StarStock solves three huge problems for the sports card hobby and market overall. Since I wrote my book in April 2021, the largest card grading companies PSA and BGS have shutdown their economy services and aren't accepting any new submissions until further notice.
1. The "Un-graded Problem."
Among other things, this has left a HUGE gap into the hobby that I thought I re-entered.
Not being able to have cards graded is a huge problem. Why?
One word: Objectivity.
Objectivity is gone. When cards are ungraded, everything is subjective.
Worse yet, all ungraded cards have the same value in the market. This is obviously a false ideal because there's no way all cards are printed and handled equal. One person thinks a card is "pack fresh and a sure PSA 10," and 9 other people think that same card is 9 different descriptions and grades, yet it's always priced and sold for the same price.
This is just as bad for the ceiling as it is for the floor. There's no trust and no upside.
In my book, I mentioned the following ways to sell your cards, and they're all still legit, but there's one new favorite I've stumbled upon, called StarStock.
StarStock is explained in this video, and it's a mix of all the services mentioned below, including COMC.com which wasn't mentioned in my book either, but is essentially the same as PWCC - mentioned below.
StarStock also solves the ungraded problem. They will ingest your graded or non-graded cards and grade them for you. They've created "StarStock A, B and C" tiers of grading. And even though they're not slabbed, they have a completely different market value, which is all that's needed - for now.
2. StarStock prevents any kind of scams.
3. StarStock eliminates the need for storing, shipping and receiving.
With that context updated, you can now read the following passage from my book and it will make sense! ...
You’re likely wondering, “Paul, does it really have to be graded in order for me to sell it?” While the answer to that question technically is “no,” the case for grading it is substantial. Imagine watching Antiques Roadshow without the dude from Sotheby’s appraising the items. They’d be just old crap with highly debatable value.
Ungraded cards will not sell for much money, because the condition is always unknown to the buyer. Slabbed cards have locked in value, based on the aforementioned eBay comps. This undebatable value, reduces haggling and BS.
Quick unrelated story you may appreciate: while my wife and I were out at dinner with another married couple, (good friends) a few years ago, the check comes and the husband says to me, “yo Paul, you wanna do this the dude’s way or the women’s way?” I sort of laugh, waiting for his punchline, to which he says: “Dude’s way = split the tab down the middle. Womens’ way = itemize the bill and sum up each couple’s total.” Even the wives were cracking up at that one. Funny because it’s true.
The clear answer, without being sexist, is DUDE’S WAY. It’s just not practical to sit there and say “Paul ate the corner of that jalapeño popper, so he owes less than Marsha, who ate the rest of that popper.” You’d NEVER get to the end of the bill.
Point being...trying to sell ungraded cards will be a version of the “Women’s way” outlined in this story. It will go like this. “Weeelllll, that upper corner looks a little nicked and what are those lines on the card?” to which you’ll reply: “those lines aren’t on the CARD! They’re on the CASE!” … this annoying process will repeat itself.
This is the last time I’ll say it. If you’re at all leaning towards Path 1, just get your cards graded, man. You’re in it for life. If you really want to sell ungraded cards, make them your lowest profit margin cards from your spreadsheet, and be ready to get back piggybank change in return.
Even if you’re leaning towards Path 2, it will be worth getting your cards graded, which is why the 12-month timeline applies to either choice.
Okay, enough stories. Back to the tangible tips.
Whether selling ungraded cards, graded cards by any company, or sealed wax, you’ll want to take really nice pictures of each item for sale, and decide where to list them.
eBay - While the most popular place is eBay, it’s not your only option. I learned early on that setting up an eBay Seller account isn’t as easy as it seems. I followed the process; registered as a buyer, created a seller account, and connected my PayPal account, which is required to receive and make payments on eBay. Right away, for no apparent reason, my account was banned. No explanation, no support, nothing. I created another eBay account with another email address. The same thing happened. Already I’m thinking “What the Fuck?” I’m an upstanding citizen, businessman; with no intention of scamming anyone. I can’t even BUY anything on eBay?
Then, a few weeks later, I created another eBay account with a different email address and hooked it up to a different PayPal account. It all worked. I could buy items for a few weeks. I bought some cards, paid for all of them. No problem.
Then, I tried to list an item for sale. BANNED AGAIN. Whole account banned. Can’t buy; can’t sell on eBay.
This happens with eBay. Seriously. I don’t know why they chose me, but I know I’m not the only one.
So the bad news for me, is that I can’t take advantage of the ridiculous amount of eyeballs eBay gets from interested buyers, nor the SEO for Sports Card specific keywords that eBay dominates for, but the silver lining is that I’ve learned so much about Facebook Marketplace, Etsy and a service called PWCC that you’re getting more value out of this book than you ever would have if I was never banned from eBay!
Facebook Marketplace - You’re thinking of FBM as a place to sell your old furniture and shit, but there’s a TON of Sports Card transactions happening there. Just do a quick keyword search on the marketplace tab. Type in “PSA,” “Panini” or “Michael Jordan Cards.” Shit, type in “Ansu Fati cards” (there’s at least one of him, and you don’t even know who he is - but you should!). Facebook Marketplace works as a place to sell your Sports Cards for a few key reasons, none of which are features that eBay can offer.
First of all, you can join an unlimited number of Facebook Groups related to listing your Sports Cards for sale. You then can cross post the listings into a number of those Facebook Groups so they show in Marketplace searches, as well as in the feeds of your Facebook Groups. This is free awareness. Like, free awareness to thousands of people who want to buy Sports Cards now.
Secondly, Facebook Marketplace allows you to create a connection with your customer. eBay strictly prohibits it, and bans / punishes sellers for trying to go off-platform, while Facebook Marketplace encourages it, with a phenomenal integration between Facebook Messenger and Marketplace. You and your customers can message each other, and the messages stay organized by each listing. When you think about it, this is actually any eCommerce merchant’s dream scenario. You get to list an item for free. Your customers can message you. You can message them back. Build a relationship. Make sales.
Lastly, to the making sales part. Another awesome feature to Facebook Marketplace that doesn’t exist within eBay is the ability for the seller to choose the transaction platform. eBay requires PayPal, while FBM essentially allows the seller to do any of the following: Cash in person, PayPal, Venmo, Cash app, third party Shopify or WooCommerce site (this is what I do at NoOffseason.com), or anything else the buyer/seller can agree on. This is because most FBM transactions actually DON’T HAPPEN on FBM. They happen on PayPal, Venmo, etc.
It’s easier explained if I pretend I’m the buyer for a moment. So I see a listing I want to buy, right?
Then, MOST communications work this way: I can message the seller from the FBM listing and ask any questions about the item, etc. Once we agree on price, we discuss payment method.
The best one that protects both parties is PayPal Goods and Services. This is different from sending a friend money. I’ll explain. So let’s say the seller and I agree I’m going to pay $60 for a sealed Panini Donruss Basketball 2020-21 box with 8 packs inside. I don’t want to pay sales tax on this item because my shipping address is in Tennessee, which has a ridiculously high sales tax. I also don’t want to pay shipping, because I think the seller has priced the item about $5-10 too high. So our negotiations land at a total of $60 “all in” for me via PayPal Goods and Services. This means that the seller has to pay PayPal a small fee to protect both of us, since we don’t know each other.
After building a relationship with some people on FBM, you can “send money to someone you trust / someone you know” on PayPal, which allows the seller to avoid a fee, and the buyer to possibly get a deal as a result, but it leaves only the buyer open to getting screwed. So make sure if you’re buying, that you actually know and trust the person you’re paying.
Anyway, to complete the transaction, all that needs to happen is the seller sends the buyer their PayPal email address (you will do this if/when you’re selling your cards on FBM), and the buyer logs into PayPal, sends money to the seller, and requests the USPS tracking number.
The seller typically immediately confirms payment has been made, and sends the tracking number as soon as the item is shipped. I’ve performed dozens of transactions a month this way for several months and have never had any issues.
Now, for some sellers, you’ll see a BUY NOW and / or a MAKE AN OFFER button. This is cool, because it provides a straightforward way of buying an item that’s listed, with less communication required via Facebook Messenger.
However, you can still use Messenger if you want - for any reason. As a buyer, if I proceed clicking BUY NOW or MAKE AN OFFER on a listing that has those features, I can follow the process of paying with any major credit card. In this case, Facebook Pay protects the seller and I, not PayPal, but I do have to pay Shipping and Sales Tax in addition to the item’s listed fee. As a new seller, plan for not having the Facebook Pay option (with BUY NOW or MAKE AN OFFER buttons) available to you right away, as FBM only gives certain accounts that capability.
All in all, I’ve had nothing but an amazing experience on Facebook Marketplace as both a buyer and seller.
Etsy - I know what you’re thinking, Etsy is only for handmade items like arts and crafts, right? Think again. Sports Cards are DOMINATING. Just search Etsy for Sports Cards. As a seller, it takes less than five minutes to set up a store on Etsy, list your items and start selling. You can also message your customers and build a relationship with them unlike on eBay. People reading this book that are avid eBay sellers will rip on me for my love of FBM and Etsy, arguing that your packaging of each item on eBay allows you to develop a relationship with customers, but that’s bullshit. eBay is on your ass, and eBay buyers do not care who they buy from. FBM and Etsy have a bit of a built-in culture to communicate between seller and buyer to build relationships and make off-platform transactions.
FBM and Etsy don’t have the eBay auction feature, but who gives a shit about that, right? You just want the Buy Now capability anyway so that your item doesn’t get underbid and sold for way less than you wanted.
Am I bitter about getting banned from eBay? Maybe. 🙂
PWCC - Remember how I was banned from eBay? Well, really, I can still sell there. Here’s how. PWCC is one of the smartest business ideas I’ve seen in recent memory. Visit www.pwccmarketplace.com and read more, but the overview is this. You can sign up for free, and get a vault. A real vault in Oregon, to store your graded cards and sealed wax. You send them to PWCC and they store your cards in your own vault, and take pictures of your items, load them into their app, and give you access to see your items within your vault via their app.
At this point you’ve spent a few dollars shipping them your items, and they’ve taken a few weeks receiving them, organizing them, taking amazing photos of them, and giving you access to their app so you can see your prized possessions. Then, from their app, at any time, you can instruct PWCC to either list one of your items for sale on eBay, or via an auction on the PWCC Marketplace. The downside is that you pay a fee for both storing your items in the vault as well as listing your items, but the upside is that PWCC items typically garner more gross profit than other items on eBay due to their ridiculously bloated seller profile and trustworthiness factor. They’re almost like a realtor for selling your cards. They reach a wider audience, increase the overall gross profit, but of course, take a commission.
Another cool thing about PWCC is that they’ll actually loan money to you against the value of your cards, the way that banks will loan you money against the value of your business or your credit score. Seriously. The card market is that big and isn’t going anywhere. More on this at www.pwccmarketplace.com/capital
So, while eBay might be your go-to initially, it’s not your only option, especially if you want to be in the game long term. I’d highly recommend building up your own personal brand related to selling cards, and not rely on any single platform’s “rating” of you.
Paul Hickey is a Digital Creator, spending about about 60% of his work time building WordPress websites for small businesses, 20% of his work time running an eCommerce Sports Cards and Digital Collectibles business at NoOffseason.com and another 20% of his work time authoring books and creating digital art in the form of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).
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