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  #1  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:01 PM
67 MEMORIES 67 MEMORIES is offline
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Default Becomming a dealer for full time income.

I have about had it with my current job.. 14 years and for the last 2 being treated like #*@^!! I am seriously considering going into the sport card and memorabilia business.. I would have to sacrifice some of my collection.. Some pre war , wrappers, non sport, autos, etc.. Any advice as to having your own web sight vs becomming and ebay store/dealer.. I have been on ebay for about 7 years and have excellent record and many hobby references as a buyer.. I also would have some cash to do some buying with..

I really appreciate any advice from some of you seasoned people.. Thanks for your time..
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  #2  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:05 PM
Cardboard Junkie Cardboard Junkie is offline
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I suggest you forget the idea of making it a business.
I don't think the economy has hit bottom yet.
There is a very real possibility that the economy may never recover.
Plan for the worst, but hope for the best. jmo dave
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  #3  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:08 PM
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glynparson glynparson is offline
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Default As someone that was a fulltime dealer for 20+ years

All I can say is don't do it. if you do you may need to sacrifice all not some of your collection as everything should be for sale if you are doing this for a living and dont have a Levi sized inventory to start with. Be careful of putting yourself into any position where you have to sell things. Honestly just keep it as a side job maybe try to find a job in the hobby with a grading company or established auction house.
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  #4  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:11 PM
bbcard1 bbcard1 is offline
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Someone once said that owning a baseball card shop is like being married to a nymphomanic....it's fun for about the first two weeks.
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  #5  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:18 PM
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I would keep your job, and just try to expand your ebay business. If your business got to a point where it's completely booming with loads of income, then I would quit your day job. It might also be smart to do consignments as well as buying/selling your own inventory.
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  #6  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbcard1 View Post
Someone once said that owning a baseball card shop is like being married to a nymphomanic....it's fun for about the first two weeks.

Lololol
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  #7  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:24 PM
vintagetoppsguy vintagetoppsguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardboard Junkie View Post
I suggest you forget the idea of making it a business.
I don't think the economy has hit bottom yet.
There is a very real possibility that the economy may never recover.
Plan for the worst, but hope for the best. jmo dave
I agree with this. It might be a good way to supplement income if you wanted to work part time or for less money, but no way I would ever think about it as my only source of income.
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  #8  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:35 PM
Boccabella Boccabella is offline
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I think it's a great time to start a business. The internet allows anyone to take a swing without having huge backing or a massive advertising budget, without being dependent on local clientele. Your business can literally be worldwide and run out of your home.

There are thousands of people who want to collect and have $ but don't know how or where to start. Find them and win them over.

BUT...you must be totally committed to being very aggressive with online promotion and advertising, social media participation and also be willing to work long hours at home, seven days a week sometimes.

It can be done. There are a lot of players in the industry who weren't here 10 years ago or even five years ago. When you do something you love, you tend to work harder.

However, you do need to be prepared. Acquire inventory. Have a sense of how to build a business. Find someone, maybe a local community college educator, who also has a reasonably priced tax business and knows how to find deductions for you and can guide you through the process of setting things up.

Communication is ultra important. You do need to know how to spell 'website'. Not being sarcastic...but if you can't communicate effectively online today, you need to find someone to help you do that.
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  #9  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:37 PM
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My father quit his job as an attorney in the late 70s to focus on gold coins and Civil war money and other collections. He said he loved his hobby but ultimately hated the business. I could see the stress build as he traded one set of problems (not liking the law practice) for another (new set of late hours to meet with clients, selling stock he did not want to yet to pay tuition or other bills).

I would take the "dipping your toe" approach, so that your "large" fortune does not turn into a "small" one.

Good luck!
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  #10  
Old 07-03-2012, 12:39 PM
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Everybody thinks buying and selling in their hobby of choice would be a great business plan, until they actually realize what goes into it.

I would sit down with an accountant and go over all the various expenses. Overhead, Tax situation, Health Insurance, Web Site costs, Merchant costs, Ebay and Paypal costs, Inventory costs, Paperwork you need to keep to keep track of everything concerning your business, collectors wondering why you can't pay 90% of retail for items that will sit in your store for 5+ years.

I have a small hobby business compared to most, and every year about tax time I have an epiphany about how much easier it was to put up with my overbearing, overworking bosses in the real world, where all I had to do was punch a clock and payroll would do all my taxes for me when I got paid on Thursday of every week.

Also, unless you have an insanely high end collection already, you can forget about keeping much for yourself. You'll generally find easily sellable inventory is not easily stumbled across in the real world, the best stuff will sell the quickest and you'll probably have to fall back on your collection at one point or another so you can pay the bills.
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  #11  
Old 07-03-2012, 01:33 PM
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I agree with the "take is slow" approach and start by selling a few items on ebay then if you like it build upon that business. I starting selling my few dupes on ebay 5 years ago and each year built up my sales by looking for deals or by buying lots that had cards I wanted in them. I now have a small ebay store and have done very well on ebay, I have learned a ton and added all the profits to my collection. A few things I have learned-

***Having sufficient capital is so important, by using my own sales numbers I would need $200,000 in inventory and $50,000 in cash to make around $3,000 a month in profit and still grow the business.

***The good items sell fast and you are left with a growing inventory of items that will sit there unless you are willing to take a loss/no gain to move them, understanding turning your inventory is huge. When to sell at a loss and when to hold or discount. If your inventory turns stale you are doomed, a store needs fresh inventory to grow and expand, otherwise your store turns into the overpriced BIN museums you see on ebay.

***It is a detriment to your business to continue to collect. It brings the personal side into your decisions when you need to be able to base them solely on what will make you money. This is the biggest thing keeping me from greatly increasing my ballcard side business. Just this year, I had scouted a few lots in REA that I felt I could turn for a nice profit but there was also a single card I have been hunting for my collection for a long time I really wanted, well the collection won and I purchased the single card. Hard to buy cards you have no interest in them but to turn a profit vs buying a card you really want.

***It helps a lot of have an area you are an expert in as it will let you know when a card is a good deal to buy or not. I am a Clemente collector so when I started selling it was my dupes from upgrading so I knew how much I could expect to sell them for. Also by knowing the market it helped me on my purchases as I knew this little niche and would be alert for deals on ebay and AH for cards to resale and I could place low priced snipes and sometimes get lucky on them.

Good luck!

Last edited by smtjoy; 07-03-2012 at 01:34 PM.
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  #12  
Old 07-03-2012, 01:41 PM
steve B steve B is offline
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Yep, what everyone else has said.

You'll need inventory, and unless you specialize that means laying out a LOT of money.
Or
You do quick turnover on Ebay for a small profit each time. And you still have to buy more stuff to resell. Even decent sized lots of T206s on Ebay seem to go for about what they'd be individually.

Any collectibles business can be a tough one. People complain about not getting anywhere near retail for a collection, without considering the time to list the things for sale, or if you're doing shows, merely putting the stuff into new holders. While it's ok for me to have my cards in old yellowed toploaders, slightly cracked cardsavers and a variety of other holders that's not what people expect or usually accept from a dealer.

Sit down one night and simply reholder and price 50-100 cards. And track the time.


If you still want to do it full time, go for it. the advice at that point?
1)Find someone to do the stuff you're not good at. For me that would be the paperwork.
2) Decide what your "angle" will be, and stay with it long enough to know if it will work.
3)Change if it won't work.
4)You can make money with anything if you buy it right
5) You don't always need to be an expert, but you do have to be a good guesser.
6) Offload your mistakes and move on. Nobody gets it right every time. As long as you learn from it the mistake was probably ok.

Steve B
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  #13  
Old 07-03-2012, 02:00 PM
SetBuilder SetBuilder is offline
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Scott, Steve,

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being very inefficient and 10 being perfectly efficient, how would you rate the card market in general?

Economic theory would suggest there are more profits to be made in an inefficient market, than in a perfect one.

I happen to think, based on my observations, that the pre-war sports card market is about a 4 or less on this scale. The price fluctuations are pretty wide. Enough to realize a healthy profit if you're going from wholesale (auctions, lots, private collections) to retail.

The only downside is the time you have to wait before someone meets your price point.

You can't catch any fish if you're not fishing.

Last edited by SetBuilder; 07-03-2012 at 02:01 PM.
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  #14  
Old 07-03-2012, 02:04 PM
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ullmandds ullmandds is offline
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manny...I understand your point here...but...it seems to me that larger lots of desirable items in major auctions seem to be selling at very high levels these days...near retail prices imo! 5 years ago it seemed easy to buy a large lot in a major auction for a discount reflective of economies of scale...and then sell the cards individually for a tidy profit...but I believe those days are gone?!

Sure...there are bargains to be found...but these are few and far in between.

Personally I'd rather buy a hot dog cart and sell hot dogs to blue/white collar workers every day...this would be a much easier...more profitable business model than vintage bb cards.
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  #15  
Old 07-03-2012, 02:19 PM
barrysloate barrysloate is offline
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I wish you luck with it but I think it will be tough...as has been pointed out there aren't a lot of bargains out there and keeping a fresh inventory won't be easy. If you can accept parting with your collection it will improve your business prospects greatly. I say give it a try but no guarantee it will work out.
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  #16  
Old 07-03-2012, 02:23 PM
mrvster mrvster is offline
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Default bb1

LOL!!!that was funny!!LOL
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  #17  
Old 07-03-2012, 02:55 PM
steve B steve B is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ullmandds View Post
Personally I'd rather buy a hot dog cart and sell hot dogs to blue/white collar workers every day...this would be a much easier...more profitable business model than vintage bb cards.
I used to get lunch at a sub shop where the owner basically did just that. He was a big time chef, he had photos of him and the Kennedys with a 20ft long cold cut "platter"

He quit the high end stuff because in his words "When lunch is $100 a plate people feel obliged to complain and send stuff back. Here I can make 500 people happy between 11 and 1 "


As far as the card market goes, It would depend on the item. Certain stuff will do well NOW, and some won't. Unless your thing will be dealing in the very high end only it's a better time to buy. The upper mid range stuff will be weak for a while, and when it comes back it'll be great. (Assuming the popularity holds) The cheap stuff could represent a bit of a bargain, but will always be inexpensive.
If I had the capital, I'd be buying really nice condition cards of better players, stuff in the 200-1000 range. Maybe more for the bigger names. And I'd be planning on holding it for say 5 years. After that, I'd either have a nice collection or a nice inventory.

Predicting what's going to be big is nearly impossible. Over 30 years we've seen pretty much everything have its day. Inserts, variations, Ecards, Etopps......Only a few things have stayed fairly stable.

The efficiency of big price fluctuations cuts both ways.

Steve B
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  #18  
Old 07-03-2012, 03:14 PM
HaloFan HaloFan is offline
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I've had a table for a few shows hosted by my local card shop and to give you an idea of how unpredictable selling can be, with roughly $500+ in inventory, I've made as much as $77 and as low as $1.40 in one day.

There is no way I'd even think about doing a B&M store with as well as I'm doing. I do it for fun and the experience. I enjoy meeting other collectors and dealers. Having a shop would be too advanced at where I am. But like others have said, start small and see where it goes. Carl Karcher started with a hot dog cart. If he had started into restaurants from the beginning we may have never heard of Carl's Jr. Hamburgers today.

As a part time dealer, I'd only buy things for sale that I would be okay in keeping. I've sold quite a few junk era cards at ten cents a piece but would not go out looking for more. As you can see, I'm not that serious. If you have a B&M, you'd have to hit more homeruns early and often to survive and that will make things tough. Good luck with whatever you choose.

Craig H
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  #19  
Old 07-03-2012, 03:27 PM
RobertGT RobertGT is offline
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The key question you have to ask yourself is this: Can you buy inventory THAT WILL SELL FOR A HIGHER PRICE on a consistent basis, and can you obtain it at a price point that would make this venture sustainable over time?

If you have a large network of contacts, ability to purchase inventory at wholesale prices through various outlets, or can find inexpensive collections in your vicinity then I say go for it. Take a shot at something you love.

If you have to resort to buying material on eBay or through online auction houses, then this idea is dead on arrival. You will wind up selling your collection to put food on the table.

Also, I agree with the earlier poster that spelling errors such as "becomming" and "web sight" do not help your cause. Professionalism goes a long way with buyers. While it's not always true, many times TYPO=SCAMMER in the world of online commerce, and that's definitely not an image you want to impart.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
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  #20  
Old 07-03-2012, 03:27 PM
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In 38 months of being registered on the board you have made a total of 1 post. You will probably need to be a bit more extroverted to do the hobby as a full time business.
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  #21  
Old 07-03-2012, 03:40 PM
BlueDevil89 BlueDevil89 is offline
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Four words...KEEP YOUR DAY JOB!

Keep working to support yourself financially. If you plan on supporting yourself as a baseball card dealer, you'll need an inventory 10X your annual income expectations. Do you have that level of inventory or the cash to purchase that level of inventory? If not, don't bother. If you do have that kind of inventory / cash, go for it, and good luck to you!

A brick & mortar shop will sink you with rent. An online website will face fierce competition. Unless you've got the juice to be another 707, don't even think about it.

Keep working and use the money you save to buy baseball cards and build a bigger collection / inventory. Be a weekend online dealer through your eBay profile. Then, when you've made it to retirement, you'll have a fun hobby to keep you busy while adding a bit to your retirement income.

Don't bankrupt yourself thinking you can be a full-time sports cards dealer. The failure rate is 99%. Many people hate their jobs --- that's why they call it "work" instead of "happy fun time". You show up every day to pay your bills and support your habits (such as collecting old pieces of cardboard). Everyone wants to figure a way out of the grind, but being a baseball card middleman won't get you there. The market has too many sellers and not enough retail buyers.

Oh, and as your collection gets large enough, buy insurance for it.

Sorry to throw a wet blanket on your dream, but I'd hate to see someone lose everything on an unrealistic business plan. Figure out a way to be happy at your job, or get a new one...and keep spending that disposable income on vintage baseball cards.
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Last edited by BlueDevil89; 07-03-2012 at 05:10 PM.
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  #22  
Old 07-03-2012, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smtjoy View Post
...
***Having sufficient capital is so important, by using my own sales numbers I would need $200,000 in inventory and $50,000 in cash to make around $3,000 a month in profit and still grow the business.

***The good items sell fast and you are left with a growing inventory of items that will sit there unless you are willing to take a loss/no gain to move them, understanding turning your inventory is huge. When to sell at a loss and when to hold or discount. If your inventory turns stale you are doomed, a store needs fresh inventory to grow and expand, otherwise your store turns into the overpriced BIN museums you see on ebay.

***It is a detriment to your business to continue to collect. It brings the personal side into your decisions when you need to be able to base them solely on what will make you money. This is the biggest thing keeping me from greatly increasing my ballcard side business. Just this year, I had scouted a few lots in REA that I felt I could turn for a nice profit but there was also a single card I have been hunting for my collection for a long time I really wanted, well the collection won and I purchased the single card. Hard to buy cards you have no interest in them but to turn a profit vs buying a card you really want.

***It helps a lot of have an area you are an expert in as it will let you know when a card is a good deal to buy or not. I am a Clemente collector so when I started selling it was my dupes from upgrading so I knew how much I could expect to sell them for. Also by knowing the market it helped me on my purchases as I knew this little niche and would be alert for deals on ebay and AH for cards to resale and I could place low priced snipes and sometimes get lucky on them.

Good luck!
I think Scott gives some tremendously good advice on how to do business on ebay. I would emphasize that part on what happens when you sell enough and become an expert in a certain area. For example, if you collect a certain area, say 1914 Cracker Jacks, you'll know which commons are "short prints" and are in demand more. For those cards, you will learn you can sell at a higher price than other commons.

Regarding market efficiency, I would say it's around a 5. People aren't stupid as if you're selling a card for $50 and ten other sellers have it at the same grade for $25, you're not going to be selling your card. However, this thread was recently posted on the PSA forums: I know this has been rehashed before, but how does 707 get the prices he gets?!?!
. So there you go about how some sellers with BIN museums can still sell stuff, somehow.
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  #23  
Old 07-03-2012, 04:20 PM
keithsky keithsky is offline
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Seems alot of the dealers got out of business or started auction websites. That seems to be the big thing now. Maybe turn to that route if you can find good inventory to start and then find consignors. High end auction houses are out there so trying to compete with them will be tough to impossible but if you stuck to low end auctions there is alot more of us out there than high end. Do it part time to see how it goes and then decide on your job but i for sure would not quit your job right now the way the economy is and the income from your job you will need to get started. Brick and morter shops are almost obsolete because of the internet. Just my views
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  #24  
Old 07-03-2012, 04:43 PM
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Unfortunately you are about 10-15 years to late to the party. While cards are easy to sell, the most difficult part is to replace them with a steady inventory. While this was very possible circa 2000, via large auction lots and private collection purchases, it is virtually impossible to buy great deals at low prices in the age of the single graded card auctions, and to make matters worse, several of the "whales" are no longer buying.
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  #25  
Old 07-03-2012, 04:50 PM
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poorlydrawncat poorlydrawncat is offline
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Not sure how relevant this will be to your situation, but I figured I might as well make a post about my own experiences as an ebay seller. About 6 months ago my father asked me to sell his collection for him, in exchange for his '52 Topps Mantle. I had always coveted the Mantle (I used to collect when I was younger) so I agreed. In the next few months, I learned a lot about cards and ebay. After it was all over, I had developed a taste for collecting myself. I'm currently in college and have absolutely NO disposable income. Yet, since February I have been able to amass a collection worth around 8-10 thousand dollars, without spending a dime (that's a lie, I'm currently $200-$300 in the red, but I'm working on it). I should also mention that I only buy cards that I know I'll be able to make at least $20 on, and generally I look for a return of at least 30-50 percent. Here's what I've learned so far:

Learn how to search for items that are below market value. I personally keep about 20-30 tabs open on my computer of ebay searches that I constantly refresh throughout the day. Most of these are in non-traditional categories where uneducated sellers commonly list their cards. The easiest way to find these categories is to do a search for what you're interested in WITHOUT selecting a category. Ebay will show you all the categories where your search appears. I've been very surprised at what I've found using this method (I once found a lot of Mickey Mantle cards listed under the "Masonic and Fraternal Coffee Mug" category--GO FIGURE).

What you are searching for is just as important as where you are searching. Uneducated sellers don't use the same vernacular as card experts, so searching for T206 is unlikely to get you anywhere. Instead, search for terms like "tobacco card", "piedmont", "Old Mill" etc. Use the term "sports card" or "trading card" instead of "baseball card". There are many more useful search terms that you'll discover along the way. Also, learn how to use shortcuts to consolidate your searches (using commas, parentheses, minus signs, etc.). I usually max out the search bars character limit for each category.

The best deals, however, will always be BINs, regardless of what category the item is posted in. This requires CONSTANT refreshing of your searches and a lot of patience, but it pays off big time. You can easily make 500-700 dollars off of a single card.

If you can learn how to accurately grade cards through pictures, you can find raw cards and then flip them once they've been graded. This one is probably the most dangerous method, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. First, look for auctions that accept 14-day returns, in case the card comes back lower than you were hoping (usually PSA's turnaround fits within this time-frame for high-end cards). Also, if the card comes back altered in any way I have never had trouble getting refund from the seller once I provide the PSA slip.

Finally, learn as much as possible about a wide variety of cards. I recently picked up a complete set of first edition Pokemon cards for $500 (a quick BIN purchase) that I flipped for $1200 within 48 hours of receiving the package. Deals like this are few and far between, so having a broad knowledge base helps you find them wherever and whenever they pop up.

Anyway, I hope this helps in some way. If not, I'm sure there's someone else out there like me who's looking to build a nice collection on a nonexistent budget.

EDIT: Forgot to mention a few things. Keep an eye out for sellers who don't crop their scans. In other words, look for auctions with small pictures or large pictures with lots of empty white space. These are almost guaranteed to flip for higher when you upload quality scans of the item. Lots are always a good bet too, but as it has already been said before, a lot of times lots will go for the exact sum of what the cards would be expected to go for individually. Look for lot listings that lack a lot of common keywords (such as lots titled: BOX OF CARDBOARD SQUARES :P).

Last edited by poorlydrawncat; 07-03-2012 at 05:20 PM.
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  #26  
Old 07-03-2012, 05:18 PM
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Tsaiko Tsaiko is offline
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Try the nymphomaniac for two weeks, then see if you still feel the same way about opening a sport card and memorabilia business.
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  #27  
Old 07-03-2012, 08:23 PM
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Default Becomming a dealer for full time income.

There's an easy to become a millionaire in the card business-start out a billionaire.
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  #28  
Old 07-03-2012, 08:24 PM
Jlighter Jlighter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leon View Post
In 38 months of being registered on the board you have made a total of 1 post. You will probably need to be a bit more extroverted to do the hobby as a full time business.
Boom, and there goes the dynamite!!!
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  #29  
Old 07-03-2012, 08:29 PM
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If It was 1975 I would say yes. But 2012 NO! NO!!! NO!!!!

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Old 07-03-2012, 08:42 PM
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I feel like you would have needed to purchase your entire inventory today in 1980 in order to make substantial profit on it. Or you can set up at shows, put ridiculous price stickers on your cards and show up every month with the same cards still on display. Sounds kinda dumb but every time I go to a card show I see the same guys with the same stuff telling me they aren't collectors, they're interested in money. Go figure. The guys who are interested in making money don't ever make any and the guys who are interested in collecting keep growing their collections buying from someone else.

Last edited by packs; 07-03-2012 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 07-04-2012, 04:57 AM
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After further thought: keep your day job no matter how much you dislike it, start a baseball card business that you can develop at night and on the weekends. Only try it fulltime after you've established you can make a living at it. My guess is you will make some money but not nearly enough to support a family. It's much tougher today than when I got in in the early 80's.
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Old 07-04-2012, 07:12 AM
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For all of the reasons stated in prior posts, I'm loathe to see how one can actually make a living as a new entry into the market. I've been setting up at shows for 8 or 9 years and I recognized right off the bat that having to actually do it for a living would be exceedingly difficult and would totally suck all pleasure from the hobby. Once an avocation becomes a vocation, it's a totally different animal.
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:25 AM
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Not sure we have nearly enough info from 67 Memories upon which to offer a meaningful opinion. Regardless, I do not agree with most of what has been written. Making a living selling cards is pretty simple if you have any sense of business, a solid knowledge of the type of stuff you are selling and most importantly enough capital to adequately fund the endeavor. I don't think we need another auction house but another dealer? Why not?

It has been no more difficult to make money selling cards in 2012 than it was in 2000. At the height of the market cards sold more quickly and everything was consistently selling for more money, in general, but dealers were paying more. This is not just the card market but any market that is in a boom. So things have slowed down a bit, in some regards, in 2012. You have to adjust your buy price. The demand for cards is still there and very healthy. Some stuff has been more impacted by the economy than others. I think it really depends on the era, sport and grade of the material you are selling that will determine if one can make a buck.

One thing which has changed in recent times is gaining access to private collections. If you are not a large auction house, getting those collections has become difficult absent a large internet presence. There is still plenty of money in buying large lots out of those auction houses and breaking them.
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:33 AM
67 MEMORIES 67 MEMORIES is offline
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Default Thanks for all of the advice..

I will read all of these a couple times over.. It sounds like maybe part time and a new job would be the best going forward.. I do love collecting and would not ever want it to become something negative in any way..
Lastly has anyone ever heard of buyng an existing business with inventory, either Ebay or not.. There has to be some people looking to get out or wanting to retire. Again.. Thanks for your time
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:46 AM
David W David W is online now
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I don't know where you live, but in the midwest, in order to make $1000 per week, I would estimate you would need to do $3000-$4000 per week in ebay sales on average to achieve that standard of living.

If you can do that right off the bat, and sustain it, go for it, if not start ebay sales on a part time basis and build up to it.

In some areas of the country $1000 per week may not be enough to live a comfortable lifestyle.
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:11 AM
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I wish you luck if you decide to go down that road, but you'll need to get a lot of contacts and inventory before starting the business. I think one of the draws of cards are the fact that they're an excape from our daily lives and not the complete focus of every waking minute.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:26 PM
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My opinion is to start small and see how it goes. If it builds into a full time business that's great, it it builds into a supplemental income that's good too.

From a practical point, starting off small and slowly is to see how things work-- what does, what doesn't--, getting think kinks out of the system, discovering your errors and misconceptions on the small scale. And, as I said, if that eventually leads to something bigger, great.

One thing is if you star with the pre-conception that you will only sell, say, baseball memorabilia, that might be an off busines choice from the start. There may be other areas (to sell instead of or in addition to sports) than sports memorabilia. Be wary of sentimental blinders. Duly note, I'm not saying sports memorabilia is a bad place to sell, or that it can be good to sell items in an area you are familiar with.

Last edited by drc; 07-04-2012 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:46 PM
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I think you would be better off buying and selling modern cards if you're trying to make a living. It would take buying hobby cases and pulling the one per case cut auto or whatever other limited insert the product carries. There's more immediate money in the modern card market and you can still pull from packs. It would be hard to score enough deals on vintage cards to be able to resell at large profits.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:48 PM
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And to answer the question, I know of someone who bought out a retiring dealer's business of game used memorabilia. I don't know how it worked out, but know the guy ended up with a ton of stuff.

I think vintage is a fine area to deal in. I think it's more stable over a long period of time. Modern would offhand scare me as an investment/business area.

But, as I said, you can deal in multiple areas, including non-sport.

Last edited by drc; 07-04-2012 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 07-04-2012, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barrysloate View Post
After further thought: keep your day job no matter how much you dislike it, start a baseball card business that you can develop at night and on the weekends. Only try it fulltime after you've established you can make a living at it. My guess is you will make some money but not nearly enough to support a family. It's much tougher today than when I got in in the early 80's.
I very much agree! IMO Stating small on the internet and trying to exploit a niche in the market would be the way to go. That being said, I am not sure if there is a niche out there in the card market that has not been tried. I also have to wonder about the degree of disposable income that people currently have to devote to cards. I have been away from the hobby for a while though. I have known of two instances in which a person has purchased an existing card business. In both instances, I have seen the buyer not really able to recoup their initial investment and in one case, the buyer inherited the problems with the previous business. I think that it is safe to say that most of us have flipped cards for a profit. It is much easier to flip cards when a person does not have to worry about supporting yourself and or your family.
Best of luck to you on whatever you decide to try.
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Old 07-04-2012, 01:53 PM
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If it already hasn't been mentioned, make sure you factor the cost of health insurance into your business plan.
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:01 PM
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Hi,
I normally have between 500-1000 items on ebay at any one time. (I am taking the summer off, so I don't have any listings right now) This requires constant work. Every morning before work and every evening after work, I am shipping cards, answering questions, responding to offers, etc. Every weekend I am scanning dozens of items and listing them in turbolister before I upload them to ebay.

Having a successful ebay store requires constant work. You have to be willing to let go of slow moving items at a loss so you can buy more inventory. It can be tough to find enough inventory, at the right price, to keep the store stocked. Most of my items are BIN with best offer, and I nearly always accept any offer that is 40% or more of my BIN price. If I buy at the right price I can accept 40% and still make a profit and the whole point is to sell the cards. I would rather make two bucks profit on a card and move it right away than let it sit for 2 years so I might possibly make $10.

When I think about quitting my job and doing this full time, I start doing some math. If you look at my salary, vacation, sick leave, life insurance, health insurance, retirement plan, etc, I take the annual total and divide it by 250 work days. ( Mon through Friday 50 weeks per year). Now I know how much PROFIT I need to make every day in order to match my current income.

Let's say that profit number is $250 per day. Now, I need to have enough daily ebay sales so that I can make $250 per day. That means that if my state and federal taxes are 35%, and my social security and medicare is %15 per cent, I have to make a before taxes profit of $500 per day. Now, if you figure the cost of the items that you sell, ebay and paypals cut, shipping expenses, utilities, ink for your your printer, and all of the other costs that come with it, I would probably need sales of $1000 per day in order to end up with $250 in my pocket.

If you are selling items at $10 each, that would be 100 sales per day, 100 invoices to print, 100 packages to mail, 100 cards to scan, 100 cards to list, plus you would need to be super organized so you could find the cards right away to prepare them for shipping. That is a lot of work for $250 per day.

Not only that, but if you are using BIN's rather than auctions you would probably need to be running 2000-3000 items in order to sell 100 items per day.

You can supplement your income on the weekends by setting up at shows. I have set up at shows when I didn't make the $35 table fee and I have set up where I sold every item that I brought, so you never know. In the past I was able to purchase a lot of inventory that customers brought to the shows, but that doesn't happen much any more. The nice thing about shows is that you can normally blow out a lot of junk that won't sell on ebay.

A brick and mortar store would be great, but the overhead would be a killer. The great thing about having a physical location is that you will get a lot of people coming through the door looking to sell their collections. The perfect solution would be to have a regular store, an ebay store, and set up at shows on the weekends, but it would be one hell of a lot of work.

Good luck with your decision, but make sure that you fully analyze your costs. The general rule for most start ups is figure what you think your start up costs will be - then double it, and you will still be short.

Rick
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Old 07-06-2012, 09:03 AM
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Another thing to consider is that every hobby business that I've seen be siccessful -defined as lasing more than a few years- Has taken advantage of a great deal of networking and making smart moves.

The stamp guy I did some work for aimed at turming most stuff quickly, hopefully in less than a month, occasionally in less than a day. As long as he had profit he was happy, even if he left a good deal of money on the table.

Closet full of stock certificates? Sold before he got them back to the shop.
Much postcard? Turned in a week for a nice profit, eventually sold through a couple other people and ended up going at auction for 10K! And he wasn't bothered by that. His customer had the one contact to get from $500 to $5000 and was a regular.
He also would buy a collection at a show and sell it before he got back to the table. That takes a lot of general knowledge plus mentally keeping track of who will buy what.

The local card shop sells lots of memorabilia too, current posters and penants type stuff.
But they also use internet contacts very well. The day Curtis Martin went to the Jets they sold their entire inventory of his cards to a NY dealer. Not for full price, but they unloaded what would soon be dead inventory and the NY guy got an instant inventory of what would be that weeks hot cards in his area.

More business happens at stamp shows before the doors open than after. Same for coins. I haven't seen that the couple times I did a show, but I was new and didn't have much money or inventory. (Always seemed to have the wrong sort of stuff. Just one reason I didn't get into it full time.)

Steve B
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Old 07-06-2012, 03:33 PM
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I have had a brick and mortar shop for 21 years now. Prior to opening the shop I was a municipal bond trader at a large Investment banking house. I actually liked my job but wanted my own business, something I really would love. I still love it today but would not recommend anyone attempting to open up a collectibles store in this day and age unless they had a huge chunk of capital to fall back on. I think Charles Darwin had it right as it has truly been "survival of the fittest." Everyone around me has slowly folded shop. I deal heavily in vintage (I always have been heavily oriented in 60's and back material) as my customer base is 30-70 year old men. When I first opened it was 70% kids/30% adults. What few kids are around will buy autographed memorabilia but most disposable income is left for video games and the sort. I have picked up some customers from my website and ebay has been a great outlet when times are really slow. Finding vintage is tough and finding it in decent shape even tougher. But, you never know what may walk through the door and that keeps the excitement going. I am also a massive collector (a true conflict of interest) so I really love the stuff. The collectibles shop owner in the town I live always asks if I would buy his store(he survives but it is tough and he has been in business 25 years). He usually sells me the vintage that walks into his shop. He gets way more vintage walk-ins than I do as he is in a more rural area. So, in the end, as a hands on shop owner I truly love the business and it is still fun but I do not think one can make a living as a new start-up brick and mortar. I know I could not start from scratch again and expect to survive. I still do okay because of longevity and reputation. Hope that helps some-Bob Beck-Bob Beck Sports Collectibles.
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:10 PM
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In 2001 I started buying on ebay and buying out show dealers with the goal of finishing all Topps sets from 52-present. I purchased partial sets, lots, etc and began piecing together these sets. At this time I had some "extra" income and I used it to buy with. As I started amassing dupes, I began to use ebay to sell them off.

By 04, my selling evolved into monthly auctions of around 500 singles. I sold off larger groups of doubles also. I used the proceeds from selling to continue buying cards to fill holes and upgrade my sets. At this point, I realized when buying vintage cards in groups, I could make a profit by selling them individually.

By 06 I had finished all of my sets, except for half of the 52 hi #s. At this same time I began really disliking my job. I realized that the monthly auctions would not support my lifestyle, so I began to experiment with different selling formats on ebay.

In 07 I opened my ebay store and focused on buying (still upgrading my collection, but primarily for resell) to stock my store. Then in 08, I sold 10k singles, in 09 15k singles, and in 10 I sold 22k singles on a part time basis (evenings, weekends).

So in late 10 I decided that 2011 would be the year to go full time. The things I had in place were an established customer base, a system for efficiently listing and shipping cards. I felt that I had worked out all of the kinks and was ready for full time.

About 16 months ago, my long time boss was let go and I knew my time had come also. Last June I began full time. I had about 12k cards in my inventory with another 10k ready to list...so that is what I started with. I listed and shipped, listed and shipped 10-12 hours a day. I used my extra income to continue to purchase cards to ramp inventory. That was still not enough. Good thing my credit cards both had $20k limits and were both running 10 month interest free with no extra fee promos. I used all $40k of this free money to build my inventory. So far, I have built my inventory to over 35k singles with more inventory to still list and have completely paid of these two credit cards without paying a dime of interest. As far as sales, some months are busier than others, but I have continued to pay myself, every week, the same amount I was paid at my previous job, including the dreaded taxes and retirement funds. I put in 10-12 hours a day, but that is what I worked before. I have continued to improve my efficiency with listing and shipping so I am still listing (growing my inventory) more cards per week than I am selling. Currently I am on pace in 2012 to sell around 75k cards, which means I will turn my inventory 2+ times this year.

What have I learned from all of this is it is possible to make a comfortable living selling vintage singles by starting slow and developing an efficient system to sell/ship cards. Depending on how quickly you want to start and ramp your business, having access to capital to help grow your business is a factor. I am still constantly looking and listening for new ways to operate the business in more efficient and cost effective ways. However, the most important part of making this happen is to consistently treat other collectors as fairly as possible and quickly fix any mistakes. I have also worked to develop connections with various sellers to ensure a constant supply of reasonably price inventory. The best part, is I have not touched any of my own collection to start this business...it is there for severe emergencies only.

Many of the estimates of costs in this thread are quite accurate. All of my costs equal approximately 25% of my income (ebay, paypal fees, shipping supplies, shipping, etc). My COG sold averages out at 35%, in other words by buying in bulk, I pay around 35 cents for every dollar worth of product I sell. My wife has excellent health care so there is no expense there. It can be done.
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Old 07-31-2012, 06:03 PM
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I don't have experience as an entrepreneur so take this for what it's worth. If I were to open a business, I would try to get in on the ground floor of a new industry. I believe there are simply too many people engaged in dealing baseball cards (including vintage) to allow for a new business to be particularly successful.
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:29 PM
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Speaking from experience as someone who sorta chose to step into the role of a dealer: you will have to work A LOT to be able to make a living at it. I was selling collectibles on eBay on the side while working my day job as a civil engineer. When all the real estate/economy issues hit full force, commercial construction basically stopped, meaning there was no demand for site design and I was out of a job with about zero chance of finding another in my field of training. At the time (and still now), I was very glad to have something to fall back on as that was when I ramped up my selling and began "doing eBay" full-time. And I'm still doing so nearly 3 years later, but still put in a lot of hours every day, week in and week out. I make ends meet, but often just barely

I would NOT recommend anyone try to jump into full-time selling of anything without prior experience, good contacts, and a back-up plan. I would also suggest that, if you're looking at starting a collectibles business as a means to "step up" in life, you need to think long an hard about it, and then think about it some more, and then probably not do it.

Keep in mind that it is much easier to buy than it is to sell, and if you refine that to "sell profitably" the gap widens further, and if you further refine it to "consistently sell profitably" it gets even tougher.

If you're STILL thinking about giving it a shot, how about doing a trial run first? Figure out what you want to sell (sounds like baseball cards are your thing, but could be anything). Find a good collection to purchase, or several smaller collections, buy it, and once you have it at home, take some time off from your regular job (preferably a month, if you want to make it realistic). Now, start flipping. Sell only what you've bought for this exercise (your existing collection doesn't count, because you can't depend on making a living forever selling your accumulated goods unless you're already of retirement age). At the end of the month, figure up how much profit you've actually made, deducting the original cost of the collection, eBay fees, Paypal fees, TAXES (good grief, don't forget taxes), shipping materials, all of that. Then take out your normal living expenses: mortgage, gas, food, utilities, insurance (figure in something realistic, not subsidized by your employer), all of that. Now, if you're still in the black, consider what you had to do to obtain the material you just sold. Is it realistic to expect to find that same kind of "great deal" week in and week out, month in and month out, year round? Were you able to work through all the material you picked up? Or did you blow through it quicker than you could replace it?

The point is, anyone can sell off a collection and feel good about the money they got for it. It's a whole other animal to be able to sell off the collection at a good price in a timely manner and find another collection to purchase to continue the cycle while still taking a chunk out of "working capital" every month for living expenses. Many many many would-be "dealers" have found out the hard way that it is not an easy process to maintain.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:23 PM
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Seems alot of the dealers got out of business or started auction websites. That seems to be the big thing now. Maybe turn to that route if you can find good inventory to start and then find consignors. High end auction houses are out there so trying to compete with them will be tough to impossible but if you stuck to low end auctions there is alot more of us out there than high end. Do it part time to see how it goes and then decide on your job but i for sure would not quit your job right now the way the economy is and the income from your job you will need to get started. Brick and morter shops are almost obsolete because of the internet. Just my views

thats so they dont have to shower anymore, and wont need to buy deodorant
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:08 PM
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thats so they dont have to shower anymore, and wont need to buy deodorant
The shows I went to I never got setup next to guys that did either one of these anyways.
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