Millions of Americans tune in to their favorite sports each week across the United States. The MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA attract much of the attention, but hundreds of thousands of viewers also tune into the PGA Tour, MLS, and other leagues.
But what most of these viewers don't realize is that their passion for sports opens doors for a variety of side hustles that can be monetized!
What are baseball cards?
Baseball cards are collectibles that typically feature photographs or drawings of baseball players on one side, and some combination of statistics, biographical information, or fun facts on the other. Traditionally made out of cardboard or a similar material, many baseball cards are now made of plastic.
Oftentimes, as time goes on, cards of popular players or those that were produced in smaller numbers may increase in value, providing an opportunity for those that own them to sell them for more than they were acquired for.
What is baseball card flipping?
Baseball card flipping is the process of either collecting or purchasing baseball (or other sports cards) with the intent to then sell them at a profit.
These cards may be acquired a number of ways: purchased new in a pack, bought secondhand, or even acquired via a giveaway.
There are a number of strategies to baseball card flipping, including:
Buying and holding
Capitalizing on changes in demand
Searching for undervalued cards
1. Buying and holding
Buying cards and holding them for a period of time before you sell them can be a great way to make some money flipping baseball cards. The only problem is that this strategy takes the longest amount of time to earn a return.
But - if you have a collection of baseball cards from your childhood, this time factor may not be pertinent. In this case, I highly recommend that you search through your collection to see if you've got anything of value.
2. Capitalizing on changes in demand
If you're good at identifying trends just ahead of the curve, you may be able to make solid returns by capitalizing on changes in demand. With this strategy, you'll buy cards of a certain year, player, or type just as you see them increasing in popularity.
Then, if they continue to increase in popularity, the forces of supply and demand may help you sell them for more than you paid.
The risk here is misidentifying a trend or jumping in too late, which could make it difficult to turn a profit.
3. Searching for undervalued cards
This third strategy is the one that has the potential to make you the most money the quickest, and it will be the strategy I'll focus on today.
Essentially, you'll become a subject matter expert on baseball cards, learning as much as you can about:
Which cards are valuable
Whether a card is in good condition
Whether a card is underpriced
The idea behind this strategy is that you'll be able to identify good acquisitions and purchases more quickly than others that you're competing with.
How to find undervalued baseball cards
Finding undervalued baseball cards can be a really fun process because it can take you off the beaten path and help you meet some interesting people. All collectors have heard the famous stories about the Honus Wagner T206 baseball cards from 1909 that are worth millions of dollars, only to be found in mint condition at a yard sale or in someone's attic.
And while this is highly unlikely to happen to you, there is no shortage of money fetching baseball cards out there for you to buy and flip.
With this said, my favorite places to find cheap baseball cards to flip include:
eBay or Facebook Marketplace
Estate sales/garage sales
Conventions and memorabilia shows
1. eBay or Facebook Marketplace
eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and other online marketplaces are likely to be your best option.
You will want to be careful if you're buying unrated cards, since pictures and visual appearances of them can be easily altered or made to look like they are in better condition than they are in reality.
To minimize this risk, you should only buy from sellers with a documented history and solid reviews.
2. Garage and estate sales
Garage sales are common on Saturdays across the country, and they just may be your best opportunity to find some great cards to sell. Oftentimes, homeowners don't sort through their inventories and decide to just get rid of what they have as quickly as possible.
This could lead to one of two different possibilities. First, you may need to buy a bundle of cards and see if you find anything of value in there. To sway those odds in your favor, you should only consider bundles of cards in good or great condition. This means looking for things like bent corners, stains, and other imperfections.
The other possibility you have is buying individual cards or packs. In this case, you'll want to have an idea of what to look for. More on this in a minute.
3. Thrift stores
In recent years, thrift stores have also proven to be a legitimate source of inventory for baseball card flippers.
It can be somewhat more difficult to find deals in stores, but it is not impossible. Stores tend to get new inventory in regularly. Plus, being able to pick up individual cards or packs of cards before you purchase them gives you a better opportunity to truly assess the quality of them.
4. Conventions and memorabilia shows
There is an old adage that any asset you own is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. And the best way to find this out is to attend memorabilia shows or conventions in your area.
Before you go, it can be a good idea to make a list of cards that you're interested in, along with their fair market values.
This will help you to identify undervalued opportunities right in front of you.
How to know what baseball cards are valuable
In your search to flip undervalued cards, there are a number of trends that you can use to help you determine whether a card may be worth your time and money to flip or not. But ultimately, the value of any card comes down to a few main factors, including:
Condition and grading: There are a couple of professional grading companies like PSA and Beckett that will rate the quality and condition of cards that you send to them. Cards that are rated highly (PSA grades 9 or 10) will command higher prices. The best condition cards will have sharp unbent corners, bright colors, and minimal/no wear and tear.
Rarity and scarcity: The rarer the card, the more valuable, thanks to the forces of supply and demand. As time goes on, cards from past years tent to increase in value, as others are damaged, lost, or discarded.
Player significance: Another rule of thumb is that the baseball cards of better players command higher rates. This means that historically significant players, Hall of Famers, or those that are famous for other reasons tend to have cards of value. Another approach used by a lot of flippers is to collect rookie cards of players. Then, if they are considered rising stars, or once those players become All Stars or Hall of Famers, these cards become far more valuable.
These three factors can help you in your analysis, but ultimately, I recommend that you use other tools at your disposal to help. Two of the best are past sales price data and current trending.
1. Past sales price data
Similar to real estate listings, many flippers don't realize that they may be able to use past sales data to help them understand what a card may be worth. Once you identify card prices within your range, you can begin to search for these cards at discounted values. You can oftentimes find these deals from sellers that are unaware as to how valuable their cards may really be.
Remember to look for cards with matching conditions, though, as prices can vary widely.
2. Current trending
For a whole host of reasons, baseball cards may temporarily experience huge increases in value. This could be due to pop culture, like if a movie is made about a player, for example. But there are other factors at play here, like:
Historical significance like home run or pitching records
World Series wins
But keep in mind that it is impossible to predict how long these trends may last. So, if you're going to try to capitalize, you'll want to move as quickly as possible.
Where to sell your baseball cards
You have seemingly endless options when it comes to selling your baseball cards, but there are a number of strategies that tend to stick out above the rest, including:
Flipping on eBay
Dave & Adam's
Local shops in your area
1. Flipping on eBay
Selling cards on eBay is the most popular option out there, though it comes with its own unique pros and cons. For example, you can potentially get your listings in front of tens of thousands of interested buyers almost immediately (a pro).
But for this, eBay does assess hefty seller fees to the tune of 13.25% for cards up to $7,500 in value. Cards in excess of this value will face an additional 2.35% in fees on the remaining balance.
2. Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace is another good option for selling baseball cards to those in your area. While you're unlikely to find as many interested buyers in your immediate area, it can still be a great approach that will help you to avoid eBay's costly fees and commissions.
Plus, you're more likely to be able to take potentially costly shipping fees out of the equation.
Baseball card flipping isn't just a side hustle: it can be fun too! The thrill of the hunt, combined with the possibility to make good money, is enough to entice many sports fans to give card flipping a try.
Would you ever consider giving card flipping a try? Or is it not for you?
Tell me in the comments below!
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