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Flip Cards For Cash: Expert Strategies For Selling At Card Shows

Get Expert Tips To Setting Up A Table And Selling For Profit

Updated Mar 01, 2024

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Sports card shows are premier venues for reselling and flipping your cards.

The availability of shows varies by city, with several events each weekend and a few larger ones throughout the year.

Developing effective strategies for flipping cards at these shows can lead to significant profits.

This guide will explore techniques to enhance your profitability when setting up a table to sell your cards at a local card show.

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Building Your Inventory

Firstly, establishing a diverse card inventory is essential for setting up at a card show.

It's advisable to purchase a range of items from low to high-end, ideally with an initial investment of $2,500 to $5,000.

Platforms such as eBay, MySlabs.com, Facebook Groups, Blowout Forums, Net54, auction house websites, card shops, Alt, Twitter, and other card shows are valuable for finding the best deals.

myslabs

MySlabs.com is a good option for finding graded inventory.

For those new to buying, eBay's completed auction sales and Alt sales data for graded cards are reliable for assessing card values.

Alt sales data for graded cards and 130point.com is excellent for getting the actual selling price for an accepted eBay best offer listing.

130point

130Point.com is a good source for checking the actual final sales price on an eBay best offer listing that sold for a best offer price. 

When building your inventory, include a variety of items, from lower-end slabs ($10 to $50) to mid-tier and high-end cards, ensuring even ungraded items are in excellent condition.

Buying collections or lots requires detailed evaluation to determine the individual value of each card. 

Strategizing Your Buys

Creating a target list or focusing on specific types of cards can help narrow your search and maximize profits.

For example, targeting first-year Bowman Chrome Autos graded PSA 10s right after the baseball season (when prices are low) can be a strategic move.

bowman-chrome-arias-psa-10

Additionally, investing in vintage cards or Hall of Famers rookie cards can differentiate your offerings at shows.

For example, many local card shows have a limited supply of early tobacco (i.e., T206) or early candy and gum (such as American Caramel, Goudey) cards, so having a collection of high-quality early 1900s HOF cards can be a significant differentiator.

mattyt206

A nice T206 Mathewson portrait could be a centerpiece of a vintage card show table.

When buying vintage cards to set up at card shows, try to find deals using the various buying platforms above. 

Tracking Inventory

Developing a system to track purchases and sales is crucial. Using an Excel or Google spreadsheet to record each transaction helps you monitor profitability and manage your inventory effectively.

At the card show, write down what you sold so you can update your tracking inventory sheet later. The inventory tracker will also allow you to analyze which purchases were the most profitable.

Here's an example of my tracker from 2023 on a few examples of bought/sold items and the profit.

card-tracking

If you would like access to a Google Sheets version, this inventory tracker, you can gain access here.  Be sure to make a copy first!

Selling Your Cards

Experience from attending and setting up at various shows has taught me the importance of pricing strategy. 

Side note, need to give a shoutout to a local Massachusetts show promoter, Doug, who runs two great shows on the South Shore - in Dedham and Mansfield, MA. Check out https://www.cardboardpromotions.com/ for more details.

A mix of priced and unpriced cards encourages customer engagement and allows for flexibility in negotiations.

Knowing the current market value of your cards and pricing them accordingly, sometimes slightly above eBay sold listings, can help increase profits.

What Are "Comps"?

Comps is a term you will often hear while attending card shows and is the most popular acronym in the card hobby today.

Comps are short for completed items, determining a card's value in today's market.

Don't let buyers intimidate you when they use the low comps on a card's value to their advantage when trying to buy the same card you might have.

Many sellers fall for this buying tactic, and the best way to avoid it is to understand the pricing range for the card in question.

Knowing the market for a card will allow you to avoid accepting an offer that is way under the average comps for the card.

Understanding Your Customers

Regularly attending the same show can help you recognize and cater to repeat customers, tailoring your inventory to their interests.

Focusing on local team prospects or popular players can also attract more buyers to your table.

Buying a combination of modern rookie and rookie autograph cards mixed in with graded rookie vintage cards is a good mix for your show table.

cardboard-north-attleboro

A Cardboard Promotions Show in North Attleboro, MA

Trading At Card Shows

Trading at card shows can be an effective way to help ensure your profits. I recommend only trading cards you overpaid for or will make less profit on.

Think of it like this: swapping that likely unprofitable card for something that will sell for more money is a no-brainer.

I don't typically trade rare or highly sought-after cards unless the customer you're making the trade with is giving you great value on the deal.  

Please ensure the deal will increase the potential value of your initial investment. Don't trade for cards that will sit around and collect dust, even if it seems like the cards you are trading for have a higher estimated value.

For example, I would never trade early Babe Ruth cards for a collection of 1970s Topps mid-tier HOF rookie cards.

Buying Cards At Card Shows

There are several effective ways to buy cards while attending card shows.

If you have a table set up at a show, you can walk around before the show begins or while it's happening and try to buy off other dealers.

Look for cards priced under comps or not priced at all yet. Try to package some deals together to get a better deal.

One of the best buying opportunities at a card show is when customers come to your table to sell you things.

Sellers in a pinch for cash might be willing to sell their cards well under comps. This investment will allow you to build inventory to gain future profits.

Like trading, don't waste too much time with a seller if the cards in question aren't worth your while. Also, learn to get a transaction wrapped up quickly to keep your attention on customers looking to buy cards from your table.

Optimizing Your Setup

A well-organized display is key to attracting buyers. Using glass showcases for higher-value cards and grouping cards by sport or era can make your table more appealing and navigable for customers.

It's up to you, but I like to have a mix of cards ranging from $100 to $1,000 that are likely in high demand.  

Place your key or eye grabber-type cards in the middle of your cases. Eye grabber cards will attract more customers to your table.

cardboard-glass-case

High Quality Vintage Cards at a Cardboard Promotions show at Holiday Inn Mansfield, Mass.

If you decide to put some cards in boxes, make sure they are off to the side of your table and not set up in the middle part. Don't put anything overly expensive in loose boxes; always watch your cards, especially when you get busy.

Building Your Brand

You can build up your sports card brand by attending various card shows. Share your social media handles to gain more followers; you can also have future online sales. Passing out business cards or creating a flier to give to customers is another good strategy for customers who don't use social media.

Final Thoughts

Card shows offer a lucrative platform for selling sports cards, allowing dealers to bypass eBay fees and directly engage with the hobby community.

By employing strategic buying, selling, and trading practices, you can maximize your profits while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts.

Vinnie Rullo

About the author

Vinnie Rullo is a passionate sports fan, with a hardcore loyalty to the Yankees, NY Giants and New York Knicks. An avid sports card collector, Vinnie has also worked a collectibles specialist for one of the bigger online auction houses.

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