Baseball cards are hot, and in many cases selling for a lot of money. You can make money selling baseball cards, but it’s not as easy as buying a pack and striking it rich. There are many different ways to go about selling baseball cards for profit. It is not one size fits all. Not every method will work for you. Find a niche and you can make it work. This article will go into detail on how I have been able to make money selling baseball cards.
Large Work, Small Margins
If you want to make money selling baseball cards, do not expect to get rich quick. It must be fun for you, and worth your time. I have collected baseball cards since 1988, and began selling cards online shortly after eBay was invented in the mid-1990’s. A few people make a lot of money and many people lose money trying to flip baseball cards. It takes a lot of work, and the margins are often small.
This article will explain how I have made money selling baseball cards, but there are many others who make money by doing it differently. There are high end buyers and sellers. Some buy raw cards and submit to PSA or Beckett for grading hoping for gem mint 10’s. Others buy collections and part them out. There are also box breakers who can make big profits. Find your niche, practice, and get comfortable.
In the past I have tried a few different methods. In 2015, I began buying cases of products. Initially, I started with Topps Heritage Minors because it was a cheap entry into case breaking. Sportlots and eBay were my main platforms to sell. Eventually, I scaled up and in 2016 and 2017 I was breaking cases.
Buying Boxes/Cases & Selling Singles
Here is one method I made money selling baseball cards. Remember, this was also in 2016 and 2017 and the prices of hobby boxes was significantly less than what we are seeing in 2020. For example, my case of 2017 Bowman cost me $797. Cases of 2020 Bowman are selling for $3,000 on Blowout Cards. So…I would not advise buying a case of 2020 Bowman and expect to make money.
When I was buying cases and listing on Sportlots, I always received the case on or the day after release day. I would pre-list a certain amount of base cards to get ahead of the game (because those cards are guaranteed). Once all boxes were opened, I would sort and list as soon as possible. Hits would be listed on eBay, while all singles and inserts went to Sportlots.
The key to making money was getting the base cards listed as soon as the checklist was released on Sportlots, and opening and listing the cards as soon as I had busted open the boxes. I was making 35% of my case cost back just selling base cards. Topps Heritage was a great money maker, and Allen & Ginter was both a profit and loss. One year A&G was a big money maker, while the next year was a big loss. I never tried the Sportlots case strategy with flagship Topps, but it seems it could be a profit even today.
Again, my experience breaking cases and selling on Sportlots is based on 2016 and 2017 numbers. I do not think it is sustainable with many products in 2020, most notably Bowman (which was even a big loser for me in 2017 at $800 a case). The key to all this is doing your homework.
Study the Baseball Card Market
Before I really immersed myself in the baseball card hobby, I was buying garbage boxes from Blowout Cards and other online card retailers. During the holidays, the online retailers will have big sales on non-selling products. There are some real gems to be found, while most are big duds. I found myself buying the duds many times.
How did I learn? I mention Blowout Cards often in this article, because it is typically the lowest online retailer of hobby boxes, but most importantly the Blowout Forums have given me so much information on what to sell, and when to sell it. It’s almost like the posters in the threads are one step ahead of the game.
Often I have opened up the forums to find a thread about the enormous popularity of a certain player or product. It also helps me to find which prospects to buy or sell, products that could be or are hot, or even how the retail segment of the hobby works.
Do your homework, like with anything. Immerse yourself in the Blowout Forums if you want to make money selling baseball cards. Treat it like you would your newspaper (remember those things?). Read it every day.
This Is How I Make Money Selling Cards
Most of the money I make selling baseball cards these days is by acquring collections from Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Sometimes you can find a needle in the haystack collection that provides a huge return on investment like this Craigslist baseball card collection did for me.
Many of you will say, “I never find deals like that.” Keep looking. I peruse Craigslist for my local market as well as surrounding cities regularly. Even doing so, I only find a great collection about once a year. And I could probably find many more if I had the room to add and looked a little bit further.
So, how do I decide if it’s a good fit? A lot of it is just knowing the hobby. By immersing myself heavily the past five years I can get a good gauge on return by looking through a little bit of a collection. The key is for the collection to have some heavy hitters that will take a nice chunk of the total cost on the flip.
What I mean by that is the cream off the top. A few things that will sell for 10-20% of the total investment of the collection. The above Craigslist collection had a couple items that sold for $100 and a set that sold for $200. That was almost $500 of the $900 purchase price. Not to mention there were/are a thousand cards that sell between $1 and $20.
PWE means plain white envelope and is an amazing part of the hobby these days. As a buyer, if I am looking for a $1 card, I am not going to pay $1 plus $3 or $4 for shipping in a bubble mailer. But…I’ll pay $2 or $3 if it is shipped in a PWE. As a seller, I have thousands and thousands of baseball cards that could sell for $2 or $3 shipped in a PWE. But nobody is going to pay $5-6 for those same cards.
This video shows you how I safely package a baseball card in a plain white envelope (PWE). Now you are wondering how I can actually profit by selling a card on eBay for $2 shipped taking into account eBay and Paypal fees.
I am signed up for Paypal’s micropayments, which is 5% of the gross cost plus a $0.05 transaction cost. My eBay fees are 11%. So, on a $2.00 card, I am paying eBay $0.22 in fees plus Paypal gets $0.15. The stamp costs $0.55, so my net profit is $1.08 less supplies cost. I buy top loaders in bulk or used, and the last several thousand used top loaders set me back only $0.02 per top loaders. Penny sleeves are under a penny when bought in bulk, so my net profit stays above $1 on a $2 sale.
Opening an eBay Store
I have scaled up my eBay Store since COVID-19 hit us. Ebay began offering 50,000 free buy it now listings for store owners for March through July. With the extra time, I have listed hundreds more items at no additional cost.
That is one of the best reasons to open an eBay Store, and here I detail the advantages of owning one. You also need to know what to sell. Are you going to sell a 1989 Topps Mark McGwire on eBay? No. But, I have found singles from the 1970’s and stars from the 1980’s have been selling well lately. Examples include set fillers for mid-1970’s sets, and super stars from the early 1980’s.
If you open an eBay Store, it’s also a good addition to have benefits for volume buyers. I offer 10% off purchases of three or more cards from my store. This incites buyers to pick up additional cards, and you can up the margin per card sold by saving on postage costs.
Since tweeting about making money selling baseball cards several days ago, I had many people email and direct message me with questions. I am always willing to help out and answer any questions you may have on this or any other topic.