How to buy and sell trading cards
Resellers are flooding into the trading card market and have been for the last couple of years. Why is this? Trading cards have much higher potential to grow in a quicker amount of time than shoes or most other collectibles. Trading cards have less retail price than shoes and take up less space. Opening packs of cards is nostalgic and has higher return on investment potential than a shoe, in a shorter amount of time. These are just some of the reasons. So how do you buy and sell trading cards? How do you learn if you’re a beginner?
There are four main stores that release cards. These include: Topps, Panini, Walmart, and Target. Topps.com and Panini.com typically release their hobby product, while Walmart and Target will carry their retail version. Hobby boxes are just more expensive boxes that typically contain hobby exclusive hits that retail doesn’t. Other retailers are starting to carry cards as well like some gas stations, super markets, and Barnes & Noble. Each different store does things a little differently and some will release online and in-store.
Topps.com has a US, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, and France store. They typically will release their products online for public purchase, as well as their card stores. Topps has trademarking rights for MLB and most soccer leagues, as well as Garbage Pail Kids, Star Wars, and other tv series.
The Topps site tends to be difficult to manually purchase cards that have hype and using a bot usually provides better chances of copping. If you are trying to cop cards manually, I find that it is best to use Apple Pay on your phone, or PayPal. This usually allows for a quicker check out. Topps typically requires you to have accounts to be able to purchase their products and it’s best to be logged in before a release for better chances of copping.
As far as release days go, Topps doesn’t typically give pre-release info. There are different card calendars available through sites like Cardboard Connection and Beckett, which are fairly accurate about what day certain products are releasing throughout the year.
Panini sells mainly NBA, NFL, and certain soccer cards. They don’t have licensing rights for MLB, so they aren’t able to put team names on the cards they produce. If you’re looking for NBA or NFL cards though, Panini is the place to buy them from. It is best to have a Panini account, because most releases will require them.
Panini does a different kind of release method than Topps. Topps typically will just set a retail price and have the product live until it sells out. Panini has First Off the Line Exclusive Boxes, which they will gauge the price by releasing them as a Dutch Auction Format. This just means that they start with a high price and decrease the price every few minutes until it sells out. After Panini gauges a price that customers are willing to pay, they will release the non First Off the Line boxes at a set retail price. A pro tip is to add the product you want from Dutch Auction to your cart early, because your cart will refresh the current price. When a Dutch Auction gets close to selling out, it gets more difficult to add the product to your cart.
Walmart will release Topps and Panini products via online and in-store. There are different retail products varying from $5-50 retail. The different retail products will typically increase in resell value as the retail price increases. Typically, a week or two after Panini or Topps releases their hobby box for a certain product, the retail version will start to show up in stores.
Copping in person is tricky because every location will restock cards at different times. Walmart has vendors who have a specific schedule that they come and restock the shelves at. So depending on where you live, it’s a good idea to try and find the time your vendor comes, so you can get to the product before it sells out. Some Walmarts keep their sports cards at customer service to prevent fights and someone from buying all of one product that is available.
Copping from Walmart online is even trickier. Bots have been eating up probably 90% of online stock, leaving manual users without much chance. Walmart will typically load product pages before they release stock, so bot users have the links typically days or weeks before it releases. Walmart has been releasing stock around 3PM EST for online product, but the specific day has been random.
Target will require accounts to purchase cards. Target online is tricky because they tend to lock accounts before a release, requiring you to reset your password before you can checkout a product. For online releases, they have been loading the product they are releasing about 15-30 minutes before it goes live. This gives you a good idea of what products will be profitable and which ones you should focus on. Online stock is still typically eaten by bots, but manual users tend to have a better chance. In-store stock is tricky because Target has been limiting each customer to two products. The checkout registers are also set to go off if more than two is scanned. Just like with Walmart, vendors come at set times each week or two to stock the shelves. If you can find out when your vendor comes, you have a better chance of copping before the shelves are cleared.
Now that you know the basics of how to cop cards from different retailers, let’s talk about how to sell cards. There are different places you can sell cards that includes locally, on Facebook, eBay, Stockx, Mercari, etc. Different online platforms charge a different fee per sale, so to avoid fees you can sell locally through something like Facebook marketplace or at card shows.
Before we discuss much more on selling, there are two main ways you can make money with cards. These include selling boxes sealed, or by opening boxes and selling individual cards. There is risk with opening boxes, because you never know what you’re going to get. This leads to high return potential, but also risk of losing the money you would get just selling the product at market value. The market value of most boxes are so high that it is difficult to make more than the market value by opening it.
If you do rip boxes, you can sell cards raw or graded. What I mean by raw, is ungraded. There are different things that go into knowing if you should grade your card or not. These include the centering of the card, the edges, the surface, and the corners of the card. If these look good and the card has good potential to grow if graded, it’s a good idea to send it off to graders. If your card has some surface issues, it’s best to just sell it raw either after you rip it, or after holding it, depending on the potential value increase.
The safest way to have good return on your investment is just selling boxes at the current market value, or by holding the boxes until the grow in price. Almost every sealed product out there will go up with time. This happens especially with sports cards from a year that has a good rookie class. As supply decreases as people open boxes, the demand will increase. If you look at products from a few years back, some boxes are hundreds more in value now, than when they first came out.