Every year around this time, people talk about their New Years Resolutions. But what is the point of making them? They are generally meant to encourage our better traits and discourage us from engaging in a less desirable behavior. But what do our sports card resolutions look like?
As sports card collectors, we all have some tendencies that are counter-productive or just plain dumb. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of our shortcomings and, if possible, correct them. How? Well, as G.I. Joe told us (if you are under 30, look it up!), “knowing is half the battle.”
So, our Cardlines New Years Resolutions are here to help you know yourself in preparation for another year of collecting.
We collect to have fun. However, sometimes our own habits sabotage that fun. That is where our New Years Sports Card Resolutions come in, to save the day.
Most of us have a pretty messy collecting area. We constantly put off organizing our collection and watch things go from bad to worse. There is so much else to do, and we have little appetite for a new project.
However, there are good reasons to put our collection in order:
You know the one. That set you started on with high hopes four years ago and got distracted by the latest prospects and fads. Go back and finish it. There aren’t many avenues in life where we can get genuine closure.
With eBay and COMC out there, you should be able to finish any reasonably popular set. If you have trouble finishing it, that will render the hunt all the more exciting. Think how much Ahab enjoyed chasing that white whale. Or something. Haven’t read that book in a while. Either way, you will get an immense sense of satisfaction from finishing a project.
There are so many fads and promising players out there. We sometimes feel compelled to make moves that don’t bring us joy. Then we think hollow when they don’t pan out.
A simple solution is to focus on the cards you most enjoy collecting. For example, don’t chase football prospects if you dislike the sport, and don’t buy Bowman if baseball bores you stiff.
We are more likely to enjoy buying what we love. We also understand our favorite sports better and have a better chance of beating the market. So, ultimately, it’s a win-win.
Sure, we collect to have fun. But it’s even more fun when we make a profit, right? Here are our New Years Sports Card Resolutions designed to put some extra money in your pockets.
Traditionally, the base rookie card has a massive place in our hobby. However, in any vintage set, we look for the rookies of future stars and value them at a premium.
However, in recent years things have changed. Every collector knows that rookie cards are more valuable than other cards. Therefore, more people store them properly for safekeeping. More recently, collectors have begun to grade massive amounts of base rookie cards.
What has this done? The prices of recent base rookies have gone down as the supplies are plentiful. We covered this in a recent article on the card price decrease of the last few months. Instead, we recommend you spend a bit more on numbered parallels or autos.
Collecting cards is an emotional business. However, that doesn’t mean you cry when one of your investments doesn’t pan out (though we will not judge you, either way, Cardlines is a safe space).
That means we have to be highly aware that we make bad decisions when high emotions. One example is the urge to buy wax and singles of new products upon release. After all, we desire the newest and shiniest releases. It’s human nature, right?
But very often, the price of a newly released product is at its highest early on. With singles, the sharp can be precipitous. Think of a product like NBA Hoops. It is the first release of the new crop of rookies in their pro-uniforms, so we are all titillated by the prospect of getting a genuine Cade Cunningham rookie.
But singles from the new packs are priced according to demand. So, they will be excessively high at first. However, their value plummets when rookies from more desirable releases like Prizm and Hoops hit. The bottom line is this: wait until the cards you want are no longer new and exciting and buy at that time. Either way, the emotional high of the purchase will soon wear off. What you are left with is the return on investment. Make sure it is a good one.
One of the best ways to avoid emotional bidding is employing an auction sniper. With your predetermined maximum bid, these functional gizmos swoop in at the end of an auction. You do not need to be watching the auction or even awake for it to place your bid.
The price of grading has been on the increase for a while. Couple that with the decrease in the value of base cards, and the math is straightforward. The vast majority of base cards are not worth grading.
Right now, the costs at PSA are incredibly high. If you are lucky and manage to get in on one of their “virtual queueing events,” you can grade a card for $100. If you don’t get in on one of these events, you are looking at $150 per card.
If you look at comps for most base rookies, they will not net you a significant enough profit to justify the effort and cost of grading.
How do you make money off cards? By selling them of course. Here are your New Years Sports Card Resolutions for more profitable and ethical card sales.
If you know what you are doing, selling cards on eBay can net you a substantial profit. But it isn’t just about what you are selling. It is also a question of how you present it.
There are several things to keep in mind when selling on eBay. Getting even one of these wrong can significantly decrease the value of your sale.
You would be amazed how many listings are seriously misspelled. That can spell a bonanza for buyers. But for sellers, it can mean that very few people see your listing. So the eBay algorithm is set to carefully filter out less relevant results and provide the buyer with the most pertinent listings.
So, if you misspell any relevant words, the algorithm will display your cards lower than necessary. The price you will receive will be lower as a result.
So our advice is to treat every listing like a job application. First, spell check it with a program like Grammarly or Word spellcheck and then reread it carefully. In particular, make sure you get the athlete’s name right!
Many postings suffer from a lack of interest due to bad timing. It would help if you made sure that the people most likely to buy your card are awake and engaged when it is time to put in the final bids.
So, let’s say you post a Clayton Kershaw rookie card and live in Philadelphia. Please don’t post it first thing in when you wake up at 7 AM. Or at least schedule the auction to close at a different time. Remember that the sale will close at 4 AM when most sane Dodgers fans are still asleep. Things get even more complicated when there is a truly international audience, as in the case of soccer cards.
Ultimately, you want to determine when your median customer is most likely to be online and in a bidding mood. That tends to be between 5 and 9 PM on weekdays.
It sucks to receive a damaged card in the mail. However, you may also accrue actual costs when cards you sell arrive in bad condition. In addition, your scores and reputation as a seller may suffer as a result.
There are different methods of protecting cards. But it is hard to beat the tried-and-true method:
Many of the resolutions I have recommended so far focused on more efficient hobby practices. However, no New Years’ resolution list would be complete without resolving to become a better person. Obviously, the most important arenas to act morally are our families and communities. But what we do in the hobby also matters. After all, what are we, if not a dysfunctional community?
So, here is a list of things we can all do to make the hobby more pleasant for everyone involved.
We all have firm beliefs that what we collect is objectively cool. And to prove that we have better taste, collectors tend to trash what others love.
Do you need examples? Oh, I have them. People who only grade PSA look down on “inferior” slabs. Sports collectors are belittling Pokémon enthusiasts. Set completists are bemoaning the practices of flippers and investors. The list goes on.
We are all entitled to our opinions. Lord knows I have mine. But when you see something you don’t like at a cards show or on social media. No one wins when you make mean comments. The hobby should be fun! And let’s keep it real. We are all adults collecting pieces of cardboard. The whole pursuit is kind of ridiculous. So, who are we to judge?
Canceled eBay bids are a real pain. When we auction off a card, sellers have every right to expect the payer to pay the card’s price. So if you don’t want the card or can’t afford it, don’t bid.
And no, not a single person on earth is buying your excuse that your cousins’ roommate has a four-year-old with access to your eBay. And if he did, we doubt the child would bid on a Wander Franco Bowman refractor.
Flipping is not the most pleasant side of the hobby. Most of us would rather see cards go to enthusiasts and kids.
However, there is a place for it. People have a right to make a living, and if the market rewards flipping Prizm blasters, then so be it.
But there is no reason to flip Score, Hoops, or Opening Day retail products. There is little margin for profit, and it’s just not worth the time and effort. Also, keep in mind that the whole hobby suffers if the kids don’t have cards to buy. Yup, that means fewer people to buy Prizm blasters from you. So leave some products on the shelves.
We all have a ton of base cards and other commons we don’t need. Or maybe we collected something and lost interest. We have all been there.
Instead of throwing them out or selling them for peanuts on eBay, why not donate cards? Sure, sports cards are not the most essential items children need. But kids need more than the essentials. They need fun, joy, and hope.
If you are anything like me, you remember the fun you had collecting as a youngster. So give a disadvantaged child that same feeling.
How to donate? Most goodwill stores accept sports cards. There are even foundations designed explicitly for that purpose. Kids love the big stars, so throw in their later year cards. You can even give a rookie or two if you are in the giving spirit.
Wait, how did that get here.
Novelist Henry James had some sage advice as to suitable for collecting as any other human endeavor. “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; the third is to be kind.”
That is easier said than done. But remember that we are in this hobby to have fun first. Everything else is secondary. So follow our New Years Sports Card Resolutions and let’s make a joint effort to keep this fun and enjoyable.
Here is to another satisfying year of collecting.