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All out talk recently on the show has focused mainly on selling boxes/singles as the way most people get into starting a sports card business. However, the low hanging fruit is in supplies - not the actual cards or boxes themselves! Think about it, every collector, no matter how serious needs supplies to protect their cards. Not to mention that there really hasn't been much change or innovation in the sector for quite some time (the magnetic snap on cases is the most recent I can think of). Finally, and most importantly, there is no clear online retail leader in the sector.
Here are some reasons why I think selling supplies is the much more feasible way to break into the business:
Lets Take A Look At The Online Competition
As you can see, despite lots of companies paying to show up in these results - they really aren't very impressive. The first result is in part because it's an exact match - but the site looked dated and I'm not even sure it had SSL protection. It's appearing at the top because no one else serves the market well enough to appear in that position. The second result is the most relevant - however they do big business to other card shops & retailers so they are never going to compete on price because it would alienate their best customers. The third result is essentially more ads, however you can easily appear here by submitting your items to Google for free.
Below the fold you find UltraPro - who you will probably purchase from, but an average consumer cannot purchase from this website ... so for other Google searches, it might not even appear. DA Card World has a good supply & prices, so no need to under-cut them ... in fact you can probably get away with charging a little more if your shipping charges were reasonable. The rest of the results you can almost ignore - as if you started an online shop you could get to the 7th or 8th position in a few short months.
Some more complex ideas include manufacturing your own supplies, given that the market it under-served on both the retail and innovation side. Custom binders and cases that hold book cards are often what people want - but can't find. Keep in mind if you go this route - don't use team names or logos, just use city names when referring to teams.
Jeremy Lin has taken the hobby world by storm & it's wonderful for collectors, fans and people just casually following the NBA. It just goes to show you that athletes can come out of nowhere and become household names (especially if you play in New York). Would Jeremy Lin be as hot if he won games for Golden State or Houston - we'll never know, but it just goes to show you that where you play probably has a huge factor on how hot you can get.
Lastly we touch on getting kids into collecting - which always seems like something the card companies want to do. I think the formula is simple. Kids are in school 8 month out of the year - so that's where you expose them to cards. Topps had the 'sketch card' concept last year - and that would be a perfect thing to turn over to school and let kids design cards in class for some kind of prize.
Listen To Show #90 Below