Scavenger Life Episode 507: The Professionalization of Online Selling

https://archive.org/download/scavengerlife_podcast_episode507/scavengerlife_podcast_episode507.mp3

3/21/21 – 3/27/21

Total items in store: 2275

Items sold: 58

Gross sales: $2766.48 (up 146.7% from one year ago)

Net sales: $1931.96 (up 138.3% from one year ago)

Highest price sold (net): $132.64 — an autographed hat button rookie card of former Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins, now on the Pittsburgh Steelers, from Panini’s expensive National Treasures set

Lowest price sold (net): $3.53 — another rookie card of Australian NBA player Joe Ingles — $8 best offer going all the way to Australia (I paid just over $1 for the card so technically it’s profit but yikes)

This week felt slow throughout, and that culminated in an extremely slow weekend this past Friday/Saturday/Sunday — typically I have 25-30 packages to bring to the post office on a Monday, but this week I only had a dozen. I’m not even a little upset about it — this last year has been so tremendous for me, but also a ton of work. This weekend had to be my first in months with less than 20 packages to do, so it almost felt like a break. I’m eager to take a true break in a month or two once I’m vaccinated and have gotten through some of my many unlisted boxes of cards.

Tracking these numbers has been so useful to me, not only to give me kind of a feel from week to week but also to help me notice trends. For example, as much as it makes me somewhat happy that I can package up a basketball card of an obscure player in New Jersey and send it in a padded yellow envelope which makes it all the way to Australia in a few short weeks, I either need to raise my shipping rate to Australia (which is already $15) or, more realistically, never take an offer below $10 on an international package.

One other note (why not) on the high priced sale. Here is my listing in case anyone’s curious what a $100+ modern football card looks like. A couple tidbits about the card, and type of card, in particular.

First is that the player on the card, Dwayne Haskins was a first-round quarterback picked a mere two years ago (so he’s quite young) but is not off to the best start to his career. In fact, he’s already been released by his original team and signed on with a new one for a much lesser contract. This was all because of his own boneheaded mistakes, the types most young people make but obviously there is a bigger microscope when you’re a pro athlete. Haskins broke Covid protocols a few times and made some incredibly poor plays. Maybe he could have gotten away with one or the other, but with both issues, the team was so frustrated that they actually released him midseason, quite rare in football and especially for young quarterbacks. Haskins is a backup on his new team, which has already said they’ll give him a chance but expect that he makes no mistakes. So he’s a young player with some potential (higher prices on his cards) but has by no means shown the most potential (so lower than same-age players who are succeeding) and probably one mistake away from being cut again (lower prices still since he’s on a short leash). In a year, the card could be worth significantly more (if Haskins has gotten a chance with his new team and is flourishing), about the same (if he hasn’t played much) or significantly less (if he has made more boneheaded mistakes and his new team parts ways with him). That’s too much volatility for my taste.

Part of why this card was so expensive is the set it’s from, National Treasures, which in 2019 ran over $1000 per 4 card box. This year’s National Treasures set was even more expensive and next year there are expected to be quarterbacks taken with the #1, #2, #3 and #4 picks in the draft for the first time in NFL history, and prices will go up accordingly. Despite the hefty price tag, many of the cards from these boxes are regular autographs or jersey cards which regularly sell for $20 each or less. A hat button card is one of the “nicer” and lower numbered inserts, and if the player were more successful than Haskins it would sell for multiple hundreds, potentially thousands if the player is a real star. While the Haskins card is a nice one, it’s by no means the most unique or interesting card in the set — for example, this booklet card (not my listing) with jersey swatches from about 25 rookies or this cut signature card (also not my listing) of Fred Rogers, yes the TV presenter who was everyone’s favorite neighbor.

Last, the Haskins card was actually damaged in multiple places even though it’s just a few years old. I bought it that way, from an eBay auction a few months prior when Haskins’s card values were at their lowest, right after Haskins had been released from his first team and while he was still looking for a team to take a chance on him. The most noticeable damage happened primarily because of the card’s thickness — at some point as it bounced from place to place before it ended up (temporarily) in my ownership, it developed a slight tear beneath the button inset. I disclosed that tear, along with the card’s other flaws, in multiple places in my listing and waited for the right buyer to come along who wanted the card despite its imperfections. This level of damage makes the card practically worthless to some collectors, but my experience is that not every collector is out for a card in gem perfect condition, even if a lot of people involved in the sports card bubble will focus on grading and condition. I sell a few graded cards every week, and I understand the appeal of them. But mostly I sell imperfect, ungraded modern cards that are unique or interesting in some way, and I try to make an honest listing with good pictures and package them like they are special to me since they’re certainly special to the buyer. (knock on wood) that’s worked well for me for a few years now.

I spent more time taking photos than listing this week (nice to have that luxury) but I’m looking forward to getting some listings done tomorrow or Wednesday while listening to the podcast. Happy start of the new quarter, everyone. I hope you all have a great week of sales with buyers spending all their eBay bucks in your store.

This post was originally published on this site