My personal top 5 most fun things to do in the sports card industry. What are yours? firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Attend the National Sports Card Collectors Convention The marquee annual sports card show delivers an A+ grade on the fun scale. A true site to behold for any new or long time collector. On the fence about attending a NSCC show? Get off your sofa and do whatever you have to do to attend. Don’t have a lot of money? Just get in the door and you will enjoy yourself without spending a dime. The NSCC is a place to see some of the most rare and unique sports items being offered up for sale. A candy store for anyone who loves sports.
Not all dealers are selling big ticket items, you could spend the entire day going through .10 cent – .25 cent boxes of single cards and walk home with a huge stack for a few dollars. The NSCC is also home to the TriStar autograph tent where big name athletes are signing daily. I could not be more emphatic – this is 100% real talk – go to the National and it will be worth every penny.
2) Go to a card shop
One of the most enjoyable days I’ve had in a long time was going to a card shop in Missoula, Montana. I was in Missoula to see a Pearl Jam concert and had some time to kill before the show. I found the Gold & Silver store on the Cardshop Finder phone app. Once inside it was a throwback to the days when I had my own store and remembering the fun times talking to collectors.
Several people, both men and women, came in and spent well over $200 each when I was in there. They were having a blast opening packs and boxes of the latest offerings from Panini, Upper Deck and Topps. Watching someone open packs in person beats any YouTube video. Get the right mix of people in a card store and all sense of time goes out the window. The mix of sports, gambling, and cards is intoxicating to say the least.
3) Start a website
A great way to promote the hobby is to start a blog or website about cards. Write about your own cards and it can provide motivation for someone reading your work to continue building their own collection. Even the smallest blog can help grow the community of card collectors.
Having your own website can also help keep you involved in the hobby. That is certainly the case for me, as after I failed running a card store that closed in 2008, I never really thought I would get back into the industry. Inspired by listening to Poker related podcasts, my brother started Sports Card Radio in late 2008. I think at the time there was one other sports card podcast, the Superfractor Podcast, which I believe is unfortunately no longer making shows. After the first couple shows my brother did people started to email him. I was blown away. I couldn’t believe that people had found his podcast and even took the time to contact him. I see first hand how providing information about cards can help influence people to get involved and grow their collection. There are many other sites that also promote this hobby and help keep the business of sports cards going and you should think about starting your own.
4) Watch Brian Gray buy cards
This might tie into #1, as it was at the NSCC where I saw this go down. Never the shy type, Leaf Owner Brian Gray will engage with collectors as he attempts to purchase sweet graded cards from them at the show. Gray’s booth was right across from the BGS (Beckett Grading Services) onsite grading booth at the NSCC in 2012. I saw collectors literally pick up their freshly graded box of cards and open them in front of Gray in hopes he would like to purchase some or all of the cards.
Gray kept it pretty simple when it came to buying cards, 20% off eBay price for cards that had completed sales data. For example, if someone at the NSCC had a BGS 9.5 2011 Bowman Bryce Harper autograph – there will be some that have sold on eBay recently – so Gray would look them up on the spot using eBay completed data.
For more rare cards that is where the fun started. 1/1 Trevor Bauer Autograph Bowman Superfractor – what’s that worth? Gray was ready to buy anything that was nice. I saw him purchase thousands of dollars in cards and collectors left the booth with a wad of cash and a story to tell.
5) ‘Flip’ Cards on Check Out My Cards (COMC)
I’ve sold about 50,000 cards in the last 12 months. But by only clicking buttons. I hardly ever send in my own cards to COMC, I just buy them on-site and re-sell them. The term they use is ‘flipping’.
Have I made money? Sure, maybe a few grand, but it’s not something that will change my tax bracket. More importantly it’s a lot of fun to try and get a good deal on a ‘Port Sale‘ and then try to scratch out a few bucks selling the cards for more. In the process of buying and re-selling so many cards I end up keeping a few nice cards that I ship to myself which helps my own collection grow.
Honorable mention: Flea Markets
I don’t have a card shop that is nearby, but I do find success finding sports cards occasionally at a local flea market by my house. It’s fun spending an hour going through some boxes of singles and it gets me out of the house and into the sunshine so that’s a win win.
Buying crappy graded cards on eBay & The Pit
I’ve decided to try and buy bulk lots of graded cards on The Pit and eBay to then send into COMC to see if I can make money. I’ve purchased a few hundred graded cards over the last couple months and am in the process of getting them all listed on COMC. Winning auctions on eBay is fun for me still after all these years. I’m trying to buy graded cards for less then $2 each so it can be tough to find a good deal.
Dealers Making Money – Collectors Happy
That’s all I really care about in this industry. That’s what keeps it going. The two go hand in hand if there is to be growth and sustainability in the sports card market. Dealers making money, but with un-happy collectors is not good as those collectors will eventually spend money on something else. Collectors happy but dealers losing money might seem okay – but if you can’t run a profitable business in this industry, we all loose out. When the two blend together and the collector and dealer are both happy is where the magic happens. I’ve seen it at the NSCC, I’ve seen it happen at successful card shops, I’ve seen people build good online businesses where collectors and dealers are both winning. One without the other and this whole industry could grind to a halt.