Monday, December 29, 2008

My Other Project

Between these blog posts, selling on ebay, my full-time job and my family, I've been pretty busy these last six months transitioning from my current ecommerce website ( to a new one with a specific niche.

I've learned the hard way that opening a website store as an extension to ebay doesn't work. Nor does selling items on a website without a theme or niche (as you can get away with on ebay) work.

So if you're thinking of starting your own ecommerce website to include etopps cards, don't be like me. Instead, swim with the current and sell other sports-related items:
  • Other sports cards
  • Hobby boxes, cases
  • Sports memorabilia by team and by sport
  • Card stand for etopps cards
  • Sports items that are hard to find online (and not on ebay)
You can even start a blog and let it be the horse to pull the cart of your store. Sell things that you can blog about so you'll have more credibility when selling. Make videos to demonstrate what you're selling. For example if you're selling display cases for sports memorabilia, make a video for how to hang the display case on the wall.

* * *

At the expense of this post sounding like a promotional plug, I just updated the Connections section on the right side area, adding my latest project - Simply Superheroes. It's not live yet but should be up by tomorrow evening.

This website store will offer superhero merchandise for kids: Spider-man, Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Captain America and Wonder Woman. I will be selling products such as t-shirts, pajamas, backpacks, posters, party supplies and books.

If you are interested or if you know someone who would be interested in shopping here, I'm offering a discount code for the first order and a free gift to go with the order. Enter FIRSTORDER at checkout to get 10% off.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - December 26

As of today, December 26 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 516
Sell-Through: 20.54%
Average starting price: $1.56
Average final price: $9.73

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Barack Obama, $95.00
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Yankee Stadium Tribute Set, $115
Highest Graded Sale: 2002 Emmitt Smith Event PSA 10, $17.67
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2007 Adrian Peterson, $165
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2001 Albert Pujols
* 2007 Joba Chamberlain
* 2004 Alex Rodriguez
* 2003 Classic Baseball Roberto Clemente

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2004 Alex Rodriguez: 9 bids

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Results From The Autograph Poll

By a landslide, John Beck gets the award for the worst autograph offering. It's possible etopps had Beck sign his etopps card prior to Chad Pennington getting signed. It wasn't a bad idea at the time to get his signature. Pennington has been known for his injuries that stymie him but this season has become an exception.

For a good part of the week whenever I checked the poll results I was expecting Brady Quinn to earn the Best Auto but Montana pulled through, getting 10 votes while Quinn came in third place behind Favre. My personal best was Favre. No one was expecting this offering since Favre hadn't shown up on the radar since the autograph program started. Perhaps it would have won the Biggest Surprise Auto if I had included this in the polls.

Bo Jackson looked like the easy winner for Best Valued auto but votes for Brandon Jacobs picked up and came close to a tie.

As a seller, the most disappointing autos were the Allen and Ginter Super Bowl Champions. While the hobby has loved every regular A & G baseball set since it started recently, etopps never caught on as the only A&G football cards out there and having a few of these autographed did not change interest in this set.

Many thanks to all who voted.

Season's Greetings.

Monday, December 22, 2008

5 Predictions For Etopps In-Hands In 2009

Don't forget to vote on the right which was the best, worst and best valued autos during this football season (so far). Voting ends tomorrow night (12/23).

Here is what I think will happen next year:

1. Fewer etopps cards will be graded. It's just not worth the time and money to grade a card better than what it's being offered. With the costs that are adding up on ebay, having an etopps card graded doesn't give a better return than if you list the card quicker than those who wait for their cards to be graded. Only exception may be graded autographs.

2. More etopps cards are going to end on ebay without any bids that start under a dollar ($.99). The in-hand market on ebay is turning into a dumping ground for in-hands. With more supply, there is less demand.

3. More etopps in-hand cards will appear on other online ecommerce sites such as wigix, ioffer, wigix, and bonanzle due to the higher costs in selling etopps cards on ebay and the surge in alternatives to ebay online already.

4. For The Autograph Program, etopps will start to include a photo of player signing an etopps card when the card is being offered...why not?

5. If there is an etopps booth at the 2009 National in Cleveland, sales will be the lowest of any National done before due to the declining economy and etopps' saturation of the Cleveland National market (if you're not keeping score, this would be their third time selling there).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - December 21

As of today, December 19 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 464
Sell-Through: 51.72%
Average starting price: $2.27
Average final price: $7.97

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Barack Obama, $75.00
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Yankee Stadium Tribute Set, $140
Highest Graded Sale: 2001 Albert Pujols BGS 9.5 $99.99
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: Willie Mays Classic Baseball, $250
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2001 Albert Pujols
* 2003 Tom Brady
* 2008 Allen & Ginter Yankee Tribute - Mickey Mantle
* 2008 Allen & Ginter Yankee Tribute - Lou Gehrig

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2008 All & Ginter Barack Obama: 12 bids

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poll: FB Autographs (So Far)

Etopps has been quiet recently in the autograph offerings department. Two weeks have passed since the Terry Bradshaw offering.

Methinks they won't start up again until next year during the playoffs.

In the meantime, here's a list of what they offered so far:

Allen and Ginter Joe Namath
Anthony Gonzalez
Marion Barber
Brett Favre
Brandon Jacobs
Calvin Johnson
Greg Olsen
Joe Montana
Brady Quinn
John Beck
Bo Jackson
Allen and Ginter Terry Bradshaw

So with this line-up, I'll open up a few polls until next week:

Which was the best autograph offering?

Which was the worst autograph offering?

Which was the best valued?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Make Google Your Friend

If you don't use Google by now beyond their search engine, you may be a little behind in what they can provide:

Google Base Store Connector: Synchronize your ebay store listings with Google Base (think craig's list) and get your ebay listings in their search more prominently.

Picasa: Google's free picture software program. It's so easy to use from uploading to cropping to organizing all of your photos (and videos) on your computer. They have this great button to help improve any photo you upload from your digital camera: "I'm Feeling Lucky."

Gmail: I've been using it for a few years. This helps you organize your emails in your inbox related to ebay for transactions by creating labels. I use terms such as payment pending, payment mailed, paid, priority mail, international, and (sparingly) refund. You can put these labels in different colors and different shading behind the font to make them stand out. Gmail just added tasks to their email so you can create an easy to-do list for your etopps auctions. Very easy to use and freakin' free.

iGoogle: with you Gmail account, you get to have a dashboard similar to My Yahoo in which you control which content appears on this page. You can include blog feeds (like this one ; ), the weather forecast, bookmarks and thousands of other widgets in the iGoogle Add Stuff link. Hopefully some day you'll be able to read Mark Sapir's etopps blog on iGoogle without having to look at the etopps website.

Alerts: Get emailed by Google whenever a search term you select appears in the news, in blogs, videos, or anywhere on the web. I use this, for example, to track the word etopps on the web.

Google Calendar: Keep up with what you have to do with this tool and customize your calendar for your favorite team's game schedule. A cool feature is setting up reminders on the calendar to your Gmail account. At 2pm every day, I remind myself to go to the post office if I need to ship a package.

Google Documents: If you want to keep track of your transactions, Google Documents is great for setting up Excel-like documents. If you are using an Excel spreadsheet, it's easy to upload it to this program and you can share your documents via email. When setting up the sell sheets and inventory for the last card show I did, I had set it up with Google Documents and sent it to the other sellers via email for them to review.

So what are you waiting for? Set up a google account and get these free tools to make your etopps in-hand business easier to manage.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - December 12

As of today, December 12 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 482
Sell-Through: 44.19%
Average starting price: $2.07
Average final price: $5.88

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Barack Obama, $70.00
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Yankee Stadium Tribute Set, $110
Highest Graded Sale: 2007 Adrian Peterson, PSA 10, $63
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: Tony Dorsett Classic Football, $89.99
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2003 LeBron James
* 2008 Tim Lincecum
* 2008 Allen & Ginter Superbowl Champs - Joe Montana
* 2008 Manny Ramirez

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2008 Cole Hamels: 11 bids

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Etopps Autograph This Week

With the unsuccess of Terry Bradshaw, is this it for autographs for football this season?

We may know next week but I doubt it.

Possibly it is the end of autographs for this business quarter and will resume in the new year.

If etopps is done w/ football autographs I'll set up a poll to get an idea about which ones were liked and disliked the most.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Shipping Strategies

It looks like etopps will start offering autographs on Tuesdays now rather than Mondays and they will be offered on Fridays rather than Thursdays.

As predicted, the Bradshaw auto has turned out to be a tough sell for etopps based on the secondary market performance of the two Joes that were auto'ed out of this set, the quality of Bradshaw's signature, the ailing economy and the holiday buying season.

It's been awhile since I posted about the process of selling etopps cards on ebay. One area I did not include is third-party vendors to make the proces of sending out etopps cards to happy customers easier.

To me, the process of shipping out an etopps card from my home is one of the more tedious tasks as an ebay seller. The process of hand-writing the buyer's address on a shipping envelope, guestimating the postage and over-stamping the package drove me nuts at first. But over time, I've found ways to make it easier.

First off, if you haven't already you should find a reliable source for bubble-lined mailers for etopps cards, size #000. Because of my location, is a great vendor. They are loaded with everything imaginable for shipping and give you cool stuff if you order a lot at one time. U-Line comes in handy when you realize (all of a sudden) that you're low on mailers and you need them soon. When I order form this company, I usually get my order delivered UPS within two business days.

But if you can anticipate you'll need shipping supplies like mailers in the next week or so, I would recommend another company. is a company I first encountered at ebay live this year. They were giving out cool t-shirts and told me about their services. They said they can beat U-Line on price if you can wait a little longer than it takes from U-Line. And they're right. They offer free shipping, good selection and send via UPS from California which is why they take a little longer.

Another way to curb the tediousness of shipping is to process the shipping costs through paypal. On the payment email from paypal for an etopps card, click on the link to show you the details of the transaction online. On this landing page, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link that reads Print Shipping Label. You will go to a page that makes it so easy: a pull down menu for the type of shipping you'll use (most likely first class), the weight of the package and the date you'll be shipping the package.

An etopps card in a bubble-lined mailer is three ounces. You pay a few nickels more to cover the delivery confirmation expense which is well-worth the price in the long-run if you get someone saying they haven't received their package from you yet. When you plug in this information, you click a confirm button to get to the payment page and it tells you how much will be deducted from your paypal account for the shipping label.

When you click the Pay button, another window pops open to print the label. After clicking print, you have yourself a shipping page that can be cut out with scissors and taped to the package. I highly recommend purchasing shipping label pages that has one label you can peel out per page rather than two labels per page because the print out also provides a receipt of the transaction including the delivery confirmation number which is good to have for your records.

I use to provide me with these labels and you can buy them in quanitity of 100. Trust me: after using scissors and shipping tape to cut out and stick on these shipping labels a few dozen times, having the luxury of peeling off freshly-printed labels that saves you time is well worth the price of those labels.

When applying the label whether they are from shipping label pages or from plain paper, I recommend applying the label on top of where the mailer flap is sealed. It's an extra level of protection and let's the buyer know whether or not the shipment has been tampered with.

If you get a multiple-card order and the shipment weighs more than 13 ounces, you have to bring the shipment into a post office to mail it. You cannot just stick it in a mailbox. I made the mistake of waiting in line just to hand over shipments that I had paid the night before via paypal. Don't be like me: walk past the long holiday lines and tell the post office clerk what you have in your hands has been paid for already and they'll tell you where to place the packages.

So this is another advantage: by paying for the packages at home you don't have to wait in line at the post office.

In sum, shipping is the least exciting aspect of being an ebay seller but by following a few professional steps and saving time by printing out shipping labels via paypal, it's not such a bad thing and your buyers will notice this.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - December 5

As of today, December 5 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 433
Sell-Through: 37.41%
Average starting price: $3.42
Average final price: $10.49

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Barack Obama, $99.00
Highest Mult-Card Sale: Mickey Mantle Collection, $340
Highest Graded Sale: 2003 LeBron James, PSA 10, $49.99
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2001 Albert Pujols, $699
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2002 Babe Ruth Classic Baseball
* 2001 Reggie Wayne
* 2008 Allen & Ginter Superbowl Champs - Terry Bradshaw
* 2008 Manny Ramirez

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2008 Barack Obama: 15 bids

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Seth Godin's Blog: High Cost of Now

Here's a great blog post from Seth Godin about immediate gratification. Think etopps when you read it.

I recommend subscribing to his blog. It's one of the best on marketing.

Auto Offering: A&G Terry Bradshaw

Finally Terry Bradshaw is being offered. It was listed as a prize (or two) in the pigskin challenge earlier this football season and the wait has been long, after two other Allen and Ginter Superbowl Champion autographs (the two Joes).

We are now halfway through the Superbowl Champions set for autographs. It looks like etopps is keeping its word after the voting took place at this summer's econ in favor of these cards getting signed.

Methinks the last one or two of these will be offered deep in the playoffs and possibly the last one days before the Super Bowl.

As mentioned already, this is being offered later than expected. And it is also being offered later than expected for some reason. At first auto offerings occurred at noon EST until there was a glitch in the auto pilot programming at etopps for one particular auto that got pushed back three hours and has stayed that way ever since. And now this auto has been pushed forward a day and so has the homepage announcement. So will this be a new trend: homepage announcement on Tuesdays and the offering on Fridays? I think we'll see next week.

I think Friday would be a better choice. Fridays are usually paydays for people and having money in their pockets may encourage people to buy the autos. From my experience I have more sales on Fridays than other days of the work week. Sometimes I don't get paid until Friday if someone has purchased or won an auction from me on ebay on a Sunday and other times I have had people tell me they will pay me on Friday...after they get their paycheck.

So at $149.99 a pop (total 50) is this auto worth it from an ebay seller's pov? Two things don't look so good for this. The price and the quality of the signature. It looks scrunched and the pen too thick. Terry Bradshaw isn't a short name, 13 characters if you don't include a space (which he didn't).

We've seen between a FB Classic and the AG, the FB Classic sold out for Joe Montana and the secondary market has not been kind so far for autos from this set.

When you do a completed listing search on ebay for his name and the word auto, there's not much action going on. Signed jerseys and footballs are the high-end offerings that mostly do not sell.

The best listing that's equivalent to the auto offering on Friday is this link. It's a pretty good sale and the signature is on the card. What's nice is the numbering of the card is written: 08/50.

If you consider selling this card, I would hold off selling this as a pre-sell in hopes of getting a better signature than what etopps is showing on their website. If you use the available picture for a pre-sell, good luck.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Instead Of An Autograph Offering

Two things have occurred with etopps autograph offerings as of late that has my head scratching. They never showed what the autographs for the Bo Jacksons would look like -- a first in a while --which is a snub to the pre-sellers. And secondly, they didn't offer an autograph this week as if they got the weeks mixed up between last week's Thanksgiving and this week. Hmm.

So what to write about in its place. I opted not to write anything but with a Killian's Red next to me and the tunes from coming out of my laptop in my basement while I write this, I thought I should give a little something about myself for filler.

In early April of 2002 I was watching spring training Mets on tv in my Brooklyn apartment. I was tempted to flip through channels when the commercials came on between innings when I saw something that caught my eye.

The recession hadn't hit full-force yet and the dotcom bubble was only beginning to have its full effect as well. I had missed all of the dotcom stock market get-rich opportunities, looking in from the outside with a certain amount of envy.

And a commercial, of all things, stirred the entrepreneur in me that afternoon in my Brooklyn apartment. Of all things (again), slick flashes of online baseball cards mixed with high profit percentages had me logging onto the internet with my dial-up connection to see more of what I saw. I could say the rest is history at any point and end this post. But I won't.

Etopps wasn't easy to swallow at first. I had sworn off baseball cards nearly ten years before and revisiting anything related to it felt like I was going against my nature to return to something I associated with who I was years ago rather than my present self. I wanted to turn the page from those days of squeezing out a little money from dealers when I had to liquidate a good part of my collection after college and the bad trades I made and the cards I misplaced and haven't found yet (1969 Nolan Ryan).

I was in search of the next big thing but I didn't believe it would be in sports cards no matter how big of a spike I was walking into.

But I had registered with etopps at the height of the Baseball Spike of 2002 and saw the profits in the graphs that people were making. (Suddenly) I found it quite easy to reconcile myself with my collecting days and shook my head over how easy it was to make at least a little profit.

I ordered Toby Hall as one of the first in-port cards. It was the second week of IPOs for the baseball season and was already kicking myself for not seeing the promo commercial a week earlier so I could be making money from the 2002 Barry Bonds that had been allocated already and was climbing higher and higher each day.

During that first IPO season I was horrible at picking out IPO winners. I remember ordering the event card for Shawn Green when he hit 4 homers in one game. It did pretty good after IPO, holding the IPO price and a little more. My most strategic move that IPO season was selling this card right after Mark Cameron hit 4 dingers in a game as well. I predicted right that etopps would issue an event card for him too so I flipped the Green event as fast as I could. Since I had been allocated two, I remember selling each one for close to $20. Somehow the gods were in my favor.

I was hooked and where I worked people knew I had some kind of an online problem...and now the rest is history.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - November 28

As of today, November 28 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 190
Sell-Through: 60.53%
Average starting price: $3.33
Average final price: $14.55

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Barack Obama, $99.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Yankee Tribute Set, $145
Highest Graded Sale: 2001 Albert Pujols, BGS 9, $56.09
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2007 Adrian Peterson, $155
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2001 Albert Pujols
* 2008 Allen & Ginter Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton
* 2008 Daniel Murphy
* 2001 Tom Glavine

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2008 Barack Obama: 15 bids

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gearing Up For The Holidays

Unless you live under a rock, you're aware that Black Friday and Cyber-Monday are approaching fast. The theory is retailers are poised to get out of the red while consumers are forming lines after sitting down for turkey to get the sweetest deals.

Online, Cyber-Monday (12/1) is supposed to be a reaction by consumers who will have searched high and low for deals from Friday through Sunday without finding what they're looking for, sleep off their frustration and wake up Monday morning to surf the internet and find better deals than their local brick-and-mortars.

Can you guess I'm not buying this either?

The whole Black-Friday/Cyber-Monday/holiday shopping thing has already started on ebay. Over the last two years I've had more sales on Thanksgiving than the day after or on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

In preparation for this time, here are a few questions to see if you're ready for this time period:
  • Do your Buy-It-Now listings have best offers?
  • Have you set parameters for your best offers?
  • Are your margins enough for the prices you're asking (if you're using BINs)?
  • Are you offering anything other than a lower price to buyers?
  • Are you selling Obama?
  • If you have more than one of a card in a BIN listing, does this match your inventory?
  • Are you buying etopps Baseball?
  • If you are using auction-format listings, are they ending on the right day and the right time of day?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Autograph Offering: Bo Jackson

For Thanksgiving, etopps will be offering 25 Bo Jackson Baseball Classic and 25 Football Classic cards at $39.99 a pop. Unless there is a mistake in the listing, the Baseball Classic will be offered at 1PM EST and the Football Classic at 3PM EST.

I was surprised an autograph offering would occur this week because of the holiday. Mark either forgot or shrewdly knew that this would be a great day to offer these cards because no one's day job would get in the way, only the distance from your dining room chair to the computer.

But what about the ones like myself who are traveling and will be guests at someone else's home? This is when the fun begins. Luckily, I'm not going after either card so I don't have to think about this. I'll be stuck in traffic somewhere in NYC while both are being offered.

But besides me, what's a good excuse to use the computer at someone's home that's not yours? You're in a social situation where computers and the internet are more for topics of conversation than sitting online and clicking the refresh button in your Sunday-best clothing. The more you're observed hitting the F5 button, the more addictive you look for knowing what you're doing.

You have two approaches, depending on how sports-minded the room full of people or hosts are. If they've never heard of Bo Jackson or couldn't care less about football or sports just say you need to check something online. You could say email but if they walk in the room that you're in with the computer, they'll know you were lying.

If they've heard of or like Bo Jackson, be honest and tell them what you're doing. If you get one of the 50 autos, let them be happy for you...after all, it's Thanksgiving.

Aside from this potentially awkward situation, ebay hasn't been the most kind with etopps autographs of late or the hobby as a whole, considering the reported fewer views last month and the current economic unraveling taking place in this country. It's no wonder we are more selective in our gotta-have-it buys on ebay.

With this in mind, it is no wonder that Bo Jackson's autos are going for under $100 as of late unless it's something special, whether a low auto run or with another retired athlete or something more than a card such as a jersey or a framed flat.

If you're considering flipping this, the question you may be asking yourself: will this auto be deemed special enough to sell more than $100?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - November 21

As of today, November 21 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 235
Sell-Through: 67.23%
Average starting price: $3.58
Average final price: $15.35

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Barack Obama, $129.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Yankee Tribute Set, $199.99
Highest Graded Sale: 2003 LeBron James, BGS 9.5, $48.95
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2003 Tom Brady, $199
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: 2007 Adrian Peterson, BGS 9.5/10 $598

Other best sellers:

* 2003 LeBron James
* 2008 Allen & Ginter Yankee Tribute Mickey Mantle
* 2008 Daniel Murphy
* 2005 Ryan Howard

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2008 Barack Obama: 19 bids

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama: Spike-Sleeper

If you haven't figured it out already, The Spikes of 2002 will never happen again.

If you haven't figured it out already, The Spikes of 2006 thanks to the fantasy games of baseball and football probably will most likely not happen again.

And if you haven't already figured it out, we're in a one-card spike right now: the Allen and Ginter Presidential Candidate Barack Obama.

Spikes do not happen that often anymore in etoppsland thanks to pumping and dumping and less seldomly, heavy ownership/accumulation by one or more etoppers.

I'm trying to recall when was the last time we had a one-card spike that occurred at least 6+ months afterwards (excluding cards of players that have been offered as an autograph).

I think it was the 2001 Albert Pujols. His spike did not occur until 2003.

There should be a name for this etopps phenomenon: spike-sleeper.

Which card will be next? It's either sleeping or it hasn't been issued yet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Autograph Offering: John Beck

John Beck is on hold thanks to the Dolphins (or Bill Parcell's) quick acquisition of Chad Pennington duirng the off-season and so should you if you buy this at $19.99 on Thursday.

He had some playing time last year and showed potential. Like all back-ups, he's a starting quarterback's injury away from taking snaps at the line of scrimmage.

And there are plenty of quarterbacks who started this way. In recent years, names like Brady, Roethlisberger, and Romo come to mind. And most recently, Kerry Collins.

At $19.99 with free shipping, you don't have much to lose. Time could be on your side if you wait this one out and see how he does when Beck has his next opportunity.

You may still be skeptic that you're throwing your money away. I don't blame you. His autos on ebay have sold for under $5 to over $30 for the high-end autos. Bottom line it's a risk but not that big.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - November 14

As of today, November 14 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 210
Sell-Through: 62.38%
Average starting price: $4.71
Average final price: $18.33

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Barack Obama, $129.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Presidential Candidates Set, $142.49
Highest Graded Sale: 2003 Dwyane Wade, BGS 9.5, $38.30
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2007 Adrian Peterson, $162.50
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2007 Joba Chamberlain
* 2003 LeBron James
* 2008 Joe Montana Allen & Ginter SB Champions
* 2008 David Wright

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2008 Barack Obama: 12 bids

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Learn From This Ebay Seller: Waxpackcity

A few years ago in my search for picking up a Big Ben etopps auto before Super Bowl XL, I stumbled upon an ebay seller who had sold one of these autos for a decent price. I looked at his other listings but none of them were etopps autos. Instead they were high-end sports cards, all with buy-it-now prices and subtitles under the titles of all of the active listing. Almost every subtitle ended with the same words: Don't Wait.

What made this seller's listings so appealing was the homework he did. He uses two third-party ebay search services that allows him to dig deep into ebay's completed listings - terapeak and price miner.

In the subtitle he will include what the card sold for in the past and his buy-it-now will be around 40-50% less. I keep this seller as one of my favorites because he gets to me even if the past sale of a card occurred 6-8 months ago. Without clicking on his listings, I can read the title and subtitle for all of his listings and there's usually one or two which tempt me.

I've saved him as a favorite all this time because even after two years, his business model works of ebay, he's successful and he's got a good source of inventory.

You don't have to look far to find his inventory source. It's ebay. He's nearing 5K 100% positive feedback. And this feedback is not from selling alone. What I do to sober up from a listing that looks tempting is I peruse his feedback from sellers who sold him the cards he's currently listing just to see what he paid for them.

When you do this, you can see who really bought the steals. You may have to go through a few pages of feedback to find the card you want but you'll see that the margins for this seller is there.

With all due respect to one particular etopps member who low-balls many listings, waxpackcity is a high-end moemule. They both do what they do well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Autograph Offering: Brady Quinn

Without a doubt, this autograph is probably one of the best timed offering you could ask from etopps.

It would be hard to believe Mark had planned Quinn for this week.

It's the opposite of what has been the case for the 2007 rookie auto offerings: players who either never reached their hype and in their second year weren't reaching it either or players who had been hyped last year and we missed this boat because we had to wait until this football season.

This is the perfect opportunity so enjoy riding this wave. I'm sure there has been a spike of Quinn cards (and autos) since Thursday's game against Denver.

So a week after his debut as the Browns' starting quarterback, etopps will offer 100 at $59.99 each.

As of this writing, when you type in 2007 Brady Quinn auto on ebay, there are 132 listings, the high being a 2007 Upper Deck Exquisite Gold 2-color patch auto # to 25 and has an asking price of $2999.99 or best offer.

While this is fine and dandy, I added /100 to the search and looked at the completed listings. In the last two weeks, four were listed and only two of these sold: one for $50 and another for $85.

For more data, I replaced /100 to /99 and this gave me 12 completed listings and 7 of these sold ranging from $47 (Trilogy Signature Future) to $374.99 (Upper Deck Exquisite Patch). (FYI: 4 listings in between these two were BGS graded).

So what to do? Buy it. You may do better with a pre-sell if Quinn tanks against Buffalo on Monday night or you may be better if Quinn continues to make a difference for the Browns by the time the Big Brown truck gives you your Browns auto (couldn't resist).

So for the secondary market, your timing of your listing may determine if you will make a decent profit or an awesome profit.

Nevertheless, hats off to etopps for choosing Quinn this week, a no-brainer.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - November 7

As of today, November 7 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 261
Sell-Through: 67.82%
Average starting price: $3.15
Average final price: $7.70

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Barack Obama, $199.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Presidential Candidates Set, $130
Highest Graded Sale: 2001 Albert Pujols, BGS 9, $75
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2006 BJ Upton, $200
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2003 LeBron James
* 2008 Allen and Ginter Mickey Mantle
* 2008 Evan Longoria
* 2008 David Wright

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: (tie) 2008 Barack Obama and 2003 Walter Payton: 12 bids

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Got Barack?

We want to make money from etopps.

We want to buy the cards low and sell them high.

And now there's a card that can give you this.

Thanks to the election of our 44th President, Barack Obama.

If you have a Barack Obama in-hand card, now is the time to sell. At your (fixed) price and by offering free shipping you get the free subtitle below the listing title.

If you have the Barack Obama in-port, sell it as well but just be prepared if the buyer has no clue about etopps and just wants the card.

And kudos to all of you who took the risk of buying this card on the secondary market when it was under $40 in hopes of doubling your money. Because now you can.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Autograph Offering: Joe Montana

The ebay issue about listing in-port etopps cards is resolved.

Earlier today I was cc'ed an email that was sent from ebay to Mark of etopps. In the email, ebay admitted this was a mistake: "I dug into this one a bit, this listing should not have been pulled. Our policy enforcement team will ensure the rep that pulled the listing understands the reason why this listing complies with our policy."

Glad this is over and has a happy ending. If anyone gets their listing pulled by ebay due to this cockeyed digital delivery policy, please forward the email to me and I can forward it to Mark.

Kudos to Mark for taking action so quickly on this.

* * *
Around noon today, seeing the two images of Joe Montana on the etopps home page made me say out loud, "Wow." After a few weeks of boring offerings since Brett Favre, etopps opens their so-called second half of the football season with a bang by offering not one but two Joe Montana cards in their autograph program.

You have the choice of either the Football Classic or the more recent Allen and Ginter Superbowl Champions for $149. The difference is quantity. There will be only 29 Classics offered and 50 Allen and Ginter.

So the question you may ask yourself if you can afford this autograph is which one to choose.

I gave this a lot of thought today, walking to lunch from my job and during my drive home. On the one hand you have more of the A and G but they're the hot set right now thanks to the Allen and Ginter baseball sets since 2006 but the autograph for the Classic looks better and Joe may have had to abbreviate or squeeze his signature on the A and G card compared to the Classic.

Another thing to take into consideration is the Classic was signed by ecardautographs for the same quantity. I don't recall what was the going price when Eric offered these. But I do know that the going rate to have Joe Montana sign a flat at a card show would cost you somewhere in the ballpark of $175.

I remember selling at the East Coast Football Spectacular in NJ when Joe Montana was signing. Fans of him had flown in from all over the country to have him sign whatever they were bringing in person. What I remember is Montana cancelling and seeing the expressions on people's faces who had made the investment to be at the show.

But I digress...

The secondary market may be kind to you. The best sales for a Montana auto were the ones that were signed by someone else besides Montana like Steve Young, Dan Marino or an active quarterback like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Others that sold well included game-used jersey swatches in the card.

When you push aside all of these extras and see how other Montana autos at /50 or somewhere close to /29 do, it's hard to get a good assessment from ebay. Most autos on ebay are stickers.

If you do consider selling this card, by all means offer free shipping so you can include the free subtitle and emphasize this autograph is not a sticker. Since ebay does not break down this important autograph characteristic, let potential buyers know immediately and the subtitle is the perfect real estate for this.

Going back whether to choose Classic or Allen and Ginter, I don't think it matters. You don't have much to lose with either one, whether it's 29 or 50. Let potential buyers deal with this dilemma and hopefully they'll like the choice that etopps has given us. It's too bad this problem doesn't happen for each autograph offering.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - October 31 (Boo!)

As a follow-up to the listing violation issue with in-port cards, Mark Sapir cc'ed me in his email to ebay, asking for help with this situation. He emailed three different people at ebay and received a quick reply from ebay that they will be working to solve this problem either by today or Monday.

Hopefully, this will be resolved soon.

* * *

As of today, October 31 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 236
Sell-Through: 39.41%
Average starting price: $3.07
Average final price: $11.71

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Barack Obama, $66.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen and Ginter Yankee Stadium Tribute Set, $137.50
Highest Graded Sale: 2002 Jackie Robinson, PSA 10, $19.99
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2007 Adrian Peterson, $175.00
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2006 Cole Hamels
* 2008 Allen and Ginter Hillary Clinton
* 2008 Allen and Ginter Yankee Stadium Tribute Patch Card
* 2001 Albert Pujols

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2001 Albert Pujols: 16 bids

Thursday, October 30, 2008

From Ebay: Etopps In-Port Auctions Are A Violation

After the last post, I phoned ebay in hopes of getting a hold of someone.

I got through and explained the situation, the difference between in-hand and in-port, that these are freakin' sports cards, that this will effect hundreds of people who sell these cards, that I have no control over the template for the listing.

It didn't matter.

Bottom line is these are digitally deliverable goods and should be listed as classified ads not as auctions according to their policy (which has been in effects for months).

So until etopps adjusts the template, I would end my listings if I were you. You can try to get away with not being detected until Sunday but I don't see what the gain is to being a sitting duck.

But there's a problem. No one is going to pay $9.95 to list an etopps card. While you can name your price and it's a buy-it-now. This listing fee is absurb.

So what's gong to happen? Will we be able to continue to list etopps cards as auctions? Will they be listed as classified ads? Is this the last straw between etopps and ebay? Or is it time for the Big Brown Truck?

As TO once said, "Bring your popcorn."

Sellers Beware: In-Port Ebay Listing Violation

I listed a bunch of in-port etopps cards for 7 days to end Saturday night. One of them is a 2008 Steve Slaton. It had bids since being listed last Saturday.

It was just pulled by ebay.

I got an email with the subject line: MC018 eBay Listing Removed: Miscategorization of Digitally Delivered Goods.

Here's what the email says:
You recently listed the following auction-style listing:

400004427345 - 1 - Steve Slaton 2008 - etopps

The listing was removed because it violated the eBay Miscategorization of Digitally Delivered Goods policy. The violation occurred when you included the following information in your listing:

This auction is for an in-portfolio card. This card will be transferred to your eTopps portfolio.

We notified members who placed bids on the item that the listing has been canceled.

To ensure that members can find what they're looking for quickly and easily, items need to be listed in the appropriate category. Sellers need to choose the category that most accurately describes their item.

*****Please read this important information to help you bring your future listings into compliance.

Digital goods are often reproduced at little to no cost to the seller. On eBay, this creates the potential for Feedback Manipulation. To preserve the integrity of the Feedback system, all goods that can be digitally downloaded or transferred electronically (including e-mail delivery) must be listed using the Classified Ad format in the Everything Else>Information Products category only.

Please note that if the appropriate changes are not made, it may lead to the indefinite suspension of your account.*****

For more information on the eBay policy, please visit:

Needless to say this is not a good sign. Anyone listing an in-port is a sitting duck. This reminds me of when people were getting notices of listing violations when cardtarget was listing cards for people's ebay/etopps accounts for CTM and people were getting suspended from ebay.

I forwarded this email to Mark Sapir and hopefully he'll be able to contact ebay or be able to make an adjustment to the listing category for etopps cards or something so no one else will have their listings pulled and get the slap on the hand that I got.

Strange how this pandora's box gets opened right before Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Gift of Cardtarget's New Website

It's here. Finally. Cardtarget now includes in-hands.

Now you can buy and sell in-hands and see how they're doing on ebay.

And it's not just plain ol' in-hands. They're also including autographed etopps cards so you can see how they performed on ebay.

I just did a search on how Hanley Ramirez's autographed card sold in the past. I was expecting the past two weeks. Try more than two freakin' months!

It goes back until May for Hanley's standard in-hands, five months of data.

For Adrian Peterson's auto, you can see a list of the last 23 ebay transactions.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: this is a goldmine. Cardtarget now has the deepest ebay search you will find.

You can't even go this far back for third-party auction services that require a monthly paid subscription.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Favorite Favorites For Etopps Autographs

I have found the best prices for etopps autographed cards by using certain search terms on ebay which you can save as a favorite and then get emailed if there are any new listings with these search terms for up to a year.

Here's my list of search terms for etopps autographs:

etopps auto
etopps autograph
etopps signed
etopps autographed
e-topps auto
e-topps autograph
e-topps autographed

Try them and see what comes up.

After you do a search for each one, there's a link next to the search term called Save This Search. You will be given the option to have the search results emailed to you and you can choose for how long. If you subscribe for six months, days before it expires you will get an email from ebay asking you to re-subscribe. It's a great little tool to have.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - October 24

As of today, October 24 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 286
Sell-Through: 51.40%
Average starting price: $3.80
Average final price: $8.67

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen & Ginter Barack Obama, $64.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: Mickey Mantle 18-Card Collection, $395
Highest Graded Sale: 2003 Carson Palmer, PSA 10, $6.61
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: Emmitt Smith Event, $199.99
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2008 Justin Masterson
* 2008 A&G YST Patch Card
* 2008 Evan Longoria
* 2004 Josh Smith

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: (tie) A&G Barack Obama, 2008 Justin Masterson: 13 bids

Monday, October 20, 2008

Autograph Offering: Greg Olsen

Thank you for participating in last week's poll. Some were in favor of offering autographs of players during their off-season while others did not want to change when the autographs became available. And it appears I am in the minority on sticker autos which I can get over.

I appreciate the comments submitted by Jeff and welcome discussion for any posts past or present.

* * *

On Thursday, etopps is offering the autograph of Greg Olsen's 2007 rookie card for $39.99 each. The total quantity is 96. Etoppers can buy up to 3 of these starting at 3pm EST.

If you are a Bears fan, a collector of etopps autographs, a collector of autographs on-the-card rather than stickers, or a fellow alumni of Olsen's school (Miami), this is a great autographed rookie card to own.

But don't get your hopes up for making a profit on this card on ebay. Unless you live in the Chicago area and you're a card show seller, the asking price for this card is about the max of what you can sell it for on ebay. So it's a break-even situation.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - October 17

As of today, October 17 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 139
Sell-Through: 46.04%
Average starting price: $1.92
Average final price: $10.31

Highest Single Card Sale: 2003 LeBron James: $31.88
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen & Ginter Yankee Stadium Tribute Set: $174.99
Highest Graded Sale: 2008 A & G YST Babe Ruth, PSA 9, $30.71
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2006 Reggie Bush
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: 2007 Adrian Peterson, BGS 9.5/10 $349

Other best sellers:

* 1956 Mickey Mantle reprint
* 2008 A&G YST Don Larsen
* 2008 A&G YST Aaron Boone
* 2007 A&G SB Champions John Elway

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2007 A&G John Elway, 7 Bids.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Idea For Serializing Autographs; Solution to Send & Run on Ebay

If there is a person at etopps who writes the serial number from the square sticker on the back of each autograph on the respective certificate of authenticity, why can't they also write "001/100" somewhere on the COA as well?

This would make the COA more valuable and create a little more demand for certain serial numbers (ie, the player's jersey number).

* * *

It happened again last night on ebay. A potential buyer for one of my buy-it-now/best offer listings emailed me via ebay. Minutes after receiving the email I emailed him back. More than 12 hours after I replied to his email, I haven't heard a word from him.

Similar to hit & run, this is send (email) & run. I'm convinced that ebay buyers assume sellers will not reply to an email until 24 hours after the email has been sent.

Couldn't ebay create an icon that shows up next to your ebay id that indicates logged onto ebay? It could be anything, as simple as a green traffic light so buyers can assume sellers will not return emails. I'm always surprised by how many buyers who do respond to an email I send them through ebay compliment me on how fast I respond.

Bottom line: customer service should not be perceived as optional. It should be a given.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Autograph Offering: Calvin Johnson/Take The Poll: Suggestions To Improve Auto Program

I wish I could tell you this autograph offering of Calvin Johnson is a good deal because of the price or quantity or because he is a high draft pick or because of the team he plays on or the position he plays. But none of these matter.

Good luck if you're considering re-selling this card. I'm sure this is a great opportunity if you're a Lions fan or a fan of his alma mater, Georgia Tech or like to collect etopps autographs as part of your sports memorabilia collection.

The reality is this card is being offered in the etopps autograph program too late. We already know this based on the quantity you can buy in the email sent by etopps: 3. It indicates the confidence etopps has that this will be a sell-out.

One of two things has to happen to get out of this frustrating cycle of releasing autographs of players whose secondary-market hype has passed. It's not the best solution but at least it points in this direction.

Since we cannot get these cards autographed until they are at least available to be shipped, etopps has to bite the bullet and offer the autograph as soon as possible, regardless of where we are in the football season (read after the football season is over).

Let's take Adrian Peterson's auto as an example. It was offered at the tail-end of the playoffs for $99 on 1/23/07 to be exact. From my Friday Marketwatch posts, you can see that it has been one of the best selling autos on ebay since it was announced...until the beginning of this season. Could you imagine what would be its value if etopps had waited until the beginning of this season to release this auto? It probably would have sold out but the last one that sold went for a little more than $25 over the price of the auto. So if you bought the auto at today's price (upper $20s) and spent the $99 on the auto, you would have broken even if you were the seller who sold this last one on ebay.

Another possibility to take advantage of the hype of rookies while they are in their rookie season is to offer autos with stickers. (I know what you're thinking: "Heresy!") This suggestion would not be for the autos we've seen for Favre, Bill Russell, Tomlinson, Pujols, Emmitt Smith or any of the other greats of football, baseball or basketball. It would only be for the rookies if this would help them become available for the second market prior to their sophomore season when the value of most rookie cards (and autos) go down.

I'm going to open a poll through Friday: keep the auto program as it is, offer autos beyond the season of the sport the player is in, sticker autos for rookies only if it can expedite offering the autos while these rookies are still in their rookie seasons, or something else. If you vote for something else, I welcome you to post your comments on what can improve the timing of offerings in the etopps autograph program.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - October 10

As of today, October 10 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 194
Sell-Through: 53.09%
Average starting price: $1.53
Average final price: $9.51

Highest Single Card Sale: 2005 Ryan Howard, $20
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen Ginter Yankee Stadium Tribute Set: $149
Highest Graded Sale: 2005/06 Deron Williams, BGS 9.5, $7.50
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: Allen & Ginter Joe Namath, $179
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: 2006 Justin Morneau, BGS 9.5, (Auto 10): $200

Other best sellers:

* 2006 Reggie Bush
* 2007 Daisuke Matsuzaka
* 2005 Prince Fielder
* 2008 Derek Jeter

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2008 Derek Jeter, 9 Bids

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Feedback on the new CardTarget website; Remaining 08 Baseball Ready for Shipping

I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek preview from Mike for the new CardTarget website yesterday. He asked me to look it over and provide feedback on its overall appearance, navigation and in-hand market capabilities.

You're going to like the way this looks. The biggest and most significant change is the division two sections on the homepage. One for in-port and one for in-hand. As it does now for in-port, you will see a parallel listing of best sellers for in-hands and in-ports.

So with this parallel data, how will you tell one from the other? It'll be obvious on the homepage because they will have a title for each listing (in-port on the left and in-hand on the right). But what about a page for a player's card. How will you know, especially for the newbies once the etopps integration will kick in? If you are on an in-port card page, you will see a briefcase symbol that you won't miss. And if you are on an in-hand card page, a nice picture of a hand on that page.

Besides moving a few of the pull-down menus around, the overall navigation will be similar to how you currently navigate on CT. For the newbies, there will be informational sections on what is etopps and what is cardtarget and how they will be working together. I assume there will be quite a few people getting on CT for the first time after etopps makes the announcement that the integration is a go.

Setting up your in-hand portfolio will be quite easy. It's actually like being on Cloud 9. (Keep in mind, you're going to have to build it card-by-card since there's no XML file to transfer what you have in your collection to CT.)

For each card you will have a search box to type in the player's name. If you type in Griffey, you get to see gallery photos of all of the Griffey card produced by etopps as in-hands. You simply select which one you want by clicking on the select button below the photo.

At first I thought they had scanned each in-hand but that didn't make sense. Brilliantly, they doctored each in-port card to look like the in-hand version. And this works.

They also will give you the option to include other photos for your in-hand in case you're not happy with what they provide, but I don't see how you would not want their photo image for your in-hand. I just can't believe no one cooked this up before for making an in-port look like an in-hand.

If the card is graded or autographed, you can pick these options for the card you select and this is when adding your own image comes in handy.

For graded etopps, you will enter the company that graded the card, the grade, the qualifiers and the serial number for the graded card.

In summary, it's great to see how much cardtarget has been working on this while keeping up with the quality website they continue to provide for us.

* * *

Subject:Production Update: Cards Available For Delivery for 10/9/08

The following cards are available for delivery on Thursday, October 9, 2008:


Albert Pujols 2008
Ken Griffey Jr. 2008
Jed Lowrie 2008
Denard Span 2008
Hanley Ramirez 2008
Chase Utley 2008
Ian Kennedy 2008
Justin Masterson 2008
Brandon Webb 2008
Chipper Jones 2008
Hiroki Kuroda 2008
Jeff Clement 2008
Derek Jeter 2008
Ryan Church 2008
Max Scherzer 2008
Joey Votto 2008
David Wright 2008
Edinson Volquez 2008
Luke Hochevar 2008
Matt Joyce 2008
Alex Rodriguez 2008
Evan Longoria 2008
Nate McLouth 2008
Greg Smith 2008
Geovany Soto 2008
Jay Bruce 2008
John Bowker 2008
Nick Evans 2008

We appreciate your patience. Please continue to check eTopps Updates for additional information.

The eTopps Team

Monday, October 6, 2008

Autograph Offering: Brandon Jacobs

A few Nationals ago, I was wandering around the show and found a dealer who was having a blow-out sale, trying to get rid of as many cards as possible before hopping on the next plane out of Anaheim.

I went through his scattered pile and found a Brandon Jacobs rookie auto card. It was from Upper Deck and was a sticker card. At the time he was the t0-be-determined back-up to Tiki Barber on the Giants who was deemed too tall/big to be an effective running back beyond short-yardage gains to reach a first down or the end zone.

I bought the card anyway and it sat on a shelf above my desk for awhile. About a year ago, when Jacobs became a starter I tried selling this sticker auto two times before leaving it in my store with a best offer. Finally someone bought it for $10, a few dollars over what I had paid for it.

I think if I had it again and tried selling it again, I would have gone through the same thing.

Jacobs is underrated due to his size. He's more like a Larry Csonka than a Tiki Barber. Nevertheless, on ebay you're not going to find many of his autos over what etopps is asking for at $40 a pop (total qty 50). Even sticker autos half the print run won't go over this price.

So if you're a believer in a big-bruiser of a running back or a fan of Big Blue, go bonkers and buy one. Just don't expect much from ebay in return for the time being...and don't forget the lovely COI (certificate of issuance) that will be included with the card.

* * *
Auctionbytes, an online newsletter about auctions and ecommerce, just did a positive write-up on Bonanzle that sums up the ecommerce site as simple to use
* * *

I don't do this often enough: here's a good example of an item description of a listing for a 2007 Adrian Peterson autographed in-hand. The seller did not have the COA for the autograph and did a nice job handling this in the listing

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - October 3

As of today, October 3 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 179
Sell-Through: 57.54%
Average starting price: $2.12
Average final price: $9.16

Highest Single Card Sale: 2001 Albert Pujols, $50
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2008 Allen & Ginter Yankee StadiumTribute Set, $222.25
Highest Graded Sale: 2008 Allen & Ginter Yankee Stadium Tribute Babe Ruth, PSA 10, $38.89
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: Classic Nolan Ryan, $78.99
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2007 Allen & Ginter John F. Kennedy
* 2007 Ben Roethlisberger
* 2001 Albert Pujols
* 2007 Tony Romo

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: (tie) Classic Mickey Mantle and Allen & Ginter Mileston Jim Thome 500 HRs, Bids: 11

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Video: Allen & Ginter Yankee Tribute Set

I recorded this video last night but youtube was down for maintenance. I used a webcam so the quality of the video isn't perfect.

If you plan to sell this set on ebay or online somewhere else, you have my permission to embed this video in your listing. I only ask in return that you provide a link back to this blog in the listing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Up & Coming Secondary Market: Bonanzle

I just added a new addition to the list of secondary markets on the right.

In search of alternatives to ebay as a user-friendly secondary marketplace, in a blog I subscribe to here's a good write-up about Bonanzle. Like all competitors of ebay, it's small in comparison but it's growing fast. Unlike Wigix where you have to create a template in order to either buy or sell an item, you can start selling by simply importing your ebay listings on Bonanzle.

When someone clicks on one of your listings, they see all of your listings in your booth (Bonanzle's version of an ebay store).

Listings are free with up to four photographs for the item.

Fees apply to final values:

Final Offer Value 1Fee
Less than $10$0.50
Less than $50$1
Less than $100$3
Less than $1000$5
$1000 or more$10

Another nice thing is you can accept Google Checkout as a payment along with paypal.

I found 16 listings for etopps when I typed in this word in their search box.

If you decide to register and list in-hands (or anything imported from ebay), post here what it was like for you.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wigix, Autograph Offering: Favre-Fest

I admit the requirement to list an etopps in-hand on Wigix is unusual to say the least even though it is being done on Amazon. I'm sure this is reflected in the poll. Even though more people signed up with the website than voted, Wigix may not be for everyone and that's fine.

Just keep in mind to form a template of a card you want to list before you can start selling it.

On Wednesday I'll post about another online secondary market that (hopefully) will require less work to list cards.

* * *

Once again there are delivery delays for in-hands. This time it is 2008 Baseball:

Due to production issues beyond our control, etopps is experiencing delays on delivery of the following cards:

2008 Baseball

Jimmy Rollins 2008
Carlos Quentin 2008
Clayton Kershaw 2008
Seth Smith 2008
Joe Saunders 2008
Tim Lincecum 2008
Alexei Ramirez 2008
Armando Galarraga 2008
Cole Hamels 2008
Carlos Gonzalez 2008
Charlie Morton 2008
Cliff Lee 2008
Max Ramirez 2008
Brandon Jones 2008
Jair Jurrjens 2008
Brett Gardner 2008
Chris Davis 2008
C.C. Sabathia 2008
Chris Volstad 2008
Steve Pearce 2008
Jeff Samardzija 2008
Taylor Teagarden 2008
Clayton Richard 2008
Manny Ramirez 2008
Ivan Rodriguez 2008
Jason Bay 2008
Gio Gonzalez 2008
Mark Teixeira 2008
Cliff Pennington 2008
Daniel Murphy 2008
Greg Maddux 2008
Adam Dunn 2008
Daric Barton 2008

We expect to have these cards available for delivery on Monday, October 20th. Please continue to check eTopps Updates for additional information.


etopps Team

* * *

Etopps surprised its community by offering not one but two Brett Favre autographs, 25 of the 2006 and 25 of the 2007. Both cards at $149.99 each. Along with this Favre will be offered during this week's IPO in a Jet uniform.

Only caveat to Favre's autograph offering is he's now a Jet. I always have qualms about how sellable an autograph is if the player goes to another team (I brought this up when I reviewed Josh Hamilton earlier this year after being traded from the Reds to the Rangers in the off-season.) But if the player is good enough or great enough (like Favre), I don't think there's much to worry about.

I'd be worried more about getting one when they become available at 3pm EST on Thursday (10/2).

So beyond etopps-land, is this worth getting? After doing my usual search on ebay, here's what I found: for 2006 and 2007 autos of Favre, most of what I've seen on ebay are stickers on cards and are nearing the price that etopps is asking. With the combined demand for Favre's auto, his first etopps auto and the fact that the signature will be on the card with his jersey number, it's a safe bet that both of these will do well on the secondary market.

* * *

Cal Ripken Jr. will be signing at the

If you live in NJ or the general area, bring your Cal Ripken etopps in-hand with you to Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ at the home of the Yogi Berra Museum. Cal will be signing autographs at the museum on Tuesday, November 11th from 1-3pm. He will only be signing 500 items. What's cool is pre-orders are encouraged and accepted: 973-655-2378.

I highly recommend the museum. It's loaded with Yankee history and rare memorabilia. Last year I pre-ordered Don Mattingly signing his book on hitting. When I went to the museum to pick up the book, I got a chance to see Yogi Berra.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - September 26

As of today, September 26 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 261
Sell-Through: 37.17%
Average starting price: $1.96
Average final price: $11.76

Highest Single Card Sale: 2008 Allen & Ginter Barack Obama, $57
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2004 15-card English Football Set, $26.99
Highest Graded Sale: 2001 Albert Pujols, PSA 9, $34.33
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2005 Alex Rodriguez 10 Rod Event, $300
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2007 Adrian Peterson
* 2003 LeBron James
* 2001 Vernon Wells
* 2003 Dwyane Wade

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2007 Dustin Pedroia Autograph, Bids: 14

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A& G Yankee Tribute Set Delay, WIGIX Update & Poll

This was posted today in the updates section on the etopps website:

Please be aware that eTopps Allen & Ginter Yankee Satdium Tribute sets were printed on schedule but after reviewing the cards in person, we felt the quantity was not up to eTopps standards and therefore made the decision to re-print the cards. This decision has lead to a production delay and for this we apologize, but the eTopps team is dedicated to delivering a quality product. The sets are now nearing completion and will be available for delivery mid to late October.

Please continue to check eTopps Updates for additional information.

Again, we apologize for the delay, and we appreciate your patience.

The eTopps Team

* * *

Last night I got moving on becoming the category expert guy for etopps basketball and hockey. I also approved a listing for the A &G Yankee tribute set that was distributed at the National and tried out listing one of my etopps cards I have listed on ebay. Here's the listing I did last night.

I noticed on the listing there was no mention of payment methods or anything. That should have been a red flag for me but since I was falling-down tired I waited to see what would happen next.

This morning I received a lot of emails related to wigix. The one that stood out the most was from the Director of the Catalog on Wigix:

I just noticed that the "ETOPPS ALLEN GINTER 2008 NATIONAL PROMO SET W/RUTH" page was added to the etopps category recently. However, some of the contents are not conforming with the Wigix standards and need to be corrected.

Basically, the major difference between Wigix and eBay is that our catalog is a generic one that can be used by everyone for different purposes. "Listing a page" does NOT mean list a product for sale, it's only the first step - to build the catalog. Owner- or Seller-specific information can only be filled in when you add the item to your portfolio and place a sell order on it. Therefore, all the contents in the item page need to be objective, third-person, instead of being specific and personal. Information about shipping & handling, item condition, guarantee, etc, shall strictly be excluded. Watermaked images shall also never appear on our site for copyright concerns (the image of the above item contains eBay watermark).

Please read the following guidelines for more detail if you haven't done so.

- The Guidelines for Item Submission (
- The Guidelines for Approving Item Submissions (

Let me know if you have further questions.

Thank you very much!

Rena He Huang
Director of Catalog

Wigix, Inc.
Keeping fees at bay…

So in a nutshell, I listed my in-hand as if it was on ebay and even copy and pasted the photo I used from my ebay listing while in fact I was only entering an in-hand to build the etopps catalog.


Aside from my mistake this shows that Wigix is very web 2.0 in which we would be sharing information about the in-hand cards. And why not? When you look at the listings for the same exact in-hand on ebay the only differences are price, shipping, item description and seller's feedback rating.

So why not create a catalog of templates?
Because it's a lot of work. I don't want to guess how many hours building the etopps catalog on cardtarget has taken.

They're not trying to re-create the wheel here. Amazon is already doing this. 31 in-hands are listed on Amazon as templates.

But here's the incentive with wigix that makes it better than Amazon: they award you ownership rights for a template. Any transaction on wigix for the in-hand card that you created the template for, you will get a percentage of the revenue. I believe it's 5%. Here's info on this.

I would love to do this all by myself, get the whole etopps catalog listed, rake in all that dough (not!). But I can't. Since I introduced Wigix here, a number of you have registered already.

I am going to open a poll on whether this seems like something worth pursuing or not with either a yes or a no.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Autograph Offering: Marion Barber

What do you get when 10% of an already-accumulated non-rookie card is offered as an autograph for the price of the card if it wasn't autographed? A bad deal.

As an in-hand an etopps autograph seller, the only way I would buy this one would be if I got this card for free in the catalog.

The timing of this autograph offering couldn't be better. Barber had a great game last night against Packers.

However, Marion Barber's rookie card was in 2005. What value can his 2007 card hold? Don't tell me--I know:
  • It's his only etopps card
  • It's a low print run (499)
  • It's an endangered species (read it's being accumulated so the price is inflated)
  • He's a Cowboy
But let's take a look at how he's done as a 2007 autographed card on ebay.

I used the words Marion Barber auto 2007 in the search box. I clicked on completed auctions and sorted them from highest to lowest.

As expected, a non-rookie auto card is more dependent on quantity of total autographs offered.

The highest selling one that sold was a Sweet Spot auto helmet that went for $60 and was #4 of 5 auto cards signed. The second highest was a Gridiron Dual Jersey Auto (#1/3) that went for $47 and a Donruss Threads Auto /10 went for $36.

The highest selling one that had a run of 50 in 2007 was 2007 National Treasures which ended at $21.49.

Nevertheless there are etopps members who are fans of the Cowboys and Barber who may pay more than what these cards go for, especially since this one is signed on the card rather than on a sticker which appears to be the pattern for a lot of the cards that have been listed for Barber.

So if you do choose to purchase this card to flip either as a pre-sell or when you get it shipped to you and it sells, don't expect your buyer to be oblivious of etopps.

Rather than overpay for the card and auto combined, save your money for the Allen & Ginter Terry Bradshaw that will be offered soon. When you click on the pigskin challenge on the home page, you will be able to open a page to see what the prizes will be for the games. Scroll down the list. First you'll see the Namath A & G and then farther down you'll see the Bradshaw A &G offered as one of the weekly prizes. It'll cost the same as Namath but will be worth the money.


Wigix update: I'll be listing an etopps in-hand or two and will post the link on Wednesday. There are already listings for etopps football cards, all from the same seller, the category guru for football cards.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - September 19

As of today, September 19 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 273
Sell-Through: 40.29%
Average starting price: $2.09
Average final price: $7.40

Highest Single Card Sale: 2007 Joba Chamberlain, $36.77
Highest Mult-Card Sale: (5) 2001 Albert Pujols, $158
Highest Graded Sale: 2008 Allen & Ginter Babe Ruth National Promo, PSA 10, $62.01
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2002 Emmitt Smith, $85.07
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2001 Patrick Roy
* 2005 David Wright
* 2008 Allen & Ginter John McCain
* 2008 Johan Santana

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: (5) 2001 Albert Pujols, Bids: 15

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WIGIX Update

An update is long overdue about the Want It Got It Exchange website or

Since introducing Wigix here, I have been doing some back and forth with the staff at wigix for setting up categories and what they call attributes (year of the card, player's name, specific things similar to ebay like grading, serialized, manufacturer, etc.).

For some reason, I wasn't getting notified by email when a Wigix staff member sent me an email in my Wigix inbox. Scrolling through the back-and-forth messages, a week would pass before they responded while other times it would take less than a day to get back to me on a question or submission I had.

At one point, there was a huge lag when I depended on my gmail inbox to tell me I had a message from the Wigix staff because it never came.

Since then, I have logged into my account almost every day. Yesterday I worked on the attributes as mentioned above and this morning I received an email notification in my gmail inbox that I had a message waiting for me in my Wigix account. Go figure.

Nevertheless, I hope we can start listing in-hands on Wigix soon, perhaps within the next week. Once this is a Go, I will post here and will list a few in-hands to see how it happens and will report back here how listing a card went.

Kudos to all of those who have signed up for Wigix. I appreciate your patience.

Enjoy the video:

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Autograph Offering: Anthony Gonzalez

It's too bad etopps didn't continue to include the back of the card with the autograph scan. I thought it was a nice touch last week for the Namath auto.

Up for grabs is the first rookie autograph offering for Thursday, September 18th at 3pm EST.

For only $44.99 each, you can order up to 3 of these. The total quantity is an even 100. And judging by the appearance of the scanned signature, I can see why none were rejected. It's a fresh, clean autograph that's only missing his jersey number next to his name.

I'm not bullish on this first autograph. Gonzalez does a good job as one of Peyton's weapons but I would have chosen another rookie to start the football autograph season. For the price, it's not bad. His Exquisite rookie patch auto sold recently on ebay for $117.90 with a print run of $99. But others haven't sold as well:
2007 UD Trilogy graded BGS 9.5/Auto 10.0 /99 went for only $3 more than etopps' offering.
2007 UD Premiere Auto Jersey /125 only $24.50.

The problem with this initial FB autograph offering during the football season is the good rookies were taken last year: Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch.

Who can we expect? JaMarcus Russell, Trent Edwards, Selvin Young, Brady Quinn and Calvin Johnson probably.

Will we have more Allen & Ginter Superbowl Champions after Joe Namath? And what about the veteran players? I'd love to see Tony Romo, Brett Favre, Aaron Rogers or Philip Rivers.

Or will etopps offer a few of the better rookies for this year like McFadden, Ryan or a rookie who hasn't made a statement yet.

I would rather save my money for something better than this autograph unless you like the Colts, Gonzalez, wide receivers, any auto offered by etopps. And good luck flipping this based on what other autos have sold for on ebay recently -- oh whoops, I almost forgot--this is etopps so any auto will sell out in minutes and will double your money on the flip on the 'bay.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - September 12

As of today, September 12 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 352
Sell-Through: 42.05%
Average starting price: $1.94
Average final price: $22.12

Highest Single Card Sale: Allen & Ginter Barack Obama, $57
Highest Mult-Card Sale: 2007 Allen & Ginter Milestones & Moments Set, $75
Highest Graded Sale: 2001 Albert Pujols, PSA 10, $152.49
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2002 Tom Brady, $137.50
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

* 2007 Adrian Peterson
* 2008 Allen & Ginter John McCain
* 2007 Dustin Pedroia
* 2008 Joey Votto

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2008 John McCain, Bids: 16

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Autograph Offering: (Pricing Theories) Allen & Ginter Joe Namath

Kudos goes to Mark for keeping his promise. Those in attendance at this summer's econ in Chicago voted for the Allen & Ginter Superbowl Champs cards to be autographed and it looks like this is going to happen. This is the first Allen & Ginter football card to be autographed ever. (It's beyond me why Topps has not introduced an Allen & Ginter football set yet.)

Of all of the Superbowl Champs cards, Namath is probably the least popular. Smart move on etopps part to have this as the first one introduced and the first football autograph offering for the start of the season.

Only problem is the price: $179. There have already been rumblings on the message board on this price. If Namath is at this price, it'll be interesting to see how much others will cost (like Montana) if etopps carries out their promise and offers the entire set one card at a time.

I've got a few theories why the price is so high:
  • Namath only signed 38 out of 50 or 100 cards that were legible and charged by the card regardless of the quality of his signature so etopps had to eat the cost.
  • Someone at Topps crunched the numbers for how etopps has done in the last year and saw that there was room for profit in the autograph department, especially since there were some low-budget auto offerings for this past baseball season.
  • Eisner got word that Namath was signing and when he found out etopps was only charging $99 (which they should), Eisner said, "that's it?"
  • Topps got word that Namath will be holding a press conference some time during this football season to make a prediction that dwarfs the one that made him famous: when he will die. Since this will be happening in the next six months, Topps knew that his autograph will go up in price and legitimizes the extra $80 cost per auto.
  • It's a typo. It should really be $79.
  • Etopps is banking on the listing freeze. No one bought any cards for more than a week. Registered members are bound to have more cash on hand to spend.
  • There will be a surprise bonus that will go along with buying the auto. Namath will call you and tell you he doesn't want to kiss you.
  • Etopps will include a swatch card of Namath's fur coat.
Have a theory? Submit it by clicking on the word comments.

Two more days left for taking the poll for your favorite baseball in-hand design.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How To Get 5-Star Ratings From Me For An In-Hand On Ebay

Thanks for voting in the poll about which is your favorite in-port baseball design. The clear winner was 2001.

From the message board over the years while in-port designs held certain opinions, there have been threads to descibe how well a particular year's design looks in-hand. What comes to mind is the 2004 design: some couldn't stand it as an in-port while others preferred how the design looked in-hand. Cast your vote in which is your favorite in-hand design by year.


For one penny, we are back up and running to list in-port cards starting officially as of 1pm est today. I can't believe it took this long to reach this solution but what do I know. It's a programming issue so building in a penny cost to the listing template could be like rocket science, especially if no one at etopps management has looked under the hood of the template since it was first built.

I listed some cards when it became available and noticed that the cards I listed were going up on ebay within 15 minute intervals. I also noticed they updated the optional picture gallery as being free rather than claiming the old cost of thirty-five cents.


I've focused a lot on selling in-hands on this blog. For a change, I want to give some kind of perspective for the other side of in-hands: buying them.

Here's what I expect when I buy an in-hand on ebay:
  • The condition of the card is in genuine mint condition as stated in the listing. If not, the listing should clearly state if it is not and (possibly) for what reason.
  • The cost of shipping is not ridiculous (i.e., over $3).
  • The picture looks like the condition of the card I will be receiving, not a copy and paste job from cardtarget or etopps of the in-port picture of the card. In other words, I want to see what I'm getting.
  • Feedback from the seller is given by the time the seller has packaged the card for shipment.
  • Delivery confirmation is used via paypal so I know when the card is shipped.
  • Shipping should be no more than 48 hours from the time I pay for the card and when it is shipped. Anything more than 48 hours without an explanation by the seller is inexcusable unless I purchase the card in the late afternoon on a Friday and the shipping is done the following Monday.
  • An email from the seller acknowledging payment, when the card will be shipped and thanking me for their business. (Pet peeve is a seller who does not communicate anything)
  • The card is shipped in a bubble-lined mailer
  • If my mailing address is hand-written, I expect the mailer to write my address exactly as I have provided it through paypal (ie, mistaking the letter S for the number 5 in my street address).
When all of this goes well, I am happy to give the seller 5-star ratings for each category. Otherwise, I'm not going to be 100% satisfied.

If I forgot anything that you expect as a buyer of an in-hand on ebay, please add your comments.