The overproduced sports cards of the ’80s and ’90s can still be profitable..if you can buy in the millions, re-package and sell them in massive quantities.
The ad in SCD seemed friendly enough. "Clean out that storage shed of commons and save on rent! Empty out that garage and move that car back in! Vacate your spare bedroom of excess sports cards and make your wife happy!"
Good for a chuckle to anyone who’s had more cards that necessary at one time or another. But if you call this bulk buyer, expect them to be very guarded about what they do with the 100 million commons they buy each year.
It seems the world of repackaging bulk commons is more than a little competitive and the boys at CardsOne would rather not say where the cards they purchase each year actually wind up for fear of another buyer stealing their account. It’s safe to say, though, that dollar stores are one major outlet for the small number of wholesalers who are in this potentially lucrative but strange end of the hobby.
"We’ve been doing this for the last 20 years," said Stuart Etlinger, who is part of the Tennessee-based company. "We’re just large wholesalers."
Don’t bother calling at all if all you’ve got is few monster boxes, though. When CardsOne says they buy in bulk, they mean they only buy deals of 1/2 million cards or more. Anything less just isn’t worth the time. Their buy price is typically $10 to $20 per 5,000 cards. Do the math and if the company’s price is accurate, that translates into $1,000-2,000 for a 500,000 card transaction. "We buy closeouts and dealer inventory, some of it from people who used to be dealers," Etlinger said. "They know who we are."
CardsOne deals in junk wax cases and sets as well, but again only in very large quantities. The business is simply bulk and bulk alone. "We don’t care how many home runs Albert Pujols has hit or how hot David Wright is," Etlinger said. "In our business, it just doesn’t matter."
While the vast majority of the cards the bulk buyers purchase will be essentially worthless to most collectors, there will be cards which occasionally slip through which do have some value and that, apparently, is what keeps enough people buying the re-packaged card products to keep the bulk buyers in business.