by Shane Elsberry
Sports card collectors, both avid and casual, know how eBay changed the way cards and memorabilia are bought, sold, and collected. It remains the first stop for collectors looking to complete a base set, collect a particular team or player, or pick up that game used or auto item they have been trying to find. It also sets the market value for collectibles, both sports and otherwise.
Success breeds competition, and over the past few years, several upstart competitors, and one established giant, are mounting a challenge to eBay's supremacy. It never hurts to comparison shop, so here are a few of the other online stops to if you're looking for a card......or cards. As with any buying experience, the term “caveat emptor” certainly applies.
Over the past few years, eBay has evolved from an online yard sale with its auction format to a site far more closely resembling Amazon. Amazon has evolved from being a single source online retailer to welcome third party sellers and ramping up its offerings in certain departments, including sports cards. Of all eBay's competitors, Amazon clearly has the biggest selection, so finding a nice deal and a place to comparison shop is easy.
1) Like eBay, Amazon is clearly one of the most reputable and most visited sites on the Web. Buying with confidence would be the least of your worries here.
2) Amazon's customer service has always been one of its calling cards, so there's the added bonus of being treated as royally as you would with eBay's better sellers.
3) Like eBay, Amazon has worked very hard to develop their mobile platform, making it easy to search for items and buy them from anywhere, especially if you own one of Amazon's tablets, the Kindle Fire.
1) While the sports card offerings have exploded on Amazon over the past few years, most of these come via third party sellers, and though they are subject to Amazon's customer service standards, eBay's efforts in protecting buyers remain miles ahead of any competitors.
2) Searches for the items you want are a little more difficult than eBay, often leading to many unrelated items showing up on the first page.
3) Sports cards are not featured as prominently on Amazon, with evidence being in the department titles. You have to drill down several clicks to get to sports cards through Amazon's “Fan Shop”. Ebay makes it much easier to get to cards from the main page and the “Sports Card, Memorabilia, and Fan Shop” link.
Founded by a former eBay employee, Yardsellr harkens back to eBay's early days by capturing a “World's Largest Yard Sale” vibe. Their recent boom has come due to their social media integration and generous referral program.
1) Yardsellr is increasingly becoming a go to source for cards of all types.
2) I have noticed a huge jump in recent months in the number of high end vintage, graded, auto, and relic cards offered on Yardsellr with prices comparable to, or lower than, eBay
3) Their customer referral and word of mouth program (known as “Photons”; 100,000 Photons = $1 to spend on the site) can make certain items much cheaper than you could find them on eBay.
1) There seems to be some social media backlash on Yardsellr's customer service, and even their “Contact Us” info on the site doesn't list a phone number.
2) Buyer protection is practically non-existent, with a reliance on “self policing” among buyers and collectors.
3) Their current business model tends to be more seller friendly, with no fees of any kind for sellers but a 10% surcharge on all items purchased.
Listia's calling card is “Free”. Their model is based on a credit system, which you accrue through selling on the site, social media activity, and referrals. They are also tilted far more to the auction format as eBay used to be, although they also offer a “Get It Now” option.
1) Their selection is quite good, although lacking in relation to some of the other sites featured here.
2) If you're going against eBay, free is certainly a huge drawing card.
3) Their referral program and free credit opportunities are more generous than Yardsellr.
1) If you're only interested in collecting, Listia probably isn't the place for you. Active sellers are most likely the only ones who will get things free there.
2) As with Yardsellr, there is more of a “self policing” policy among buyers and sellers.
3) While you might be able to find great cards at a greatly reduced price, “Free” is something of a misnomer.
COMC.com (formerly Checkoutmycards.com)
You get nothing but sports cards here, making this site unique among any we've covered. That will soon change as the company makes strides toward handling all types of collectibles but for now, if you sell cards for the purpose of buying more (especially hobby boxes in this case) or if you're looking to make some extra money, COMC might turn out to be as profitable, or more in some cases, than eBay. COMC is growing--and fast.
1) Huge selection; practically impossible not to find something on your want/need list
2) Competitive pricing on hobby boxes if you sell there to collect.
3) The work in terms of listing your cards (snapping the pics, item descriptions, etc.) is done for you and you don’t have to box them up and ship them either. A huge time saver, making COMC very efficient for busy collectors/dealers.
1) Still doesn't match eBay's marketing muscle......no mobile app (at the moment), no widget to embed on other sites to drive traffic to your page, etc.
2) Pricing structure is much like eBay's.......fees involved both upfront and on the back end if you choose to “cash out” rather than let your money ride and buy cards or use the credit to buy boxes via its partner, Blowout Cards.
3) You’ll pay to list, regardless of whether your cards sell. With eBay’s current no-cost listing promotion, your expenses will be higher here.
Sports Buy has been around since 2001. Unlike eBay, they have no upfront listing fees....just final value fees if your item sells. Like eBay, they offer both auction-style and “Buy Now” items.
1) Selection is decent, although nowhere near eBay and now not even in the ballpark with the upstart Checkoutmycards.com.
2) Their seller protection is actually better than what eBay's has become
3) Their sister site, thepit.com, is a very good companion site using an “athlete stock exchange” type format.
1) Again, no mobile app presence, no social media presence, and several outdated or broken website links. Not good for an e-commerce site.
2) Their site interface LOOKS circa 2001. A little clunky and homemade looking. A revamp would be advisable.
3) I'm not sure that I know anyone personally across any Facebook trading group, forum, etc. who has bought or sold anything via this site, so caveat emptor is our word of the day.
Having a choice is always a good thing, and collectors certainly now have more choices to find cheap baseball cards than ever before. None of these sites are perfect, but competition is always good for the buyer.