Recently, I was chatting with an old friend of mine who has way too many cards. Let’s just say the amount of cards he owns could full my house, which of course would cause a lot of consternation with my wife and mother-in-law. But, like many of us, he does not want to retail each card on a one by one basis but would rather move bulk. So he has spent a ton of time putting the cards into alphabetical order and now has hundreds of cards of guys like Kirby Puckett, who is a Hall of Famer and was remarkably popular back in the day.
And to further set this up, let’s assume any autograph, relic or short-printed insert card is not part of this lot. We’re talking mostly base cards with some easily accessible parallels and fairly common insert cards included. Most players in his boxes were active from the 1980s and up.
So, the question is… what are his best options for selling? I have my opinions on but we’d love to hear what you think.
There is always the option of bringing his player boxes and other items to a show, setting up a table and hoping collectors of those specific players who’d be willing to buy a 600-count box of their cards visit his table. The advantage is that there are no costs beyond the tables he’s already paying for and any sales would be a bonus. Of course, the major hindrance to this is the chance of finding collectors of a certain player at your average card show is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. The National? Maybe, but understand setting up there is a major expense. He could take several Cardinals and Royals player boxes (and maybe some Cubs) along and drive to Missouri for a show, but that’s not cheap either.
Another way of working on selling these cards in bulk is through a method which is becoming extremely popular and has no cost: Craigslist or another local classified ad platform. There are a lot of sports card ads on Craigslist every day and it’s obvious from talking with collectors that it is an active venue to buy and sell cards. Many people who use such outlets aren’t hardcore collectors. Some are flea market dealers looking for a deal they can flip. Others are collectors on a budget who don’t care what the cards are—or aren’t—worth. They just love buying a lot of cards at one time.
While most deals on local classified sites conclude without incident, there are always inherent dangers involved in meeting people you do not know. To ensure the cards are passed safely, one should meet in a public place and that way everyone feels comfortable. Who would want to hurt anyone over a $50 box of cards, I do not know, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
A similar option would be one of the many Facebook groups available for buying or selling cards. You’d be surprised at the market for just about anything among collectors who prefer to buy, sell and trade through them and avoid eBay. While most of them are perfectly fine and heavily moderated, there is always that chance of the bad buyer.
How about a hobby message board post? There are many different forums out there where one can post their cards for sale with minimum hassle. Again the best aspect of these boards is they are free to anyone with a computer. The major downside is that many times the collectors who populate the message boards are usually more advanced than the average collector and a lot featuring common or semi-common cards of a single player may not be of much interest. Sometimes though, a fellow collector will alert someone he knows who collects that player and a deal can be struck.
Of course, there is always eBay, which still has more eyeballs than any other method. Many users are player collectors who are always on the lookout for cards of that player and have them on a watch list. The major downside is the fees involved through eBay and its brother, Paypal. The good news is it’s generally free to list these days. Only if your item sells do you incur those costs.
He could also go the time saving route via a site such as COMC. Just put the cards in penny sleeves and ship them off. Once loaded into the system, you’ll pay a quarter per card and then set your own prices. You’ll have to check the existing inventory, though, to make sure the competition and prices will make it worthwhile. You don’t want to try to sell a card for 50 cents when there are 50 others just like it priced at or below that figure. If your stock is primarily vintage or very new, COMC can be a very efficient way to sell cards without a lot of effort on your part. However, you can also offer a ‘port sale’ where your entire portfolio of cards is listed for one bulk price.
So what other options have you had success with when selling large lots? It’s a dilemma a lot of collectors (and dealers) face but the good news is there are more options than there used to be.
Of course, the last option would simply be to quit trying to make anything and simply donate them in exchange for a possible tax write-off. It all depends on how quickly you need—or want—to see your floor again.