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Selling Sports Cards on eBay: Three Tips for Saving Money

By The Old Prof

In my first post, I offered some beginning tips about selling sports cards on eBay – specifically focusing on your selling “attitude.” In this post, I want to offer some tips about saving money – that is, lowering your selling costs. Remember, it isn’t so much what you gross (your total sales numbers) in your eBay sales; it’s about your profit margin. That is, your gross selling earnings minus the costs you have in making those earnings.

If you are a big player on eBay, then this post is not for you. But I am small potatoes. I make profit a dollar or two at a time. A few years ago, I was a friend with the owners of a sports card shop that made their money buying cases of hockey cards from a manufacturer and cracking these cases to make and sell team sets to the different NHL arenas for their vending machines. They once told me: “We can’t survive by selling $2 cards.” But I can, and I do.

In fact, the $1 and $2 card became my market. Once in awhile, I get lucky, but I sell $1 and $2 cards. And, although I am small potatoes, over the years I have done well by selling cards a dollar at a time. That said, you won’t make money if it costs you $1 to sell a card for $1.50. In fact, by the time your eBay fees and Paypal fees are subtracted, you will actually lose money.

Tip #1: Do Your Research Before Listing A Card.

When you sell a sports card, you list two costs for a buyer must pay to purchase the card. First, you list the cost of the card itself. Second, you list a shipping charge. You can track what a card is likely to sell for by simply searching the eBay site and look at “Sold listings.” And, if you look at “Completed listings,” you can also figure out what cards are NOT selling for. Some eBayers don’t seem to care whether a card sells quickly or not, so they list a card on the high end. Not me, I don’t want to lose money, but I want to move product.



So when I price a card to list, I try – if possible – to keep my cards at the lower end of the price range. It’s your choice where at what price your card; regardless, you should do some research before making that choice. Do your homework.

Tip #2: Keep Your Shipping Low, But Factor In Your Expenses.

As noted above, after setting the price of a card, the next charge you list for potential buyers is the cost of shipping. Honestly, I am not sure why anyone would buy a card from an eBay seller who charges $4.00 for shipping a single card; but, I suppose people do.

One nice thing about selling sports cards on eBay is that you know exactly what postage charges will be for what you sell. Being a Canadian eBay seller, I have memorized the costs for shipping sports cards to Canada, to the United States, and globally. Once I figure out what postage costs [how much I will spend buying stamps – including tax], I then factor in what eBay will charge me for selling the cards AND what my Paypal fees will be. And, I add those fees to the postage charge. Luckily, both eBay fees and Paypal fees are quite low, so even if you add (1) the cost of stamps, (2) your eBay fees for selling, and (3) your Paypal fees, you can keep your postage costs low in comparison to other sellers.

I encourage sellers to be careful about what their charges are for selling and include those charges into their postage. However, I also encourage sports card eBay sellers NOT to get greedy. Charge only enough to pay for the costs for stamps, eBay fees, and Paypal fees – but little more.

Tip #3: Make Thrift Stores Your Friend

I have come to frequent card stores, flea markets, AND thrift stores. I will talk more about card stores and flea markets later, but let me offer some advice about thrift stores. Sometimes, but not often, I find a bag of sports cards at a thrift store, but really not that often. If I do find a lot, it is usually priced by someone who doesn’t know what cards are worth – so it is overpriced. That said, thrift stores are great for supplies – specifically, for shipping envelopes.

via wiki commons

Almost every thrift store I know bags up someone’s leftover envelopes and sells them 50 or 100 a time far cheaper than you can buy them in bulk from a supply store or even at a dollar store. Plus, I go to charity-based thrift stores, so I know my money is going to support a good cause. My advice: buy all your envelopes at thrift stores.

Also, as a sports card seller, you need packing tape. I look for sales wherever I go, but I also am creative with what I use for packing tape. One great thrift store find were three huge rolls of white name tags – the sort of name tags you use at business meetings so people know your name. They were open, and the outer roll a bit soiled; but, each roll was priced at $1.00. I am still using one of the rolls almost a year later. I use it for taping large sold lots of cards together; for extra taping envelops shut – which I suggest you do; and, small pieces for holding cards and their plastic sleeves into the top loaders.

In later posts, I will give more advice about how to buy cards cheaply, but I encourage you as an eBay sports card seller to work hard to minimize your own costs. That puts more money in your own pocket. Good luck selling.

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