The growth of social media has greatly expanded the outlets for buying, selling and trading cards over the last dozen years or so. The reaches of Facebook and Instagram are wide, but an often overlooked platform is Twitter.
We last gave tips for using the platform more than 10 years ago. Now, there’s a sales thread on Twitter for just about any card collector. On Wednesdays, there’s a large one for vintage baseball. On Thursdays, there’s another for card art. Fridays are for vintage football.
Throughout the week, collectors can find Buy/Sell/Trade (B/S/T) threads from accounts like Midwest Box Breaks, I(heart)CollectingCards, stokesboyscards, Hive Cards, Breakout Cards, The Hobby 24/7, and Tony Snider, each offering something a little bit different. Anson Whaley’s Prewarcards offers lower cost cards from decades ago on a regular basis, usually on Sunday nights.
The user behind the handle LA Card Dude creates three to four daily specialty threads. There’s one for modern “shiny” cards. A few hours later, LA Card Dude posts threads for Non-Sport and Wrestling cards. His threads typically get between 30 and 200 posts from collectors looking to sell. He was never much of a seller, more of a collector, but he noticed that Twitter had a visibility issue.
“Without having a lot of followers it’s very hard to get eyes on your tweets,” LA Card Dude told us. “I saw this as a problem, and thought if I could get enough followers, I can create a community where people could get more visibility on their tweets, and in turn, meet more collectors and make more deals.”
It’s gotten popular enough that he posts a schedule, with each thread focused on a different, fairly narrow collecting interest.
Building a Brand
Creating a sales thread serves multiple purposes. For a creator, it does the following:
- Builds a brand
- Generates more followers
- Monetizes a thread with sponsorships
- Builds a bigger audience for other ventures
- Provides a bigger audience to sell one’s own cards
It’s within the threads, though, where the magic happens. A successful thread typically has more than 50 posts and will see a few sales or trades. People posting can leave comments and gain a few followers. For others, it’s an extension of the passion they have for the hobby.
“I love the idea of creating a brand on Twitter, but I’m more about creating that brand to grow and help the community,” says LA Card Dude, who prefers to go by his Twitter handle. “My intentions were never to monetize off of this, and to date I haven’t profited $1, and that’s totally fine. If one day an opportunity comes along that doesn’t affect our community in a negative way I may consider it.”
A thread’s success can ultimately be measured by how many people return.
Buying on Twitter
The experience of buying on Twitter has its benefits. Haggling is generally encouraged, and trading is looked upon favorably. Buyers can request additional pictures and those requests are usually fulfilled. Prices are usually lower on Twitter because sellers don’t have to account for eBay fees.
Threads also instruct collectors about the current hobby landscape. Right now, the posts are full of numbered parallels, the latest Topps Update release, and so many Zion Williamses – so, so many.
Twitter sales threads are like window shopping in real-time. They allow buyers to scroll through hundreds of cards in a few minutes. As more sellers post in each thread, buyers can refresh their screens to check updates. The temptation to buy something, or make an offer, can be enticing.
The account Cards With A Story created a weekly Wednesday vintage baseball sales thread that has morphed into a hobby event. Sellers often tweet about the cards they want to sell hours before.
“I’ve seen hundreds of sales threads, but I was never seeing any vintage ones as a vintage collector,” says Dylan Brennan, creator of Cards With A Story. “I figured I could change that and start one myself since I knew such a large portion of my followers were vintage collectors.”
Then at 7 PM EST, the action begins. Wednesdays with Cards With A Story has become a must for a lot of vintage buyers and sellers who use Twitter. The most recent thread had nearly 400 replies. The cards range in price from $2 to a few thousand. When an expensive card is listed, admirers compliment or talk about owning the card one day.
“What’s surprised me the most is the amount of people that not only enjoy the thread, but look forward to it every single week,” Brennan said. “I have people tweeting me previews every Tuesday night and Wednesday morning/afternoon leading up to the thread. That stuff builds up hype all day. There was a couple month span where every thread was resulting in $20,000+ in sales each night.”
Transaction payments are typically made via Paypal or Venmo. Sellers will usually ship lower cost single cards via a regular “PWE” (plain white envelope) but can request a mail upgrade to “BMWT” (bubble mailer with tracking).
Sellers also find the process beneficial. They can list their cards at more competitive prices because there is no worry about the 13% eBay fee or costs associated with other platforms.
LA Card Dude has a thread titled, ‘We Hate eBay Fees For Sale Thread.’ The thread encourages sellers to include links to their eBay stores so that buyers can purchase the same cards below the prices they’ve posted there.
When a deal is complete, getting feedback from community members is unique. Happy buyers will often post pictures of the cards they bought with a shoutout to the seller. This builds confidence in the community and acts as a vouch for the seller.
All this has led to some selling, some trading, and a good deal of community building. Make no mistake, card sellers have found a nice marketplace on Twitter. But it’s the relationships that users say keeps them coming back.
Building a Community
When the account JROD Cards posted that he was holding a sale to pay for his wife’s cancer treatments, the community mobilized. Others started selling their inventory to help out. Auctions were created, with all proceeds going to help the family.
“I see his tweet about him looking to sell his cards off to come up with some money for cancer meds, and that just crushed me,” Brennan said. “No one should ever have to struggle to pay for such important medication. I thought that instead of him selling his cards off, we as a community could help him and make it to where he can have his cards and the meds needed.”
Brennan retweeted JROD’s post asking his followers if there was anything they could do collectively. The community answered with a resounding yes.
People donated cards to JROD so he could sell them. In one instance, a single Eloy Jimenez rookie card sold 24 times. Each buyer “donated” it back to be purchased again to increase the donation amount.
Within two weeks, JROD thanked nearly 250 people who either participated in raffles and sales or donated items and money. The creator of Hive Cards helped raise more than $1,000. All the while, JROD was sending cards to others, called a RAK (random act of kindness).
“So many are hurting in this current economy,” JROD says. “I did not want to add to their struggles. That said, those who follow me, and are close, know about my situation with my wife and her battle. When I posted all we were dealing with over the past week I was really just using the platform as a way to vent.
“I expected to get a reaction as so many are such great people. I NEVER expected the outpouring that came.”
JROD’s experience on Twitter confirmed his belief that people are good. The money raised has given his family some room to breathe. Still, changes in his health insurance caused out-of-pocket expenses to increase by 700%.
“Not to be too sappy, but it is a feel-good story of a community being just that – a community,” JROD says. “Amazing that all of this from a community forged online, based on pictures of people on cardboard.”
On Twitter, the card-collecting experience is in constant motion. I’ve learned a few things since immersing myself in it. These are the things I can do with my collection:
- Create friendships
- Help others
- Make money
- Move commons
- Build my collection
- Bond with my kids
- Learn about sports history
There are more things to add to the list. While other social media apps provide the same benefits, Twitter has proven to be a winning platform for card collectors. But, as always, there are drawbacks.
As with anything, there are cons to the sales threads.
Scams can happen, but not as frequently as one might expect on an open social media platform. Both Brennan and LA Card Dude have experienced very little of it in their threads.
“The thing that surprises me the most is how few scams or bad deals go down in my threads,” LA Card Dude said. “There are hundreds of comments and many deals done every day on my threads. I’ve only been contacted twice with issues – and they were regarding very low price cards.”
Then there’s the matter of payment. On PayPal, some sellers prefer to use the Friends & Family option, so PayPal doesn’t take its 3% cut. Others would prefer using the Goods & Services choice to file a claim if something goes wrong.
It may not matter much for a $10 card, but sellers have been known to want to maximize their profit – even when selling hundreds of dollars of product.
Sometimes an organizer will promote each post by retweeting an item for sale. If they overlook someone’s post or the retweet isn’t fast enough, an organizer might get flooded with angry DMs (direct messages).
Within the community, the talk revolves around cards. Twitter can be polarizing; it is forefront in today’s culture wars. But within its social construct and millions of voices, a card community can share what they love and make friends along the way. On Twitter, collectors whose political and social beliefs may be on opposite ends of the spectrum can talk, get along, and sell, buy or trade with each other. It’s the best of what social media can be.
“I think selling on Twitter is great,” Brennan says. “It’s a great platform and there’s a ton of collectors always looking to buy and sell. But I really wanted to create a thread that made people safe and comfortable buying and selling from each other. But most importantly to help grow an already great community.”