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Buying sports cards on eBay and online – the new frontier

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The monopoly that sports card stores once had when it came to buying and selling cards is long gone.

And like most things these days, the advent of new technologies has changed the landscape of this industry with more hobbyists exclusively relying on the internet to buy and sell cardboard.

While some bricks and mortar stores still do exist, there isn’t nearly as many as there used to be in the heyday of the hobby. If you’re lucky, you can still go and buy your packs or boxes the old-fashioned way. Oh the nostalgia!

But for the rest of us, the best place to look for the sports cards we want are on websites like eBay or COMC

The pros? The convenience of searching in your pajamas, comparing similar cards to get the best price possible, and having the vendor mail you the goods right to your home, are just a few.

The cons? Greater risk of receiving counterfeit products and being part of a flawed bidding process for the cards you want (ie. Shill bidding, which eBay defines as, “when anyone—including family, friends, roommates, employees, or online connections—bids on an item with the intent to artificially increase its price or desirability), as well as shipping and handling costs.

Of course, there are always methods to mitigate some of those risks like buying from trusted sources (check their reviews), and buying graded cards, which are more likely to be in the shape and condition as described in the listing.

What it comes down to is to use common sense. If the price of a card seems too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s not to say there aren’t good deals to be had, but remember, in the online world, there are many more customers eyeing the same thing you are.

That said, the internet also helps keep prices competitive since a lot more sellers are competing against each other.

There are also plenty of box and case breaks offered online where you can be part of a group of fellow collectors that opens a box or case together for a fee, and take home the cards from a team you signed up for.

Whether you like this new way of doing business or not, it seems to be the current reality we live in.

0 thoughts on “Buying sports cards on eBay and online – the new frontier”

  1. While not having an LCS is a sad reality for most hobbyists these days, the business model for them is unfortunately not very sustainable long term unless they have adapted and embraced the modern technology aspects. I used to work for a store and the owner would leave cards in the case for out of market teams/players for entirely too long while staying entirely too high priced. Needless to say, he isn’t open any more. There are owners like Rbicru7 who do it right by both promoting the physical store with their trade nights and running a daily online box break service including recaps on Instagram. There’s one element missing though that does help: card shows. Card shows can be a destination and fun day trip for hobbyists, networking in person with others and dealing with those who may not have the ability to be a full time card dealer but still have a substantial inventory. From your local Elks Lodge to the Nationals, card shows can be a viable way to get deals at or below the online market prices (remind the sellers about the fees they would pay if they sold online while negotiating) and circumvent the pratfalls that come with shipping (looking at you, USPS). Don’t forget to bring YOUR extra items to deal, if you walk around with a box under your arm you’re sure to invoke the curiosity of dealers and fellow patrons of the show and could walk out with more than what your cashflow that day may have allowed if you are willing to deal. Great topic!

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