Friday, May 30, 2008

Ebay Coupon, Friday Marketwatch - May 30

Ebay is offering a 10% off coupon through June 4th for one item (up to $100) discount. Here are the terms:

Here's how to redeem this offer:
Go to and log in.
Start shopping. Be sure the seller accepts PayPal.
Pay for your item with PayPal before the expiration date: June 4, 2008 11:59:59 PM PDT.
(Make sure the email address on your eBay account is also on your PayPal account. Find out how.)
Enter the redemption code: C2MAY0810P

*Important Terms & Conditions
The offer will expire at 11:59:59 PM PDT on June 4, 2008. Discount applies to the purchase price (excluding shipping, handling, and taxes) of a single item on Recipients of the coupon must be registered eBay members and pay for the item with PayPal. If actual discounted amount is less than maximum discount indicated on the coupon, the unused portion will be forfeited.

The coupon is non-transferable, void where prohibited, not redeemable for cash, for one-time use only, and has no face value. The coupon is subject to U.S. laws and cannot be combined with any other coupon. The coupon may be combined with eBay Gift Certificates and Gift Cards. eBay reserves the right to cancel, amend, or revoke the coupon at any time. Use of automated devices or programs to redeem the coupon is prohibited.

As of today, May 30 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 369
Sell-Through: 32.25
Average starting price: $1.72
Average final price: $9.04

Highest Single Card Sale: 2001 Peyton Manning $22.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: Mickey Mantle Set, $207.59
Highest Graded Sale: 2001 Kobe Bryant BGS 9.5, $21.95
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2000 Peyton Manning, $179.50
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

  • 2006 Manny Ramirez
  • Allen & Ginter Bill Clinton
  • Allen & Ginter Hillary Clinton
  • 2005 Melky Cabrera

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: Mickey Mantle Set, 20 Bids.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Autograph Offering: Joba (finally)

Since the autographs for 07 Baseball started with Alex Gordon in March, etoppers have anticipating Joba each week and finally etopps is offering this at quite a reasonable price tomorrow at 3PM.

For just $80 you have a chance of ordering one of the 100 autos that will sell as fast as Joba's meteoric rise that has had legs throughout the off-season and these legs may get stronger since he'll be transitioning to becoming a starting pitcher for the Yankees.

Etopps may have chosen the right time to sell this card, when he is making this transition. While it will sell well out of the pre-sell starting gate, by the time this auto is shipped we may have a better picture about how Joba transitions as a starter and if he does well, this auto may be better as a hold than flipping.

Like with other hot-selling autos, it's hard to compare to the cardboard variations (sticker vs. on-the-card signature) along with graded autos and ones that are and are not his true rookie. In the last two weeks on ebay, sales for his 2007 cards have ranged from mid-$100 up to the BGS 10 graded going for $465.

What makes this one appealing:
  • Yankees card
  • Rookie
  • RRO
  • Hype/Potential
Long-term hold is a question mark. The young Yankee starting pitchers have not been promising so far. Both Kennedy and Hughes have ended up on the DL this season and Hughes is making his second trip on the DL. Though you never know. Chamberlain may be the piece of thestarting pitcher puzzle the Yankees have been looking for to win another World Series some day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Preparation For A Card Show: Presentation Tools

Since I have had most of my card show selling experiences with two other etopps members, when I refer to "we" I am including these other two guys and myself. It would be unsportsmanlike to take full credit for what we did together.

There are some things you need to bring with you to a card show that you don't realize until you get there or after the show. This list is for those who are going solo and should take quantity into account if the reader is going to be doing a show in collaboration with other etopps in-hand sellers.
  • Chairs - the promoter may not provide them for you and I'm sure you will not be crazy about standing for 5-7 hours.
  • Extra table. You need to put your inventory somewhere and it's not in your best interest to be bending down to the floor, especially when there can be a few people at your table browsing. Turning your back isn't the best either if you have your inventory table behind you when you face your customers but it's better than the floor. This is when a second seller comes in handy. You can always have one of you eyeing the customers. And yes, cards can have legs and walk off or find their way into fast hands.
  • Plastic bags - you'd be surprised how many times we were asked this after a purchase. We always brought a box of plastic t-shirt bags to accommodate customers and they would appreciate this, especially those who bought three or more etopps cards.
  • Food & Water - you never know where you can buy food for lunch. Some time and money by bringing a sandwich and beverages. It's not fun trying to explain how the etopps program works with a dry mouth.
  • Change of a $20 - it's not fun being handed a $20 bill for your first four sales. You have to have enough singles and fives. There have been at least a few shows in which one of us would walk around trying to make change to get singles. They can run out fast.
  • Pad of paper and pen - Write down each sale you make. If you're selling with more than one person this is more important to figure out who made which sale.
  • Reading material - if it's dead, have a back-up plan to kill the time. It could be a long afternoon.
  • Table covering (or table cloth) - without one, you will look like an amateur and will not be given the time of day. Best to have a black table cloth that drapes over the front of the table(s).
  • Card baggies - you know, those little bags each etopps card comes with when shipped to you. Include one with each purchase.

Now here is a list of tools to bring to make your card show more successful:
  • Price Guide - if you don't price each individual card, you need a price guide to look up what each card sells that you should prepare in advance, perhaps days in advance in order to tinker with it. You will probably have to adjust prices on the fly depending on the pattern of selling and the demand for certain cards. You can adjust pricing based on supply of a card or if a player is in demand, for example.
  • Print Run List - there are some who may not care about print runs but it's always good to be able to inform the customer the print run of an etopps card from before 2004 (if you are selling these).
  • Email List - make sure you have customers or interested browsers put down their name and email to notify them when you will be returning to the same card show or for others in the area. We produced a newsletter that showed the latest etopps in-hands available and had pre-sells of Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams before etopps made them available for delivery.
  • Card stands - The one thing you cannot do at a card show is lay the etopps cards flat on the table. That's a big No-No. They reflect off the ceiling lights and will not put the cards in a good light. Invest in individual card stands. Include them with each purchase. Present them the way you would want to see them. Having them face up on the table is lazy.
  • Display stands - This should probably be one of your biggest investments, whether the cardboard variety or ones made of wood or metal. We were able to get a couple of display towers that had five rows of cards and could fit about 30 cards on each. They weren't fun to put together and break down for each show but they did the trick: making the customer see the cards we put on them: rookies, hot selling-cards, team cards and plenty of local team all-stars. The worst ones to put together were the cardboard display stands. Worse than root canal.
  • Secure display case - Another big investment but worth it. This is when sharing the cost with another seller or two comes in handy. If you are doing a show that is more than one day, you can either bring the more expensive cards (autos) home with you or lock them up in a display case. At most shows, security keep a watchful eye on dealers' inventories so this is not usually a problem. They can cost up to $100 but when you have a lot of traffic, you don't have to worry as much. They also look better when you have a black felt fabric to put the cards on. We had a little display case under glass that held together with velcro but the case was so crowded with our autographed and graded in-hands that we decided to get a larger display case. It definitely gave us peace of mind.
  • Go the extra mile - some etoppers received a blow-up poster of etopps cards from past Nationals. Post a request to buy one on the etopps message board. Put it in a poster frame and place it in front of your table.
  • Discount Box - everyone is looking for bargains and so will your customers. If you have excessive amounts 2002-04, offer them in a discount box, charge 3 for $10.
  • Promotions - the sky is the limit with this one. We had a giveaway at shows. If a customer bought $25 or some other minimum, we had a grab bag promotion. We placed cards in a box in bubble mailers and held the box over the customer's head. They picked out a free card from the box.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - May 23

As of today, May 23 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 193
Sell-Through: 42.49%
Average starting price: $3.62
Average final price: $11.10

Highest Single Card Sale: 2006 Jon Lester $22.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: Lot of 33 etopps cards $210.22
Highest Graded Sale: 2001 Kobe Bryant BGS 10, $399.95
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: CTNW Stan Musial, $175
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

  • 2003 LeBron James
  • 2005 Chris Paul
  • Walter Payton

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 33 Card Etopps Lot, 20 Bids.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Autograph Offering: Hideki Okajima

As stated on the etopps message board, this is the first time etopps is offering a Japanese player. Chien Ming Wang is from Taiwan.

Here's what I like about this autograph:
  • It's a genuine rookie card in the hobby
  • It appeals to the Japanese
  • It's a Red Sox player (which has a respectable following nationwide
  • It's quite reasonable, only a penny shy of $30
So how does the market like Okajima?

To put it bluntly, there's not much love. Unless he was a starter or reliever, his auto would have more appeal.

The offering by etopps is actually on the high-side of how his sales have been on ebay. His rookie auto sells on average $25. There were less than two dozen listings but at least all of them sold by bid rather than fixed price.

I would think twice about flipping this card. It's got sexy written all over it for etoppers but beyond etoppsland - not that much.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Which Etopps Cards To Sell At A Card Show?

When deciding which cards to sell and in preparation for a show, stock up on the local teams of all sports of all years, especially the most recent. Don't forget the team cards, especially the football team cards with rookie players on them. You can sell them with the rookie card and offer a discount if bought together.

Now is the time to create your wish list on cardtarget before shopping. If you have time, set up buy orders at the price points you're willing to pay. Trade away cards you don't think will sell at the show on the trading post for ones that are more of a sure-bet for your area. See if you can get a good deal on an in-hand from ebay to save on shipping fees. (This is when it's advantageous to have a lot of reward points in your account so you can save on shipping fees.) Even post your in-hand wants on the etopps message board with your asking prices.

When it comes to quantity of a player, don't go nuts on a hot player. If this is your first show, you have no idea yet what will sell. I wouldn't order more than 3 of any card.

If three of one title sells, you can sell to the next person who wants it by taking down their email and mailing address and shipping it to them at a later time. By accepting their payment for the card at the show, you're already on your way to starting mail orders. I'll discuss more about this in future posting(s).

From my experiences in selling at card shows, the sport that is in season usually is what will sell the most. And football. You can sell football any time of year. If the card show is focused on baseball or football, follow the trend and stock up more on this sport than other sports.

Another factor for determining which cards to sell can be based on who will be signing at the card show. If you have a card for someone who is signing, you should have at least one of their etopps cards in case someone is looking for a something to have the player sign. I've seen this happen a good number of times but it will not happen every time.

You also want to gravitate towards the teams and players who are performing well this season or did well last season.

You also want to stock up on a lot of Classics. People love these cards. I've seen one person at a show criticize etopps cards and wouldn't stop blabbering until he saw the Thurman Munson classic card. He shifted gears and started gushing over how beautiful the card looked.

If people collect for the history of a sport, you have to have classics for your area and beyond, especially Yankees. Since etopps has a lot of Yankees titles, it will look good to have Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Munson, Roger Maris and Mattingly all lined up in a row. You'll be surprised how much a row of classic etopps cards can do for your table.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - May 16

As of today, May 16 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 234
Sell-Through: 54.27%
Average starting price: $2.17
Average final price: $11.03

Highest Single Card Sale: Allen & Ginter, Joe Montana $39.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: Mickey Mantle Set, $381.34
Highest Graded Sale: 2001 Albert Pujols, BGS 9, $53.01
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: Willie Mays, $200
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

  • Hillary Clinton, Allen & Ginter
  • Barack Obama, Allen & Ginter
  • 2006 Brandon Roy
  • 2005 Chris Paul
  • World Series Perfection (Don Larsen)

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: Allen & Ginter Barack Obama, 13 Bids.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Only $29.99 for a 20-letter long name of a player, not bad.

It will be available the usual time, Thursday at 3PM EST.

And etopps is allowing a maximum of 3 per account. They know better.

Last year for a brief time "Salty" was hyped on the Braves even though McCann was and still is their catcher. The Braves proved this in the off-season by trading him. Like Josh Hamilton, you're getting his card from last year's team.

Looking at how his autograph has sold, it looks like the best one is from 2003 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Sticker Auto. One that was BGS 9.5 with the auto getting a 10 sold for $52 recently.

Don't get me wrong that if you tried flipping this auto, it will most likely sell if you have it as an auction but if you ask too high at a fixed price without best offer, you may be wasting money with the listing fee.

This is definitely a hold if Salty can have a good year and sell into September. Otherwise, don't expect much in return except for the eager etopps auto collectors (who like long last-named players).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Primer to Selling In-Hands At A Card Show

There are a lot of things to consider when taking the plunge to sell in-hands at a cards show. Over the years, advice has been sprinkled on the etopps message boards that pertained to the etopps booth at the National or from the experience of those who sold at small, local card shows.

Whether considering a local show or one of the bigger ones, planning is key.

If you're just starting out, go slow unless you've sold at card shows in the past. Choose a show nearby that you may have attended as a buyer.

If you have never been to a card show, it's mainly a set of tables like at an arts & crafts show except the items for sale are sports cards and memorabilia. There may be an admission fee. If so, it's likely someone famous or not-so-famous in the sports world is doing a signing.

You may already know about card shows near you. If not, check the latest Beckett pricing guide magazine. In the back, you can find listings of upcoming card shows by state. Sometimes they give the cost per table in the listing. You can also try

Once you find ones in your area, call the promoter that's listed with the show details. Ask for the cost of a table, the size of the table and whether or not there is a discount for buying a second table. You also want to inquire if the promoter does other shows in your area in case these are not listed in the Beckett magazine or the website I provided.

If the promoter has a card show on a regular basis (once or twice a month), find out if there is a discount on buying a table for a certain number of weeks ahead of time. I wouldn't go further than this about commiting to more than one show. It's good just to get an idea. You also want to inquire about how and when payment is made.

Do your homework on the best table deal and go with that. You'll have to make a certain amount to break even. This may have an influence on how you price your cards for the show. (More on this in upcoming postings.)

The reality of card shows nowadays is they are the bottom-feeder of autograph shows. If you are able to afford doing a card show that also includes autograph signings of retired (or active) professional athletes, you will see that there are some people who attend these shows just for the purpose of the signature. They walk in, get their item signed and walk out.

If the player(s) who are signing are big names, you can expect a good showing of people waiting around ahead of time who have nothing better to do than to go browsing to kill the time. Or the ones who got the autograph they wanted and decide to look around. Hopefully neither the admission fee nor the price of the autograph will have put too much of a dent into their wallets. I'll go more into the types of customers you can encounter in the future postings.

Once you have chosen a show, make sure it's at least a few weeks away if not more. There's a lot of planning to do as mentioned. And the next posting about this on Monday will outline how to get ready.

For those who have experience in selling at card shows, feel free to add your tips, advice, or experiences in the comments section.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - May 9

As of today, May 9 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 313
Sell-Through: 52.08%
Average starting price: $3.25
Average final price: $8.41

Highest Single Card Sale: Allen & Ginter, Barack Obama $49.99
Highest Mult-Card Sale: Allen & Ginter Presidents & Candidates Sets, $220.00
Highest Graded Sale: 1994 Alex Rodriguez CTNW, BGS 9, $27
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 1967 Nolan Ryan CTNW, $189.95
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

  • John McCain Allen & Ginter
  • 2001 Barry Bonds
  • Tori Wilson Autograph
  • 2007 Adrian Peterson
  • 2001 Drew Bledsoe

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2007 Mark Reynolds, 11 Bids.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Now Boarding...the Tim Lincecum Express

Move over, Fred. Make room, Josh. Here comes the Tim Lincecum Express, departing at 3PM sharp on Thursday, 5/8. Tickets just to get on the train platform when it arrives have been selling from the mid $50s all the way up to almost $100 already.

Some say there have been more platform tickets than the 95 seats available for this train. We asked Head Conductor Serper if this was true but he had no comment.

Nevertheless, it should be quite a ride on the ebay Fixed Listing Line. People are already saying you should buckle-up this time to avoid whiplash. The last two trains that left had good starts but didn't really go as fast as people were hoping. There was even a false start on the ebay line for claiming the autograph will be available outside ebay train track policy. That got squashed pretty easily.

Without a doubt the new time departure for this train will sure be worthwhile for those on the west coast who no longer have to wake up so early to get a seat on this train. In the past, they had to be ready by 10AM PST but now they've got a better chance just as lunch is approaching.

From what I've heard, potential passengers are optimistic the latest software will be "glitch-less" in the two-minutes or less it will take for all 95 lucky ticket-holders to claim a seat.

If you just climbed out from under a rock, there will be 95 doors that will open at the same time on this train at 3pm. Allowing only one person to enter per door.

You better jump on as soon as those doors open. And if you think you've got a second shot by going back to the end of the line, think'll be left stranded. In other words, it's Ride or Go Home.

But don't worry, folks. Rumor has it the Joba Express will show up ... some day.

Reporting live from Etopps Central Station ... back to you, Jim.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Within and Without Ebay

I had a situation on ebay recently in which the winning bidder of a live auction had emailed me through ebay, saying in so many words that they had made a mistake, bidding on my item by accident and didn't want it. I wrote back saying all they needed to do was retract their bid and I included the link on ebay to do so. The real problem was the bid was placed within 12 hours of the end of the listing and the bidder couldn't retract the bid. There were already about 10 bids placed so I didn't think it was wise to pull the auction.

When the auction ended, this bidder won the auction. I emailed asking the bidder to pay at least my final value fee since I was the one paying for their mistake. But I didn't receive a response.

I thought about giving the person negative feedback. I considered opening up a dispute to give them a strike. I waited for their response. A day passed and and still no reply, as if their apology meant they were off the hook and could move on.

I came close to sending them a "now-you-lookie-here" toned email. But instead, I decided to open up a dispute, wait the required seven days and then close it to get my final value fee and they would get a strike against them.

I went to the dispute link and drilled down to what I was looking for with all of the options they had. I decided to go exploring and to see if I could find something else that would be helpful.

And I did. I discovered I could easily close the transaction if the buyer and I decide not to move forward. The option is called "the buyer and I mutually agree not to complete the transaction." I closed the transaction this way and the winning bidder got an email from ebay so they could confirm this was true, giving reason why they didn't want the item and I got my fees refunded.


The best alternative to ebay for selling etopps in-hands is not online. With some diligence, planning and salesmanship, selling in-hands at card shows can be quite successful.

In the upcoming weeks, I will cover the many aspects to executing a profitable (and fun) card show selling experience.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Marketwatch - May 2

As of today, May 2 the following are stats covering the last 7 days on ebay for etopps in-hands:

Quantity of etopps in-hands listings: 293
Sell-Through: 35.49%
Average starting price: $3.83
Average final price: $12.21

Highest Single Card Sale: 2001 Albert Pujols, $79.95
Highest Mult-Card Sale: lot of 131 etopps in-hands (various), $157.50
Highest Graded Sale: 2003 LeBron James BGS 9.5, $50
Highest Non-Graded Autograph Sale: 2007 Justin Upton $250.00
Highest Graded Autograph Sale: None

Other best sellers:

  • Joba Chamberlain
  • Barack Obama Allen & Ginter
  • 1952 Mickey Mantle reprint
  • John McCain Allen & Ginter
  • Alex Rodriguez CTNW 1994

In-hand listing (not including graded or autographed) that received most bids that sold well: 2003 LeBron James, 18 Bids.