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Buying Low Dollar Cards

Buying Low Dollar Cards

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

Introduction

Hello everybody, my name is Karmy and I’m back with my 4th article. I was planning to take a long hiatus from writing articles, but many of you people reached out to me for one more. Some are probably wondering how I’m able to make such a comprehensive article with Flipping Low Dollar Cards on Ebay part 3. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find that article here: https://www.sportscardinvestor.com/2020/04/12/flipping-low-dollar-cards-on-ebay-part-3/ 

What do you think of my picture? Any ladies reading this article, I’m single.

This all started when I was four years old and my dad would buy me some Lego toys to keep me occupied. I didn’t learn how to read yet, but the Lego instruction booklets were very easy to understand and comprehensive with step by step instructions on how to build whatever I had. A few years later, I was more into Transformers and these had instruction booklets similar to the Lego sets. I used the same concept from those instruction booklets and applied it to my articles. If you don’t follow the instructions step for step, it could take you much longer to see success, or you might never see success.

When I first started selling at a card show in 2003, it was at a shopping mall. One of the things I learned is there will be people trying to take advantage of your inexperience in cards, especially if it’s your first time. One of the card dealers at that show came to me trying to sell his 1980s and 1990s junk era cards. He sold them to me at $1 for 1000 cards. I thought it was a really great deal and agreed to buy them from him. He lived close to the mall and had his daughter watch his table while he went home and got those cards. I didn’t know these cards were considered worthless until I talked with other dealers at the show. I had spent $100 for 100,000 cards. I thought I was swindled. Instead of confronting the guy, I tried unloading these cards at the show. I was selling a 3000 count box full of cards for $10. Little did I know that I would sell all of these cards at that show. It turned out to be a great buy after all. I spent $100 and got $330 back. I made $230 profit on those cards. I tried to mark it up to $12 a box, but everybody that was interested was only willing to spend $10. The only problem was I couldn’t get anymore because the card dealer sold everything he had to me. It’s also hard to come across these cards at a show for that price. That card seller and I got along just fine. He saw a lot of people walking around the card show with what used to be his boxes of cards. He knows what I did and thought it was funny to him. He actually tried to sell these cards to those same people moments before he sold it to me and they all said no. Then they go to me and buy those same boxes for a higher price. 

Seven years later in the summer of 2010, I started setting up at an indoor flea market. During my first few months at the flea market, I actually forgot about how I made so much money during my first card show. People were bringing these types of cards to me all the time. When I did start to remember, I became the only card dealer in the city buying these cards up. I offered them the same amount I was getting these cards back in 2003. $1 for every 1000 cards. Half of the people took my offer while the other half would feel insulted. These cards were my best seller and helped keep me in business. These cards won’t sell online due to how expensive the shipping will be. From this experience, I know that any card can sell no matter what year it’s from. It’s all about pricing. If you price it right, it will sell. I was able to sell over 1 million cards doing this method at the flea market.

I did a few card shows just to get the word out to customers that I was setting up at the flea market. When I started making more money at the flea market than I was at card shows, it was time for me to stop doing card shows. During the Christmas season in 2011, the flea market was notifying everybody that they were closing the place in the summer of 2012 and everybody had to move out. I had no plans on setting up at card shows again. But I had too much inventory to stop selling cards entirely. This was when I started researching about selling on eBay. I was able to move my stuff back to my parent’s restaurant. My parents had retired, but they leased the restaurant out to somebody else. I was able to store my things into a storage room that the restaurant wasn’t using.

If you read my previous articles, you know that I took over the wrestling card market on eBay. Wrestling cards are unlike other sports cards and they can’t be treated or viewed in the same way. Unlike other sports, the all-time greats are not my best selling cards. Wrestlers like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Dusty Rhodes and wrestlers like that are one of my worst sellers. When I started selling on eBay in 2012 to today, my top 10 best selling wrestlers during those eight years are: (excluding autos, relics, and numbered cards)

  1. Alexa Bliss
  2. Mandy Rose
  3. Paige
  4. Becky Lynch
  5. Trish Stratus
  6. Charlotte Flair
  7. Hulk Hogan
  8. Torrie Wilson
  9. Ric Flair
  10. Bret Hart

Women wrestlers have dominated my sales and took at least the top 5 spots each year from 2014 to today. Paige was very influential in getting women’s wrestling to where it is today. She kick-started it all in 2014 and even had a movie made about her life experience, which is titled “Fighting with My Family”. Her kiss cards have been the only wrestling cards that have increased in price substantially over the last ten years. I believe it’s due to how big of an impact she had for professional wrestling, which caused her kiss and kiss auto cards to rise up in price. Paige’s 2014 Topps Chrome rookie is tied for best wrestling rookie card during the last 35 years(since 1985) at $20 which is tied with the 1985 Topps WWF Hulk Hogan rookie card.

I would use what I learned from Paige and see if there is another person just as influential in wrestling and has a significant impact similar to what Paige has done and the only ones I found are Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan. Hulk Hogan has a ton of autographed cards and not a single one has gone up in price. I think the reason for this is due to there being too many autos of Hulk Hogan. That brings us to WWE owner Vince McMahon. Vince is the opposite of Hogan and has hardly any autographs of anything, whether it’s autographed cards or autographed memorabilia. Vince doesn’t do private signings because he doesn’t need the money and probably doesn’t have the time. Currently, the only autographed cards of Vince McMahon are the 2019 Topps Transcendent Collection and the upcoming 2020 Topps Transcendent Collection. In my opinion, I do believe that Vince McMahon’s autos will be the next ones to see a substantial increase in price. Especially if Vince passes away anytime in the future, when a star wrestler dies, his autographs will go up 3x or 4x but only for 7-12 days. After 12 days, the price goes back down to almost where it was before the wrestler died. But if this wrestler died at a young age, and/or has very few autographs. That changes everything and it doesn’t come down at all, assuming this person was a big star.

The people renting the restaurant closed up in 2017 and it has been vacant. Nobody was using this space. I decided I might as well use it for my eBay selling operations in 2018 rent-free. I chose not to be open to the public, but I would let customers come in if they make an appointment with me in advance. I had too much theft going on when I was at the flea market. I thought it was best not to be open and only sell cards online. I started attending card shows in 2018, trying to find cards that I can sell on eBay and to fill up that restaurant space with cards. By my estimates, I think I can fit 20 million cards in this 4000 square feet restaurant. I currently have approximately 2 million cards. I will share some insight on what I look for when buying cards at card shows and on eBay.

I will usually bring around $80-$150 cash to a card show and try not to spend more than that. It’s effortless to overspend at a card show. Limiting the amount of cash you bring can help you only spend up to that much. If you have a debit card, you leave that in your car or at home. There have been times when I only spend a small fraction of the money I bring to a show because there wasn’t much there to pique my interest.

I will look for the dime and quarter boxes and usually look for the boxes that have cards from the same sets altogether. I will glimpse into 50 cents and $1 boxes just to see if there’s anything that I can pick up to sell on eBay. The picture below has cards already organized by set, which means less work organizing the cards.

After I’ve found the boxes of cards I like, I ask the dealer if he’s willing to sell the whole box and for how much. I have a price in my head on what I’m willing to pay, but sometimes the dealer will give a better deal than what I was thinking. Always ask for a price first. If he asks for an offer, you ask him again how much. You are the customer and he is the card seller. He’s supposed to give you a price. That’s how it works everywhere. You go to Walmart and everything has a price. If his asking price is too high, I might give my offer depending on how much higher it is from the price I was thinking. If he says $100 and I’m thinking $25, then I know a deal won’t happen, so I don’t bother with giving my offer. If he says $40, there is room to negotiate there. If we can’t agree on a price, then I ask if I pick out a bunch of cards, would he be willing to do a better deal. Most of the time they’ll say yes. I will pick all of the star players in the box, leaving all the commons and semi-stars.

If a box is mostly a mishmash of cards like the picture below, I won’t buy this box because it means more work for me with organizing the cards by set. I just pick the star players and hall of farmers from the box that can sell for $1 or more and leave all the commons and semi-stars in there. If the box has mostly stars and hall of famers, then I would try to buy the box.

After attending the card shows a few times, you get to know which dealers are regulars and which ones are new or first-time card sellers. I usually go directly to the tables of first-time card sellers because I typically get a terrific deal from them. I was able to buy this Venusaur pokemon card for 25 cents. The card sells for $25 in near mint condition on eBay. I was the only one familiar with pokemon cards at the show. I asked him how much for this card and he said 25 cents. Underpriced cards can come from anybody at the card show.

If I find star cards from sets that I’m not familiar with, I throw those cards up as auction first with a starting bid at $1. If it doesn’t sell the first time, then it becomes a $1 buy it now on the relist. I sometimes get cards that sell for more than what I was expecting. I came across a Skybox Soul of the Game Kobe Bryant card that sold for $38, which I bought from a 50 cent box. I didn’t know this card sells for that much money. I was happy that I put the card up as an auction.

7. All of the stars and hall of famer cards that I bought from card shows. I sort these cards into player lots. Example, I put all Drew Brees cards into 1 pile, Shaq cards in another pile, etc.

I would organize the player cards by the manufacturer. For example, I put all David Ortiz cards from Topps on the front of the stack. This stack would have regular Topps, Heritage, Chrome, Allen & Ginter and any other sets made by Topps. Next is Panini/Donruss cards of David Ortiz directly below the Topps stack. Next is Upper Deck/Fleer. All other sets go in the back of the stack, such as Bowman, Skybox, Leaf, etc. All doubles would need to be put together and not scattered.

9. If there are no card shows to attend or the show I went to doesn’t have what I’m looking for. I can always go on eBay to search for card lots. I do find a lot of digital cards in the eBay search. One trick that I use to get rid of all digital cards from search is I use a minus sign in front of the word digital. For example, if I’m looking for a 2020 baseball card lot, I type in “2020 baseball card lot -digital”. This will remove all listings with the word digital in the title while still searching for 2020 baseball card lot. You can do this for as many words as you like as long as there is room in the search bar. You must have a minus sign in front of each word that you want removed in search. Digital cards are considered intangible and are not allowed on eBay. Ebay requires all items that you are selling to be shipped when sold. Just because people are selling digital cards on eBay right now doesn’t mean that you should do the same.

When buying cards on eBay, you need to always read the entire description so that you are not scammed. An example of a scam is when it will say you are buying a photograph of the card. You aren’t getting the card, but you will get a photo of the card shipped to you. The listing was just as described, but you didn’t bother to read the description. Another type of scam is it could say it is a charity listing. It will tell you are donating money to a person so they can afford to buy the card pictured. They will ship to you a photo of himself holding the card. Don’t let these types of scams happen to you. Read the entire description. These scams usually happen with accounts with a very low feedback score of 100 or less.

On eBay, it’s usually best to look for auctions and place a bid on them. You usually get the best deals this way. You will probably lose most of the auctions, but there are bound to be a few that get thru and sell for lower than expected. When bidding on auctions, it is better to use an odd number. Ebay has a rule that if two people place the same bid, let’s say $30, for example. The first bidder automatically becomes the highest bidder over the 2nd bidder. But if you put in an odd number bid like $30.01. You become the highest bidder by a penny. I’ve won many auctions due to that extra penny I put in the bid. It won’t work all the time, but it does help sometimes. You place a bid that you are comfortable with paying and you are able to make money if you win. I usually put my bid early whenever I find a listing that I like. Let’s say, for example, I’m willing to pay 10 cents per card on a 1000 card lot of Barry Bonds. I would put a bid of $100 and hope I win. I won’t be putting another bid; this will be my one and only bid. This is the price I am willing to pay where I feel I can make money and I’m not spending more than that. Shill bidding can still happen. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the seller participated in the shill bidding. If you lose the auction and then you get a 2nd chance offer just a few moments after you lost the auction. That could be a sign of shill bidding. I usually ignore 2nd chance offers, but if you still feel comfortable with taking the 2nd chance offer because you can make money. By all means, go ahead and accept it. If this person relisted the cards, I’d still put a bid on it once again, but this time I lower my maximum bid. Sometimes I would win these relisted auctions for less money the 2nd time around.

If you are looking for gaming card lots to buy on eBay. You need to know that these types of collections will most likely have damaged and/or fake cards mixed in. The damage/fake cards can make up anywhere from 5-10% of the entire collection. You need to adjust your bid accordingly. For example, if the card lot has 1000 cards and you are willing to pay 5 cents per card across the board. That means you are thinking $50. You deduct 10% of what price you want to pay, which gives you a bid of $45. If the person is charging for shipping, you can deduct that from your bid as well if you want. You will lose these auctions more times than winning. Bidding on multiple auctions would be best. If he has a photo of a Priority Mail box filled with cards, there is a 100% chance that you will get damaged cards. This is the worst way to ship cards. I’ve had sportscard sellers send me cards this method, with 10-15% of the cards damaged.

13. Another way to buy on ebay is to search for the newest listings. Sometimes you can find underpriced buy it now listings. This doesn’t happen very often. But you never know.

One thing I do when buying on eBay is to try not to buy card lots from someone who has a large eBay account with 250 or more positive feedback in the last 30 days. I’m only buying from people who don’t have a ton of feedback. When I buy from someone with a large eBay account, the card lot has no chance of having cards that make good money.

eBay is the largest platform that has the most people buying and selling cards. There are other alternatives like Bonanza, Mercari, and TCGplayer, to name a few. These sites won’t get the same traffic as eBay does. Most of these other sites don’t have any insertion fees like eBay, which looks like a good thing to sellers but might not be to buyers. If there is no insertion fee, then the seller would feel no pressure to make a sale on a card that he may have overpriced. There is a good chance that this seller might have quit selling on the site months ago, but he didn’t bother to delete his listings. You could end up buying a card and he never ships it out because he didn’t bother to take down his listings after he quit.

16. If you have more than 1 ebay account. I use 2 different browsers for each account so I don’t have to log off and on to switch accounts. I use Google Chrome for my main store and Internet Explorer for my 2nd store. Saves me a lot of time.

17. Always try to leave positive feedback for the seller. This could be a very important thing for both you and the seller. The importance of feedback will be discussed later in this article. If there’s a problem and it’s something minor, I usually don’t leave any feedback at all. I think it’s best not to leave any feedback than to leave neutral feedback. 

It’s going to be an uphill climb if you don’t have a high feedback score on eBay. It needs to be somewhere around 1000 or higher before you can see some success selling low dollar cards on eBay. Your feedback score is the number next to your eBay username with a star. You can increase your score by buying everything you need right on eBay. If there is a movie or whatever it may be, buy it on eBay. When my main eBay account started to explode in sales in one day when I switched to PWE shipments, this account’s feedback score was already over 2000 with 2500 different listings. It already had a high feedback rating and the sales came immediately once I made the switch. My 2nd account was created in January 2018 and it didn’t get consistent profitable sales until late March 2020. That store has currently made money two straight months(April-May), which is a first with June looking promising so far. That 2nd account would lose a little bit of money in most months. Sometimes it’ll break even, a few times it’ll make a profit. But I had my main account to help balance it out. If you are planning to do things like I am with selling low dollar cards at a high volume and you have a low feedback rating less than 100. This is going to be at least a 2-3 year process with no way around it. Most of the work is in the beginning to start your business up. You will probably lose money or have lackluster sales in the first two years. Most people quit before they reach the goal due to them being impatient, don’t know how to buy and sell cards, or don’t have the money to continue. But the reward could be well worth it if you stay the course which will be discussed in the next step.

Some people may question if something like what I’m doing is profitable or not. If you’re good at math, then you can calculate it and see it for yourself. I get around 600-800 shipments per month. A shipment can have one or more cards. If you’re not good at math, then I’ll try to do it here. This is assuming you can reach my level of selling cards at a high volume on eBay. Let’s say you have an anchor store that costs $300 per month on a yearly subscription. You sell on average, approximately 1000 cards each month with an average selling price at $1.50, as stated in my previous article. That gives you $1500 in sales per month. Ebay takes its final value fee of 9.15%, which is $137.25, but we’ll round that down to $137 to make it easier. Out of those 1000 cards sold, there are about 600 transactions due to people buying more than one card. Paypal’s micropayments take 5% plus 5 cents for each transaction, which comes out to be $75+$30 for a total of $105 in PayPal fees. $1500×0.05=$75. 600 transactions x0.05=$30. You add the eBay fees of $437+paypal fees $105=$542 in total fees. Now you need to add how much you paid for those cards. Let’s say you paid approximately 5 cents for each card, which brings it to $50 for 1000 cards. You add that $50 to the fee total, which brings you to $592. You deduct that from your sales of $1500 to give you a profit of $908 each month. Now you divide that profit into the number of hours you put in each month, in my case it’s 40 hours per month. That means I would be making $22.70 per hour. If you charged for shipping, then you don’t need to add that to the total. If you have free shipping on all your cards, then it needs to be added to your fees.

Ebay store fee $300 Total sales $1500

Ebay final value fee $137 Total Fees $592

Paypal fee $105 –_________________

Cost of cards $50

+___________________ Profit $908

Total cost $592

Another way to get cards is to have cards on consignment. If you have friends that trust you and you have a large eBay selling account. A selling limit of 10,000 items or higher is recommended. You can have your friends give you his cards to sell on eBay. I’m currently selling cards for one person on consignment, similar to what COMC does. The difference between COMC and myself, I only take the base and insert cards of $3 or less, but the cards need to be organized by set and in numeric order or by the player before I would take them. I’m taking 50% of the selling price and I price all of the cards myself. Because I price everything for my friend, it has a better chance of selling. He doesn’t care what he gets for these cards. COMC doesn’t price any cards themselves, which can be a good or bad thing. If you price a card too high, it’s not going to sell no matter who you have selling for you. I ship most card orders in PWE. I use tracking when the order goes over $10. COMC doesn’t ship in PWE. For me, one shipment out of 1000 in PWE will either get lost, stolen or returned to you due to insufficient or incorrect address. Most people are honest. Your friend receives some good money out of those cards and it didn’t cost you any money to get those cards. You will need to keep track of your friend’s card sales by taking notes on what sold. What I do is when I pull a card out for shipping, I write down how much it sold for.

Bonus tip. For those that want to know how I write an article. There is a formula that I follow when making these articles. It has to be a great topic that can generate interest. I first introduce myself by telling a story about how I started getting into collecting cards, selling cards, or anything else that comes to mind. After that, I give step by step instructions on how I do things. Next, I try to put together an excellent ending to close the article. I try to give as motivational or inspirational a speech as possible for a good closing paragraph. You need a good ending to go with the story that you are telling. At the end, I try to get people to follow me either on eBay, Facebook or wherever. Give examples if needed so it can be more clear to people what you are saying. Take your time to write an article. It’s not homework or a project due for work. Take the time to make it as great as possible. It takes me one month to do each article. I put in a lot of time to make sure I have everything I want to say without missing something. I read it over a few times to check if everything looks right. I’ll make some minor tweaks here and there if needed. When I feel it’s better than good, I submit it. I try to word certain steps carefully with an open mind that not everybody might view it the same as myself. Everybody has different opinions about everything. My articles get a lot of attention due to my experience and it shows in these articles. I have more experience and knowledge with cards and eBay than most people. I have two large selling accounts on eBay and the numbers to back it up. You won’t find many card sellers that are equally as knowledgeable about sports cards as they do gaming cards. I have over 4200 positive feedback during the last 12 months between the two accounts.

Father’s Day is here and what a good time to talk about my dad. My mom never buys any toys for me. She usually only buys food, clothes, and math books so she can teach me math. But I can always count on dad to get me the toys that I wanted. I lost my dad in 2014. Dad had a rare type of cancer that occurs when eating too much potassium. Food such as spinach, bananas, oranges, and melons are the suspected culprits for the cancer. It was a hard time for me and one of the things that took my mind off dad’s death was working on cards. As long as I stayed active and kept myself busy, it took my mind off it. I will say, if dad never got me those toys when I was a child, my article submissions might not have been as good. I can thank my dad for that. If your dad is still alive, take the time to thank him for everything that he has done for you. You never know when your dad won’t be around anymore.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I’ll probably take a long hiatus after this. I feel like I’ve been making a book for several months. Ebay is currently trying to move everybody into managed payments by the summer of 2021. I’m not using managed payments yet, so I won’t be discussing that until that day comes for those that want to reach out to me. The best way to do this is by Facebook or eBay. You can do so with the links below. If contacting me on eBay, be aware that any contact information such as email, links, phone numbers, or anything similar is not allowed per eBay’s rules.

Main eBay anchor store https://www.ebay.com/usr/karmy2005

2nd eBay anchor store https://www.ebay.com/usr/karmy2018

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sportslegend/

Karmy is a multiple-time article submission winner and for a good reason. After reading his articles, it is hard to ask the question, do you have anything to add? This article provided valuable insight to an eBay seller with tips for you all that want to start selling on eBay or other platforms. We would love to hear your feedback regarding the article.

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View Comments (2)
  • Question?

    I’ve sold about 300 cards in the pass three months. Most have been $1.00 to $2.00 range with free shipping. I feel with all the fee’s I’m not making that much. Shipping has avg. About .55 an order, Postal service has lost two shipments, one was 29 cards sent in a first class letter (cost $7.50). How can I do better, my account has 884 feedbacks, all postive.

    Thanks,
    TJ

  • Another awesome article! After reading the 3 part article, and this one all of my questions are answered. Thank you so much for so if the information you have shared with us!

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