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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. More details to come on this in another article.
Whether you like this new way of doing business or not, it seems to be the current reality we live in.