Sunday, February 20, 2011

Going Through 1000's of Commons

One of many things you need to do when running an online card store is to get cards into inventory. Seems obvious but when you deal with modern commons like I do it can be quite a challenge (probably why most dealers don't bother). The main challenge at the start is trying to keep up with the new stuff and back fill the past years at the same time. I've adopted a method of alternating between the two.

This week I completed adding 2011 Topps baseball cards along with the inserts to my online inventory. So over the last 2 days I decided to finish adding the 2001 Topps baseball cards I had in stock. This is a project I've attempted a few times and is a perfect example of what this business can be like.

I bought the inventory of a dealer who went out of business a couple of years back and I have literally a few hundred thousand cards to sort through. It sounds like a blast and in some ways it is. When I first got the cards I sorted through them and put them in rough order by sport, brand, and year. (That was a blast!) Now, when I want to add something to inventory I have to put the cards in numerical order and grade them. That's the hard part.

I initially pulled about 2,500 Topps baseball cards out of storage for the year 2001. I sat down and started inspecting each card and unfortunately I found small dings on the corners of many cards or minor scuff marks on the face of the cards. It took me countless hours to inspect each card, of which I probably rejected over 70% of the cards. It's painful when you have 9 cards of one player and you decide none meet your strict requirements to list online. The reason I do this though is that people ordering common cards online don't have the luxury of inspecting each card for themselves so I have to provide a service they can trust.

Once I finished with those cards I found a second group of 2001 Topps baseball cards in another box. The good news was there were only about 300 cards and I could tell these were from a set break of Series I. I could tell this because there was only 1 of each card and the numbing stopped at 400. In addition, almost every card met my requirements for listing. This set was a lot easier to work with.

I guess the logical question is (when dealing with modern cards) whether it's better to buy large collections which are cheaper but more labor intensive or to buy sets which are more expensive and less labor intensive. I'm not sure yet if I have an answer, I bought the large accumulation but I'm also picking up bargain sets when I find them at shows. I'll keep you posted on how it works out.

Oh yea, one note about the large accumulations; there was a stack of 2006 Donruss Elite football cards in the second box of cards from which I pulled the 2001 Topps. Naturally, for fun, I sifted through it and found an Aaron Rodgers rookie card. I guess that's a vote for buying the accumulations! Not an expensive card but a fun one to find among commons.

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