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1st Year as a Sports Card Investor and Flipper

1st Year as a Sports Card Investor and Flipper

This guest post came through our Article Submission Program. Thoughts and opinions are those of the author.

Let me start by introducing myself.  My name is Steve Kirby and I go by KirbyCards on eBay.  I can still remember my 1st experience with trading cards as a 6-year-old back in 1989 when at a grocery store, I opened my 1st pack of ‘89 Topps.  I was then hustled by my older brother when he talked me into trading my Jose Conseco for 10 random cards.  I cried to my Mom to renege the deal after I realized that I had been duped. For the next several years I was hooked, blowing all my allowance and grass cutting money on junk wax packs.  I lost interest when I got to high school and other things took priority.  Aside from a few random boxes bought in college, I was completely out of collecting.  In October of 2018, I stumbled upon my old cards and suddenly the baseball itch returned.  After my 1st purchase of a $20 RC Randy Johnson graded lot, I began watching auctions and realized I could make a fun hobby out of flipping.  My goal was to flip to a point where I could buy some of the more expensive cards I wanted as a young teen. I now specialize in collecting PSA graded cards from the ‘80s, Tiffany/Glossy cards, along with iconic polar athletes.

Here are some key things I learned in my 1st year of flipping:

  • Buy cards you would like to keep for your personal collection so if you get stuck with it, you’ll still be happy with your purchase.
  • Find your niche market. Become an expert and know the prices so you can corner the market for cards that don’t come up for sale very often.  For example, if you are ok with stocking up on a specific card you will be able to set the bottom price for it. FYI, there will not be an FF Error Ripken PSA 10 sold to anyone else under $110 at auction.
  • Don’t try to rip people off.  I try to buy at a price point that I can turn around and list it as the cheapest “buy-it-now” option on eBay.  I often compare my prices and list just below some of the largest competitive seller’s prices. I would much rather move volume at a consistent rate than rip off someone who may not know what they are doing.  
  • Learn about various rewards.  It took me 6 months to realize there are eBay bucks with great opportunities to earn 8-10% in rewards at specific times.  When purchasing, these benefits can turn into bonus profit. Also, I am big on credit card rewards. With the right credit card, you can get up to 3% back on online purchases. But you must pay off your balance at the end of the month to avoid any interest.  If you can’t pay it off at the end of the month, do not buy with credit cards.
  • Don’t be afraid to sell a card at a loss.  Cash flow is king, and taking a loss is better than sitting on a card for 6-9 months.  That money could have been used to flip 5-8 cards in that same time frame at a much larger profit.
  • Take notice of trends.  Sportscardinvestor.com has previously talked about Hall of Famers and more recently of Derek Jeter’s soon-to-be induction.  I remember watching auctions end for Edgar Martinez and Mariano Rivera and being amazed at how much their card prices increased.  I am fully stocked to take advantage of that trend this year.

  • List cards as often as you can because getting fresh views on your page helps to sell your inventory.  Many people like myself only search new listings before checking to see what else the seller has up for grabs.
  • Save your searches on eBay.  This makes it so much easier to find what you are looking for within your niche.  Moreover, don’t just look at auctions, some of my best deals have been on “buy-it-now” listings.  Some people need cash fast or don’t know the value of what they have. Remember, you know your niche market and recent sales trends.  Use this to your advantage. Those saved searches help you to be one of the first to see the listings and can allow you to snipe undervalued listings.
  • Create spreadsheets and track everything.  I record every transaction, project sales prices, profit margins, fees, etc.  It’s important to always know where you stand financially.

2019 Results

  • 323 sales transactions  
  • Purchase price of Inventory sold: $11,677.95  
  • Final Gross Sales: $15,554.90 
  • Net Revenue from completed Sales (after eBay/PayPal fee, packing supplies, credit card/eBay buck rewards, mis-shipped items): $1774.57 with an 11.41% ROI per card 
  • Average inventory supply: around $2,000 – $2,500
  • Best Flip: 1985 Topps Tiffany Mark McGwire RC PSA 8.5, Bought for $116.68, Sold for $179.00
  • Worst Flip: 1984 Topps USFL Steve Young RC PSA 8, Bought for $82.29, Sold $20 (I accidentally sent the wrong card to a buyer who had bought a 1985 USFL Steve Young PSA 8)

I currently have much more inventory than I previously had.  I have almost doubled my 2019 net return in just Derek Jeter rookie cards ready to sell at his Hall of Fame announcement coming up shortly. I have done some research like Sports Card Investor. I had also learned that the last 7 baseball players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame saw a 44% price spike within a few days of their announcement over their November and December average sale prices. 

A wonderful article with insight on an eBay seller, can you provide any tips or have any ideas for the community? Tell us in the Comments below.

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View Comments (2)
  • This was awesome. Great stuff, love how you detailed price and sales. I respect your strategy of flipping to move quickly, priced fairly and even encourage selling at a loss to keep money flowing in/out. My only issue with this is how you say to collect what you like, but that tends to be a problem for those of us who get attached to cards and have a hard time flipping. But I love how you have found a niche. I think your approach is what someone like me is attracted to. A fun hobby, in both collecting and selling, and finding a great deal, making money putting it back into your hobby. One could argue you can make more money with same amount of time, but this is so much fun. Thanks for sharing.

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