Scavenger Life Episode 505: Best Laid Plans

3/7/21 – 3/13/21

Total items in store: 2330

Items sold: 65

Gross sales: $3751.23 (up 98.5% from last week & 122.7% from this week last year)

Net sales: $2713.97 (up 112.6% from last week & 140.8% from this week last year)

Highest price sold: $222.49 (A copper rookie card numbered to 49 from the popular Panini Select set of Tennessee Titans star running back Derrick Henry)

Lowest price sold: $9.88 (two different authenticated autographs of old-time Dodgers and Giants ballplayers from back in the 50s and 60s — both to the same buyer)

I have been doing eBay off and on (but mostly on) for close to ten years now and full-time (in hours if not income) for close to four years. I have had occasional weeks with sales numbers like this (and a few higher due to one-off very expensive items) but this week was consistent in a way that felt unusual. Every day had sales over $100 and three days (Sunday, Tuesday & Saturday) were over $500.

I feel like 65 to 75 sales in a week is probably the upper limit as far as a “reasonable” workload for a one-person, or two-person, business. But maybe it’s higher. I have a lot of inefficiencies that could improve my process, like getting a label printer instead of hand cutting each label one by one. (I know, I know…just get a Dymo already…but I hate buying things at full price!)

I had 10 sales this week of $100+ and 10 sales in the $75-$100 range. I have been working hard over the last year to spend more on high quality inventory since it takes the same amount of time to list an item for $20 as it does for $100 or more. Fortunately, with modern sports cards there are tens of thousands of auction listings every night, so it’s a matter of finding the right stuff and then winning the auctions. Of course, both these things are easier said than done!

I noticed this week that a lot of the items sold, especially the higher dollar sales, fall into one of two categories.

1. Cards that were purchased individually at auction anywhere from a month to a year (or more) ago and the “value” of the card has increased or decreased since.

For example, I sold an autographed rookie card of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who was in the news this week because the team signed him to a massive contract. I originally purchased the card this past fall, around the time Prescott had an unfortunate injury which caused him to miss the remainder of the Cowboys season. The team played terribly without him, and predictably his (and most players on the team) prices went down. Then interest in Prescott cards went back up this week upon news of the massive contract.

2. Cards that were purchased as a part of a lot, or poorly listed/titled in some way.

For example, the Derrick Henry card (my highest $$ sale above) was purchased at auction on a very small, niche collectors site that only has a few hundred auctions running total at any given time. I’m not sure why anyone lists an auction outside of eBay when the pool of buyers is exponentially bigger on eBay, but a lot of card sellers and collectors only use Facebook Marketplace or collector’s message boards or Instagram and harbor a hatred towards feeBay because of the one time where they had a case decided against them or a Paypal hold against them or something. I’m sure you know the type. I like eBay, so I use eBay.

But different platforms draw different types of collectors and if you’re a smart buyer (or seller), you can use those discrepancies to your favor. In the case of the Derrick Henry card, the seller’s title (when I originally bought it) didn’t include a lot of information that modern card buyers value: primarily the set name (Panini Select), the ‘features’ of the card (a copper prizm rookie card, or RC) and its serial numbering (which is basically how companies have “created” scarcity and perceived value in pieces of cardboard). I can still remember first seeing the auction listing for the card and realizing I might get it for a great price. And I did!

Now a few months later, my eBay buyer purchased the card for around the same price as other completed sales (maybe even a bit lower!). They could have found the same card (or a similar one) like I did if they spent a long time hunting for an auction that’s poorly titled, or trawling through every weird site, but sometimes as a buyer you want something right now and you don’t want to go through all those hoops. That’s where I like to think I ‘add value’ as a seller. That and my meticulous packaging!

I hope the buyer makes a lot of money on the card next season (and they might, if the value of Henry’s cards increase like they have during his last 2 excellent seasons), but I’m always happy to sell now and move on to the next purchase. The only way that all of this is sustainable is by putting in the work week in and week out.

This post was originally published on this site