PWCC Marketplace is calling its new venture “a pivot” after eBay shut down its ability to list there in August. The Oregon-based company officially unveiled a new monthly auction platform that will debut on Oct. 7 with an extended bidding feature. The first auction is slated to offer more than 44,000 cards.
The official announcement came Tuesday, but Oregon-based PWCC already had some information about the monthly auctions on its website’s FAQ page as the week began.
PWCC’s monthly auctions will begin on five consecutive days, beginning with baseball on Oct. 7; basketball on Oct. 8; football on Oct. 9; hockey, soccer and other sports on Oct. 10; and nonsports cards, like Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh on Oct. 11. All will run for 17 days. Baseball auctions will close on Oct. 24, with the other auctions ending on consecutive days through Oct. 28. A sixth date (Oct. 29) will be for any duplicate auctions.
The new wrinkle in the monthly auction will be extended bidding, where collectors who were outbid have a chance to take more shots at the lots they covet. That format has been used in the PWCC Premier Auctions that began in May, but this will be the first time it will be applied monthly.
In a wide-ranging interview, Jesse Craig, PWCC’s director of business development, laid out the details of the new auction platform, addressed the eBay situation and refuted charges of shill bidding.
To recap, PWCC had its listings restricted from eBay on Aug. 17, 2021, as the marketplace giant accused “individuals associated” with PWCC engaging in shill bidding but did not provide any specifics. PWCC has denied the allegations.
As of 3 p.m. EDT on Aug. 17, PWCC had more than 17,000 live auctions available for bidding. All were removed within a few hours.
PWCC has also been the subject of a class-action suit filed in an Oregon federal court on Sept. 17 by Gregory Latham, a New Orleans-based collector who is also an attorney.
Shill bidding is the practice of placing bids on an item to increase its selling price.
Craig said PWCC was blindsided by eBay’s accusations, noting that it “was pretty scary to get shut off.”
“The email they sent was a complete surprise,” Craig said. “We deny profusely the allegations, and it’s something we don’t allow, we don’t condone, and really doesn’t do us any good. … It would make no sense.
“We still to this day have received zero information, evidence, proof, regarding any of that. So, we’re left here to believe, to speculate, really, on … what their motives were.”
Craig said PWCC had been discussing leaving eBay and creating its own platform, but the company was forced into action sooner than expected after the restrictions were put in place.
“We had this built, and we had many discussions and many plans around when we were going to leave eBay,” Craig said. “It wasn’t going to be a forever platform for us. They just happened to sever that cord abruptly, so we were forced to build software immediately.
“As soon as the eBay news came, we had to make a pivot, and the first thing that we did was go to the fixed price marketplace.”
The fixed marketplace was launched within two weeks of the eBay restriction announcement, Craig said. About 51,000 cards were listed in early September. Another 12,000 have been added since.
That platform has done more than $3 million in sales, Craig said — about 20% to 30% shy of PWCC’s sales figures on eBay.
PWCC has remained in the news with its high-priced brokering deals of some of the hobby’s most valuable cards. That includes a PSA 9 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle and 2003-04 LeBron James Exquisite RPA, each of which they said sold for $5.2 million. PWCC also announced the sale of a 1/1 Patrick Mahomes rookie card. The $4.3 million final price set a record for the most valuable football card ever sold.
The new monthly auctions that begin this week will close nightly at 7 p.m. Pacific time. Anyone bidding before 7 is eligible to continue in extended bidding. If the item has just one bid, it closes. Lots with two or more bids move on to bidding overtime, in a sense. It’s a format used by numerous other sports memorabilia auction houses but PWCC’s will operate in short windows.
Extended bidding, Craig said gives a bidder “the ability to compete.”
“We have a window from 7 to 7:30,” Craig said. “At the end of that window, any items that didn’t get a bid, that item is going to close. And then at 7:30, the windows get shorter. Between 7:30 and 8, there are five-minute windows.”
That window shrinks to one minute at 8 p.m. Pacific time.
“At 8 o’clock we really speed it up, because a lot of these cards should start weeding off,” Craig said. “To even make it to 8 o’clock, you have to have seven bids placed in total on an item for it to qualify.”
At that point, Craig believes auctions should conclude between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m.
“We don’t want the auction to drag on forever, and that’s the problem with these extended bidding auctions,” he said. “(This format) is different, it’s a little bit unique. But we believe it’s the only way to close quantity.”
Craig believes the five nights of closing per month is easier for collectors to follow. On eBay, he said, PWCC typically had 15 to 17 closing nights.
“You want all of that sport to close in one night. That creates the excitement, that creates the atmosphere,” he said. “All the eyeballs on it in one night.”
Investors and collectors who want to participate in the monthly auctions have several payment options. They include credit cards for purchases of up to $10,000, ACH, wire, checks and cryptocurrency including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dogecoin, Ethereum, WBTC and Stablecoins.
The software for the monthly auction is “patent pending,” Craig said, adding that he believes it will be “revolutionary for the industry.” He also touted the security measures PWCC will have in place for its auctions. All potential bidders must provide a valid first and last name, physical address, email address and telephone number to become a member. PWCC also will require that members verify their email address and telephone number.
“Selling 30,000-plus cards a month on eBay is not an easy platform to replicate, to replace. So we really had to put our heads together and figure out what we wanted to build, how we wanted to build it, and how we were going to change it and make it different.
“We don’t recreate eBay by any means.”
Security will be provided by Tech Heads Inc., an Oregon-based cyber security risk management company. Another company, Triaxiom Security, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, will generate a monthly audit report that will be posted on the PWCC website.
“(People) can verify that we are in fact doing what we say we’re doing,” Craig said. “So it’s not just words. I think that’s a big deal.”
Craig concedes the last six weeks have been hectic for PWCC, but added that its initial bewilderment “turned into excitement” and called the monthly auction format “the big wild card.”
“We realized that we’ve been beating our head against the wall for the last however many years trying to get anywhere with eBay and get things changed and clean up their platform,” Craig said. “But now we get to do it all on our own.”