Monday, August 29, 2011

What would you do different?

One of the topics I wanted write about in this blog is what it's like running an online card store. The bad news is, I haven't written much on that topic or any other topic lately. The good news is, business has been picking up so I've been busy filling orders and trying to get new inventory online to meet customer requests. The hurricane we had on the east coast this weekend forced me to stay inside so I was able to dedicate some time to the other parts of running the business like updating my store software, adding new videos to my youtube channel, and writing a blog entry.

When running an online card store, or any business for that matter, you have to make a ton of decisions about how to run your company. These decisions range from something as large as, 'What business model are you going to create?' To something as small as 'Should you use scotch tape or painter's tape to seal the cards in top loaders?' The general business model at Sandlot Cards is pretty simple; list single cards online to help people build their player collections and sets, provide quality service, and attempt to create a 'Mom and Pop' type feel to our store, even though it is an internet only business. Now that we are well into our second year of business I've been reflecting on what, if anything, I would change in that model. 'Are you going to sell unopened material?' is a popular question we've received from our customers. I suppose that would be a simplier business model and might provide more income but it's not something I plan to pursue right away. However, that's looking forward, my intent with this blog entry is to look back and ask myself the question, 'What would you have done differently?'

If you look at my website you'll notice I have categories for all the major sports along with categories for each year within the sports. Before I went live with my website I purchased a large number of cards in all major sports from a dealer who was going out of business. My intent was to backfill my invetory with those cards and add new product as it came out. As time goes, I find it diffucult to keep up with all the new product coming out and at the same time to keep backfilling my inventory. Does that mean I regret the decision to cover all 4 sports? No. I don't think there are enough dealers out there that support sports outside of baseball. When was the last time you saw a dealer with basketball cards numerically sorted by set/year at a card show? Heck, when was the last time you saw any dealer outside a major show with numerically sorted cards from the 80's or 90's, or even two years ago!

So, is there something I would have done differently? Yes. I think my approach to backfilling my inventory was too optimistic. I don't think I would have purchased the inventory of the shop that was going out of business. Instead, my approach to backfilling my inventory should have been to buy sets and break them up. The simple reason being, it takes too much labor and time to sort through 5000 count boxes and weed out the cards with very minor dinged corners or centering issues. Even though the monetary cost is higher, it makes more sense from a time and labor perspective to purchase complete sets and break them up. I can't say I totally regret buying that inventory though, the kid in me has a blast every time I open one of those 5000ct.boxes inside.and get to sort through all the random cards inside.