In this week’s installment of Shop Talk, I’m going to talk about a ongoing and ever increasing back and forth with many of the customers that come through our door who are looking to sell their cards to us.
The most recent example is one from late this week. An older gentleman who is a repeat customer in our store came in with a stack of cards. Now this particular customer generally brings us the leftovers after he’s hit up the other shops in our area, so that’s always fun. This time, he brought a 300-count box of common Score football rookies over from the past two or three seasons. He also brought a handful of nine pocket pages with some really low end insert cards and some from subsets from the same products. It was nothing to get too excited about and cards that we don’t really have the ability to resell and make it worth our while.
He then, as a coup de grace, pulls out about ten other cards in top loaders from his pocket and fans them out across the counter. Apparently he opened a 2020 Select blaster and had some luck. Included in the stack was a Justin Herbert Bronze Concourse Die cut numbered out of 355. He told us that at one of the other shops in the area they quoted him a price of around $300 for the Herbert card.
So, we immediately grab our phones, go to eBay, type this particular card in the search bar, go to the left hand column and scroll down to where you can see the sold items and completed auctions on the site. We quickly saw that the most recent card from just a few days ago was sold for around $70. As you might imagine he wasn’t overly thrilled with that information and it almost seemed as if we were somehow trying to pull one over on him. For the record, that’s never the case in our shop. If anything, we always show a customer with questions exactly what the items are selling for on eBay because that is the most honest, fair and real-time value of a particular card. If you do a bit more investigation and attempt to remove any potential shill bidding from the equation, you will have a clear picture of the value of the card in question.
Another tactic I often use when someone has a so-called “other buyer” offering a ridiculous amount for a card is to say- in all sincerity- “If you have that offer on the table, by all means, go call that person right now and take it!”
We have countless people coming in the shop asking us to basically give them quotes or appraise their collections. It’s perfectly OK and actually sometimes one of the more exciting and fun things I get to do on a regular basis. At the same time, though, you wouldn’t even have to leave your house to do the very same thing. It’s just a matter of knowing what cards you have, how to look them up and determining fair market value.
Now your next question may be how do we determine what we pay for cards or collections that walk into our shop. That would be a two-part answer.
First off, if we are buying to resell, we will pay about 20% below those comps for obvious reasons. We’re not going to take in a card to flip it at the same price for which we just bought it. It’s Business 101. Simple common sense. Some shops may not pay that much. Maybe their overhead is higher. Maybe they just prefer a higher profit margin.
There are a few other factors that most customers don’t take into account. How much demand we believe there may be for a particular item also plays into a shop or dealer’s equation when they determine what they’re willing to offer. No one likes to see money tied up in inventory that may take awhile to sell. Another is that if we list it online, we pay for shipping and we also pay eBay and PayPal fees. You also have to consider the amount of time it takes to list, field questions and eventually ship the card. But in all honesty, that’s a conversation that people don’t understand sometimes until we take the time to lay it out and explain it to them.
When we do explain that comp scenario, sometimes they still feel we should pay something along the lines of what the same card may be selling for online. It’s often frustrating because some of those sellers have cards we’d like to have the chance to purchase but can’t justify paying what they’re asking. If you want to get a price that might be close or equal to what you’re seeing online, our advice is to do the work yourself. If you’re selling to a local shop or dealer at a show, it’s a faster, simpler process that’s often done with cash and you can often sell larger quantities in one fell swoop. Just keep in mind there needs to be a little bit of meat on the bone for the person to whom you’re trying to sell.
Now if I’m buying a card with the intent of keeping it for my personal collection, I will often pay at full comp price. That’s only fair. All of our customers are very aware that there are times where I buy for myself and I will pay fair market value to add something to my PC.
Not every card purchase from our side of the counter involves eBay comps and things that nature. Sometimes we just freestyle and come up with a deal or occasionally a customer has a number in mind and it’s suitable and we accept it. They’re also times on the opposite of the spectrum where customers come in with a price in mind and it’s not acceptable to us so we all agree to move on and that’s perfectly fine, too. The demand for cards is strong, though, so many shops and dealers are willing to pay fairly strong prices these days.
I’m sure that seasoned veterans of the hobby understand this process but many casual collectors and/or new collectors may not, so I hope this helps in some way. And please, by all means, stop in the shop and sell us your cards!
Have a great week. I’ll be sure to check back in soon.