some research on ebay before I started selling there. I noticed that there were only 2 card sellers with over 2000 listings in wrestling cards. I had bought a bunch of wrestling cards during my first year in collecting and saw this as a great opportunity to make money due to lack of competition. I focused my efforts in buying large wrestling collections, got a flatbed scanner and in 2012, I listed all of my wrestling cards. I got it up to 2500 different listings which was my ebay limit at that time. I had more wrestling cards listed than anybody else on ebay, but the sales weren’t there. I would only sell 30-45 cards per month. Why are sales so slow with 2500 listings? A change had to be made immediately. I reviewed my listings and figured it out. It was the cost of shipping that made sales so slow. I was hesitant to switch to PWE or plain white envelope, but sales were too horrible not to try it. When I lowered the price of shipping to the cost of a stamp and envelope. My sales shot up the next day by 8X and I never looked back. I became the #1 wrestling card seller on ebay. I’ve sold more wrestling singles on ebay than anybody else. 

A lot has changed from 2012 to 2019. I now have over 14,000 different listings and about 600-800 shipments going out every month. I know there are a lot of people that want to be able to do what I’m doing. The money is very good with selling low dollar cards($5 and under). I will share some of my knowledge but be aware, not everybody will be able to do this type of work or has what it takes to get here. Here are my key things you need to do or know.

1. Most important part before you get started. You will need to have a high selling limit on ebay. The fastest way to do this is to register as a business on ebay. Sign up for a Tax ID or EIN (Employer Identification Number). 

2. Be aware that this is going to be a long process to get a large number of listings up and shipping a lot of cards out. Your looking at least 2-3 years just to get started if you do the work by yourself. I’ve seen a lot of people quit after 1-2 years because they can’t handle the long process or don’t know enough about cards and ebay. You need to put in the effort in order for this to work. The process doesn’t stop after 2-3 years. That’s just to get your number of listings up.

3. Open an account with Ultra Pro or BCW and get card supplies at the lowest price possible. AN EIN or Tax ID is required.

4. See if Paypal Micropayments is something that would work for you. Micropayments is a smaller fee for sellers who are mostly selling items that are $12 and under. The fees are 5 cents plus 5%. If this looks like something that works for you, register as a business on Paypal and call paypal to sign up for it. Only business accounts can get this feature. 

5. Having a lot of doubles will be a big key to your success with lower dollar cards. One of the advantages with low dollar cards is you can have a lot of doubles and sell that same card over and over. Example, I’ve sold 70 copies of the 2017 WWE Alexa Bliss for $2 each. That is $140 coming from one listing. The cards are shipped to 70 different people, so you are doing more work in shipping, but the listing stays up.

6. Having the best equipment will be important. Your looking at least $1000 to have the necessary equipment just to get started. If you want to get big in a short amount of time, then having the fastest scanner possible will be a big key. The fastest scanners are currently duplex high resolution scanners which are around $300 used or $750 new. They can scan 3,000 cards, front and back in 60 minutes. The one that I have is the Fujitsu fi-6130z. Keep in mind this scanner won’t scan real thick cards. You’ll need a flatbed scanner along with this duplex scanner. Other equipment you’ll need are laptop computer,scale and thermal printer. A thermal printer can print shipping labels without any ink. Ink is very expensive and could ruin your profits. A thermal printer doesn’t use ink so this will save you a lot of money. 

7. This needs to be treated like a job because it is. You need to make a schedule where you are working on something with cards. An example of this is you can work 2-4 hours from Monday-Friday doing the work. Your looking at about 10-20 hours spent each week on buying collections, sorting, scanning, listing, and shipping. If you skip a day, you need to make up that time. It doesn’t have to be done in 5 days, you could spread it thru 6 or 7 days each week, or only work during the weekends and put in 5-10 hours on both Saturday and Sunday. This will be all up to you.

8. Keep your cards as organized as possible. When you sell a card on ebay, you need to know where that card is at. If it takes you longer than 60 seconds to find a card, that’s not good. If it takes you that long to find one card, can you imagine how long it would take you to fulfill 500 orders? The best way is to sort cards by year, set, numeric order, or if you come up with your own idea that is faster.

9. If your planning to ship like me using mostly PWE for all of your low dollar card sales. Then you need to know the USPS rules for such shipments. The envelope has to bend a little bit for the sorting machines so you can’t use top loaders or send thick or jersey cards this way. You can’t put “Do Not Bend” on the envelope. Doing so can cause the card to be returned to you or to the customer with a postage due for First Class Package or Non-Machinable. Each post office interprets the rules differently. Using card savers or semi rigid holders to ship is the best option. There is a limit to how thick a shipment can go, in this case the maximum is 3 standard cards. You can’t use any cardboard cutouts or dummy cards with this type of shipment. 

10. Don’t be afraid to learn a new sport or about gaming cards. Gaming cards such as Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, and Yugioh shouldn’t be ignored just because you don’t know anything about them or you don’t like them. From my experience in selling cards for the last 20 years, people that are 35 and older are mostly buying sports cards while those that are 25 and younger are mostly buying gaming cards. Gaming cards is where the future is currently at right now, but that isn’t where my passion is at. It’s in sports cards. The best way to learn about gaming cards is to learn how to play each card game. You don’t have to play with the cards, just know how the game is played. This will make it easier for you to identify cards that are good for selling.

11. One of the major reasons why I sell low dollar cards is because it can be very profitable if a common player blows up in price who used to sit in bargain bins. Some examples are Jeremy Lin rookies which went from 25 cents to $15 (he’s back down to 25 cents), Stephen Curry Topps rookie jumped from $2 to $200. And lastly, Tony Romo and Tom Brady rookie cards could be bought for $1-$3 at one point many years ago. I was able to make big profits from the Jeremy Lin and Stephen Curry rookies because I had 9 of each. I purchased the cards in a large collection ($50 for 5000 cards) and those 18 cards ended up bringing me $1,935.

There is a lot more stuff that I could talk about but I’ll leave it at this. You can find my ebay store by searching for my username karmy2005 and karmy2018.

What more would you like to learn about? Tell us in the Comments below, and then join our Facebook Group and Discord Chat to talk to other sports card investors.

View Comments (4)
  • I’ve had nice success over the years with PWE gaming and sports card sales! I like the idea of using a thermal printer – not something I’d ever thought of. Really cool that you found that niche with wrestling cards! I think that’s really the key to success – having your key niche you’re focusing on while also knowing there is truly value in base once you reach the right level of volume. Great insights! Hope to hear more about the wrestling card market in the future – always wanting to learn about new markets.

  • ARE you afraid of people trying to scam because of shipping in pwe. I would but after selling a card graded from Psa price from 25 to 5,000 dollars its hard because USPS has hurt us too because of opening packages or stealing card’s out. IT’S a hard call to say.

  • Since I sell cards that are mostly $5 or less, I don’t get very many scammers. People have been mostly honest. I get 1 out of 1000 shipments where the card was either lost in the mail, the address they gave is incorrect, or the customer lied and stole the card. I only ship in PWE for low dollar orders. When the order goes over a certain dollar amount, I ship with tracking.

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Investing in sports cards involves substantial risk of loss and is not suitable for everyone. We do not provide financial advice, nor do we guarantee results from using our content. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence.

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