A Beginner’s Guide to Selling Sports Cards on COMC
As a collector, I don't sell all that often. It seems that, much to the chagrin of my wife and the shrinking space in my house, I'd rather tuck cards away in boxes for years (and decades). Honestly, I don't even think about them. Sounds like a good time to clear some space and sell some cards.
I used to sell on eBay on occasion a while back. But fees, inconvenience, time and a seemingly growing number of scammers out there have deterred me. It's at the point that, except for extreme circumstances, it's not worth it to me as a (very) casual seller.
After seeing a deal on listings on their blog, I opted to give COMC a try. I've been using the site to fill in holes in my sets and Expos collection for years. But I'd never given it much thought to try the other side. These are my own personal experiences with selling on the site thus far.
What to Sell on COMC
As much as I would like to send in all of my extra cards, that's not going to happen at this point. Even with the promotional rate I had as part of a limited time offer for Canadians, it could still add up in a hurry.
Plus, this was my first time using the service as a seller, so going all in would be overwhelming.
Instead I aimed to get together 500 cards that I wouldn't miss. The goal was to move those and use the credit to get one really nice card I normally wouldn't be able to afford. The option is there to withdraw the funds, but there are added fees and that doesn't appeal to me.
When going through and choosing, I reflected back on what I had used COMC for most as a buyer. I found it most helpful when I was able to track down oddball cards and inserts that might not be totally rare but just don't show up that often.
I took the same approach to my first batch of cards to sell. Through my years of collecting John Jaha I have amassed several team sets from promotional giveaways and local Brewers Police sets. Although I was only looking for the one card, a decade ago it was easier just to get the full set. That left perfect fodder for breaking up and selling.
The vast majority of what I sent in was of things that I wouldn't have much competition with as far as other sellers. From these oddball cards to O-Pee-Chee Baseball (a perk of being a Canadian) and even some O-Pee-Chee Basketball (they exist), that initial shipment had a lot that I figured would target player and team collectors like myself.
I also went through more than a decade's worth of plain jersey cards and purged. Today, these don't get me excited except when it's a player I like. And even then, the concept of a player-worn jersey from an photoshoot bores me. The purge not only freed up a lot of space in some of my monster boxes but there were enough that even if I averaged a couple of dollars each, I'd be on my way to a slightly off-grade Michael Jordan rookie card or a decent Wayne Gretzky autograph.
Getting Cards Ready
When I'd finished going through and picking out what to send in, I had wrangled up about 550 cards. In the grand scheme, that's not a lot, but it's a start. The next step was to prep the cards to send in.
I took the overkill approach, strictly for my own peace of mind.
I could have simply packaged the cards up, added the small bit of paperwork and left it at that. But not having used COMC to sell before I was understandably nervous. What if something went wrong? What if the cards went missing between my post office and COMC headquarters? What if one of the few high-end cards I sent in got lost?
One of the nice things about selling cards on COMC is that you don't have to list what you're sending in. They take care of it all. But like any human-run business, mistakes can happen.
Although unnecessary and a little time-consuming, I took the added step of making a basic spread sheet of what I was sending in. This way, if the postal system lost it, I knew exactly what to claim. Or if a card wasn't listed for some reason, I'd know. This added some time, but it was worth it.
Now it was time to box things up.
I made sure everything was in a penny sleeve. Shipping in top loaders costs extra so those were left out.
COMC's submission wizard was simple. Fill in a bit of information, give an estimate of how many cards you're sending and print off the packing slip. That's it. I also found this video from their site to be helpful and made me feel better. Honestly, it seemed too easy and I thought I was missing something.
I wasn't sure if it was better to send one long box or break my cards up into several smaller boxes and pack those into a larger one. I opted for the latter. The cards first went into a few 330-count boxes. I packaged them as I normally might, careful to put some paper around the inside edges to prevent dings as the cards could shift and bang during shipment. Those 330-count boxes were then put into one bigger shoebox where they fit perfectly.
Off to the post office I went and the cards were on their way. Sticking with the peace of mind theme, I ponied up and got the tracking. When I got home, I then entered the tracking details into COMC's system. Like everything else to do with dealing with the site so far for selling, it took a few brief moments and wasn't hard.
Listing and Pricing
The particular promotion I took advantage of said that it could take up to two months for my cards to get listed. That was fine. I'd been sitting on many of them for years. I wasn't in a rush.
Within a couple of days of COMC receiving my cards, the first few started getting listed. I wasn't sure if all would show up at once or if it would be in batches. It has been something of a slow trickle.
This works for me as I haven't had to spend hours pricing my cards to sell. Rather it was a few minutes here and there.
The promotion I used cost $0.20 per card. For that, each card was identified, scanned in and entered into their system. Even without the sale, the regular selling rates ($0.25 for a basic card that's listed for less than $50) seem more than fair. Scanning cards takes up a lot of my time normally. I had to do none of that here.
One of the nice things I've found about selling sports cards on COMC is that I pick the price. Seeing as how these are all extras, I took a somewhat aggressive approach. In most instances, if others had the same card listed as me, I'd undercut them ever so slightly. Jerk move? Maybe. But that's the nature of a free market. I'm there to sell cards and if you're not the cheapest, you're going to have a hard time moving anything unless it's of a hot player.
When you're listing, COMC shows if other cards are listed and at what price. You can also quickly check historical sales data by clicking on the graph icon. Both of these were helpful to me and made it easy.
In instances where there was no data available, I did a quick search of eBay sales to get in the ballpark. When that didn't give any results, I'll be honest -- I made prices up to see where they went.
For cards where I had no competition, I went a little higher. As a player collector myself, I have always been willing to pay a little extra for what I need, especially if it's convenient. Potential buyers can also make offers if you enable that option so it makes little sense to go too low.
There are also fees to take into account. It makes no sense to sell a card for less than your listing fee. On the other end, COMC charges buyers $0.25 when they buy a card. This is built into the price you see on the site. But it's important because if you want to list a card for $5, you actually need to price it as $4.75. When that card sells, you get the $4.75 and COMC gets the $0.25.
The actual entering of the prices is, like everything else I've encountered, simple. COMC notifies me there's things ready to list, I log in and start typing in what I want. If there's a batch of a few cards, you enter the price, hit ENTER on the keyboard and it takes you to the next card.
Like a lot of COMC sellers, I'm playing a long game with my cards. I'm expecting it to take months for many of these cards to sell. But if things take too long, I'm going to have to pay. After 90 days, there's a $0.01 per month storage fee for every card. With the amount I've got, this isn't a big deal. But it's still something to consider pricing things.
Wheeling, Dealing and Annoying Low-Ball Offers
It didn't take long once my first batches of cards were listed for the offers to start coming in. And it didn't take long to realize that there are buyers on COMC that are counting every single penny.
When you sell on the site, you can choose to accept offers. Like eBay, you can have them set to automatically decline if they're too low or auto-accept if they're high enough.
Trying to price my things somewhat aggressively, I want to see as many offers as possible. It doesn't mean I'm going to accept them, but I'll certainly consider them. Those that are reasonable, I've been able to strike deals with quickly.
But if you're going to accept offers, be prepared to be annoyed. Case in point, I had someone offer me $4.88 for a card, exactly half of what I was asking for an autograph. I'd based my price on a recent eBay sale. I countered with $8, a couple dollars off what already seemed to be a seemingly reasonable price. Their counter to that? $5, a whopping $0.12 up from their original offer. I declined to negotiate further at that point.
There have been a couple of other instances like that. But I've also made some sales based on fair offers, sales I probably wouldn't have made if I had the offers option turned off or set higher.
At this point, I have made some sales. They seem to come in bursts and then slow down. I think my approach has been the right one too. The sale of a Brewers Police Angel Miranda proved that there's a collector out there for just about anything.
I'm still a long way from amassing enough to get that one sweet card but that's part of the long game. So far, the simplicity has been what has stood out the most. It really has been a matter of picking cards out, packing them up, shipping them out and a little bit pricing and negotiating.
Related Topics: How To: Selling