Selling Your Vintage Sports Cards A Buyers View

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First off ..... I do not consider myself an expert on collecting baseball cards! I'm just your average guy that has been collecting baseball cards for my own enjoyment for past 30+ years. Living in a small community it was nearly impossible to find the cards I wanted .......... Then Ebay came along!

I've been buying ....... and selling cards off of Ebay now for around 5 years now and have seen some really great sellers and some really poor ones! Naturally, I avoid the ones that I personally feel don't take the buyer into consideration. Alot of these sellers are new and are just starting off while others are Powersellers. Most don't take the time or frankly just want to move their merchandise.

The following tips I've listed below is short and sweet and is based off my own experiences and what I believe are the better selling practices that are being used out there in Ebay land for older sports trading cards. Although I'm partial to baseball cards from the 1950's and 1960's, I'm sure this applies to most older trading cards in general.

OK .......... Here are my thoughts! 

From the point of a buyer

1.    PICTURES! PICTURES! PICTURES!    Ahhhh, yes! I feel that one of the best practices of selling anything on Ebay is including an image of the Exact item you are wanting to sell. Yes, you may provide a great description of an item you want to sell  but if you provide a nice bigger picture it works wonders. My thoughts on pictures are: If you are taking the time to provide an image of the card or cards that you are selling ......... provide one big enough for the potential buyer to actually see! Come on now, anyone that has browsed the auctions long enough knows exactly what I mean. What good is a picture that shows a small shot of the card for sell but doesn't even give you a hint of what the condition really is! Some auctions show a picture that you can barely make out the name! Give the buyer a nice big look at what you have. If you have nice cards ........ SHOW THEM OFF! You might be surprised on how many more bids you can receive on a card that has bigger pictures. Granted, if you only have a digital camera you may not get the results you want but with a scanner there is really no excuse. With that said ....... Some flaws don't always show up clearly on scans either, which brings me to:

2.   DESCRIPTION   If you want the best price for your cards and the fewest hassles after the sale, provide the buyer with an accurate description as you can of the condition your cards. Pretend that you are the buyer who is using his hard earned dollar to purchase that one card that you need to finish your set. Whether a picture is included or not, Mention any flaw (corner ding, spotting, creasing/ wrinkle, writing , paper loss, etc.)  ........ Remember, picture hosts do have a tendency from time to time to not load your picture every time. In this case it is essential to have an accurate description. Take the time to examine every card in any lot you are selling ....... LoL! I'm not talking about placing them under a microscope. It really doesn't take that long to hold the card and tilt it back and forth and look for a small paper crease or gun smudge that may not show up by looking at it straight on. Nothing worse than buying that card that looks and sounds if it is in immaculate shape only to find out that it does have a light crease or wrinkle that didn't show up in the scan.


One thing that I look for in auctions selling lots (multiple cards) is a complete listing of numbers of the actual cards for sale in this said lot. Hmmmm ....... While it may be a pain to list every card for sale in a lot of a 100+  or more cards .... it may well be worth it in the long run. Listing the names on every card is not all that important to me compared to listing #'s although listing the stars names could be key in people doing a search. Personally, I will tend to pay a lot more money if I know every # that is included. I don't know how many times I've came across an auction for X amount of cards and the seller only lists 4 or 5 card numbers and wants you to take a guess at what the rest are. Also it doesn't take that much time to go ahead and list the cards in numerical order. If you're listing the numbers  ... put them order. I've seen plenty of auctions where they did take the time to list the numbers but they were not listed in particular order. May sound like I'm a little picky doesn't it! Well ..... I am. I've noticed that a lot of sellers will be throwing in a lot of duplicates without actually coming out and telling you. They figure if they have 3 or 4 of the same cards and they scatter them through the list you may not notice and technically they are telling you there are dup's. Also, without a list, if the seller doesn't get the price he wants, this gives him an out to throw in cards of lesser value .......... Now I know that most sellers wouldn't think of doing this but why give the buyer an excuse not to bid......... I have ran across a few sellers who have actually implied this in their auction.

Also, when selling in "lots" it is usually a good practice to sell cards in similiar condition. Not all, but a lot of buyers are looking for cards in a specific condition so grouping cards in similar condition is a plus for the buyer and again may bring a better price. I realize that if you are selling a large lot ...... explaining every cards condition in exact detail is rather time consuming. If the cards are basically in the same condition, give the overall details and provide good pictures of as many cards as you can ..... showing what you feel is the best and worst cards in the given lot.

When buying cards in "lots" I look for for auctions that group cards in similar condition (all cards in VG ... VG/EX .... EX .... NrMT .... etc) or at least a smaller swing in condition. I also look for auctions that list every number of every card in this lot. Duplicating cards that I all ready have is a given but I like to keep it at a minimum.

Mistakes do happen ..... Overlooking a flaw is only human.! If you do make an error ..... own up to it. I have purchased cards from sellers that made mistakes and the ones admit are more likely to get my repeat business.


3.    Communication   You might be surprised in the amount of sellers that I have contacted with a question .......... and never received a response! This should be a no-brainer but try and respond to questions as soon as you can. Then again ..... there's not much you can do about the person that waits to the last moment to ask either!

4.    Shipping and Handling Charges   Any smart buyer will throw in the cost of S/H when figuring what they will pay for an auction. I can't tell you how many times I've passed on an auction because I've felt the "handling" costs are out of line ........ you know $6.00 for shipping 10 via USPS Media Mail. Don't get me wrong ...... I don't have a problem with the seller recouping his costs for the actual postage, padded mailer, soft sleeves, top loader, etc. but actually making a profit on shipping turns me off. I have seen cards I normally would have purchased but cruised right on buy just because of those darn S/H charges. In some cases I probably would have bid more than what would have made up the difference if the S/H costs were more in line. Yes some buyers may not take this in account, but when I'm selling I really can't live with myself. For those of you who are just starting out ........ I'm not about to tell you what to charge ...... because I really have no clue of what you are paying for your supplies which is really what these costs are based on. I  really don't have a problem with paying minimumal "handling" fees because I do realize that there are some costs like Ebay fees that can make things unpleasant for the seller. In short, take a look at what some of the more respectable sellers are charging for similar items and you should be OK. As long as these fees are in line ..... I'll buy!


5.   Actual Shipping of Cards   After your item has been sold, the final step in completing the transaction is to make sure the cards make it to the buyer in the same shape that they were when you first put them up for auction ....... Hmmmmm ...... That doesn't mean when you packaged them! Remember ...... It might be your luck to have that disgruntled worker that has a bad day. It is your responsibility to make sure that the cards are received in the same condition as they were advertised whether they purchase insurance or not! Most sellers assume that just because the buyer did not buy insurance that relieves you of the responsibility of good packaging! Hmmm ...... That's not true! The best practice is to PROTECT! PROTECT! PROTECT! There is many acceptable ways to ship your cards! Shipping in a steel box is over doing it but just a little common sense goes a long ways.

Normally, placing cards in a soft sleeve, top loader sandwiched in between rigid cardboard and then in a padded mailer is just fine for one or a small amount of cards. I've seen many different ways of shipping larger lots. Shipping cards in plastic boxes made just for ball cards which are then placed in a small box is great. I've seen the plastic cases placed in padded mailers before which have arrived OK but I have seen the plastic arrive broken before. There are many different ways to package these cards, but common sense should prevail. A card just thrown into an envelope is not very wise or desirable to the buyer. Believe me ...... I have received cards this way! Never bought from the same seller either!


6.  PAYMENT OPTIONS   The more options you offer the better! There is all sorts of buyers out there with different preferences! Some buyers won't bid if they can't use Pay-Pal, while others don't trust anyone with their credit card or bank account #'s. Accepting checks is one option that I will not really touch on because that is totally a matter of how much trust you put into your fellow human. I have not had that many problems with accepting checks from buyers that have a great reputation. I usually state in my auction that I will take a check but I reserve the right to hold item until it clears (if buyer is a repeat customer or has great feedback I normally don't hold). Payment options are strictly up to you but the more options you give the better chance of making a sell and getting more for your auction goes up.

7.   MISC.    The actual time you start your auction or auctions may make a difference. There is an argument out there for about starting auctions on any given day ......... Is one day better than another? Is there a time of day thats better than another? LoL! I don't know that there is a good answer! I tend to avoid selling on Tuesdays or Wed. myself but thats just from my experience. Time of day? Thats a matter of opinion also. I think most people tend to list in the evenings but I've had decent luck at times listing in the afternoons on weekdays to catch the people surfing (loafing) during work hours. In short, whenever listing, pick a time that you can devote to taking care of  a completed sale when it has ended ......... after all ..... the time you pick to start will be the time of day it ends. So if you will be on vacation or occupied when the auction ends you may be better off waiting for another day or hour ..... there are people who will pay immediately with Pay-Pal if you offer that option.

My guide should not be used as a sellers bible! LoL! I know I could have listed a million more suggestions and I know that other sellers out there have different practices and thoughts on this subject. Heck..... there's probably better ideas out there. I have seen alot of questions from new sellers on the chat boards and I thought this would be a way to help cover some of the more common subjects asked.

In closing, I would like to tell anyone out there who is thinking of selling their collection or to that someone who wants to try and sell for some extra cash ..... whether selling one card at a time or in any # of lots....... That one key to success is putting yourself in the buyers shoes! With an accurate description, pictures that potential buyers can actually see, care in packaging, and realistic S/H fees ...... not only will you have the best chance for selling your items for the max. amount but you also have a better chance of building the coveted repeat customer! Generally, the more time you put into your auction the better chance you have in making a sell and as a side benefit the more money you might actually make in this highly competitive category!


Thanks for reading my thoughts! Have a great time on Ebay no matter what you do!


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