Baseball cards a dying business? Not if you know some of the numbers being done by just one major online dealer.
Burbank Sports Cards reports that it is now selling about 657,000 cards per year or 1,800 per day. Not all of those buyers are leaving feedback, but according to Marketplace Pulse, Burbank now ranks tenth among all eBay sellers in total feedback ratings. The company is also among the 50 largest eBay sellers of any kind.
“While I knew we had the strongest feedbacks in our category I wasn’t aware of where we ranked in the entire eBay universe which is so vast,” owner Rob Veres told Sports Collectors Daily. “Being ranked tenth among all sellers makes me proud and we’ll be aggressively looking to climb higher and push that message out. I also believe it says positive things for the sports card category in general that we have representation among eBay’s largest volume sellers. Our hobby gets a lot of negative press so being able to do the volume there while maintaining a 99.9% customer satisfaction rating speaks to the fact that the hobby is alive and well.”
Veres says even though much of the focus in today’s hobby is on big-ticket sales of expensive items, investing or breaking open boxes to flip hits on eBay, pure collecting is still the driving force. While more purchases are made online rather than at shows or shops these days, collectors still have a ravenous appetite for what they want to own.
Over the last year, Burbank has made a major push to put much of its massive inventory for sale online. The company now has over 42 million cards in its southern California facility, with over two million of those listed in its eBay store.
“Going forward we’ve made decisions that we’re all in with the singles market. We liquidated 98% of our unopened boxes, sets, cases to Baseball Card Exchange in order to reset our business to focus on what we believe is our core competence and it’s done wonders for sales the past few months,” Veres stated. “Very few full-time retailers in this category look at the singles card market as their core business and that’s a strength for us. We’ve re-shelved our warehouse to accommodate 15 million more cards and we look forward to big things.”
With huge inventory and high volume comes expenses that major sellers sometimes have to pass on, but Veres takes pride in earning repeat business from collectors who have confidence he’ll have what they are looking for.
“We’ve made huge strides in efficiency over the past few years as well as making some great young hires. While we’ve been able to maintain the same staff size for shipping this first quarter of 2016 we have made some key role changes among key personnel to ensure faster processing. Most packages ship within 24 hours. The bottleneck, as you can imagine, is Monday morning after having Sunday off and seeing orders for 4,000 cards awaiting us so we really crack the whip on Mondays.”
Veres says Burbank now has the capability to load 25,000 cards to eBay per day and the card processing end of the business has resulted in several new employees being hired.
“We’re upgrading nearly every product from 1981 to present across all four sports and bulking up the quantities of each card. One of the big keys to folks choosing to shop with us is how many of each card we stock, and it’s very common for us to sell multiple copies of a card on the site.”
“The beauty of eBay is that every card is salable so it’s difficult to pick trends. The typical heavily collected baseball guys are always popular with us, like Griffey Jr, Thomas etc, and our sub-$5 raw vintage cards. Baseball is definitely number one, but we are also seeing a large upwards tick in non-sports as we continue to develop our inventory on the site. We now have over 100,000 unique non-sports cards in our eBay store and having those keyword searches for so many popular titles/characters really drives folks to our store.”
Burbank has a long history in the hobby and even though the business has changed greatly from its days as primarily a brick-and-mortar operation, it remains partly a family business. Veres’ 20-year-old son Ryan is now a full-time employee.
“My father Stephen is looking to slow down a bit and Ryan will be slowly stepping into his role which makes me very happy. The one piece of advice I gave him the other day was to look at what everyone else is doing in the business and do the exact opposite and do it with gusto. This is what’s served me well in the business as doing what’s difficult isn’t very popular in this category.”