In the vast landscape of the sports card market, where headlines often scream about record-breaking sales, a quieter yet transformative opportunity exists to sell cards for just a few dollars each.
While the Honus Wagner T206 might dominate the spotlight with a record sale of over 6.6 million dollars, this article delves into the overlooked but powerful potential of creating winnable, consistent small sales.
This article will go over the ups and downs of selling low-end sports cards, the mental model it takes to stay competitive in the growing sports card market, and what you need to be successful in selling low-end cards.
Memorable Lesson from High School: Consistency Matters Most
Reflecting on my high school days, my math teacher said, "If I had a dollar for every time I had to repeat myself, I'd be rich."
It was about something other than the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of his lessons. Instead, it was about a valuable lesson in consistency and how small things add up.
This concept also relates to selling low-end sports cards—where repeat small sales can transform a store into a resilient business that outlasts competitors.
Building a loyal customer base through repeat business provides a sustainable way to earn income over the long run.
When I first introduced the idea of selling low-end sports cards to friends and family, I'd often hear, 'Why, it's only a dollar?', 'You have a dollar store, not a card shop,' or 'You need to raise your prices.'
No one understood my logic, I would explain—the secret lies in the power of repeat customers.
Turning a $2 sale today into another $2 sale next week is a victory. Over time, these customers become fans and trusted evangelists, ensuring the business's longevity. It's not about the immediate $2; it's about accumulating $10 or $15 over time.
It'll take a $2 sale from a new customer today and a $10 order from a repeat customer tomorrow. If you treat every customer with the highest level of care and respect, they'll come back. And when they do, their order will be bigger than the last one.
It will continue to snowball, and that's what I'm looking for. I'm not trying to be the biggest store on the planet of the nation- just a store prioritizing customer satisfaction.
The Long Game Mentality: CLV is Everything.
Playing the long game is essential in selling low-dollar sports cards, which involves recognizing the inherent grind and energy required for such endeavors. Success in this niche market demands patience and a considerable time commitment.
A common misconception is that the inventory will only take up a little space and it'll sell quickly. Well, it's the complete opposite. You'll need to dedicate a room to store your inventory, and you'll need to stay committed even when items aren't selling or you're in a slowdown season.
If you can understand, the real rewards come to those who persevere over the long term.
That's why one of the most critical metrics NowCollectibles focuses on is Customer Lifetime Value.
What Is CLV & Why Does It Matter?
Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a crucial metric calculated by multiplying the average amount a customer spends per purchase, the frequency of their purchases, and the expected duration of their engagement with the business.
It boils down to understanding the total value a customer brings to the sports card business throughout their relationship. The sports card business is a relationship business, and if you can best serve that customer, you'll keep that relationship for many years.
Instead of focusing solely on high-dollar transactions, CLV emphasizes the cumulative impact of consistent, smaller purchases made by loyal customers. Let's break this concept down further:
For example, if a customer spends $2 on a card, buys every week, and stays engaged for a year, the CLV would be the product of these values.
CLV = Average Purchase Value \times Purchase Frequency \times Customer Lifespan
- Average Purchase Value: $2
- Purchase Frequency: Every week
- Customer Lifespan: 1 year (52 weeks)
CLV = $2 \times 52
CLV = $104
In this example, the customer lifetime value (CLV) for a customer who spends $2 on a card, buys weekly, and stays engaged for a year would be $104.
On average, this customer can generate $104 in revenue for the sports card business throughout their one-year engagement.
Prioritizing CLV helps sports card businesses appreciate the significance of nurturing lasting relationships and turning regular customers into long-term advocates. After all, your brand and reputation will outlast you. It's best to think of the long game!
In the dynamic world of sports cards, recognizing and optimizing CLV ensures sustained success by building a reliable income stream and a dedicated customer base.
Acknowledging the Grind of Low End Sports Cards
Selling low-dollar sports cards can be challenging. This section explores the energy needed and the obstacles faced in this venture. It recognizes the perseverance required to build a meaningful income over time and provides practical insights on overcoming challenges and staying motivated.
Nothing happens overnight, and selling $2 cards can be challenging when you have a 0 dollar or only make $2 in a day. So, staying focused on what you can control, like the number of listings you make or sourcing higher quality cards, can all make a big difference.
Here are a few stats showing the climb:
If you plan to get into the sports card-selling business, you'll want to take it step by step and truly learn about the different types of cards within the hobby.
There are countless card products, such as blasters and hobby boxes. If you learn about the different parallels, you can understand the cards' value and worth.
The Power of Accumulation: Build Relationships & Make Friends
Small amounts can add up significantly over time, a concept reinforced in this section. They illustrate the potential for financial growth through consistency. With the low-dollar sales in the sports card market, readers are encouraged to adopt a mindset focused on gradual accumulation as a viable path to success.
This concept motivates you to get your cards shipped quickly and honestly listen to your end customers.
For example, if there are cards that they want to add to their collection (PC) and you have them, let them know! Ask them which cards you are looking for and who you are buying now.
All of this helps. One of the simplest ways to start these conversations is to ask them what team they collect. You'll immediately understand more about them, like if they are into baseball or football cards. Or if they like a particular state or college team.
Our website, ThinkSportsCards, has multiple articles sharing tips on collecting and selling sports cards. Our recent article reviews the ROI of sports cards and how to obtain it. It breaks down the formula we use to calculate ROI and outlines what you can expect when first getting into collecting.
Low-End Dollar Cards Can Boost Earnings
Whether you are just starting or already have a sports card business, you'll find there are benefits to introducing low-end cards to your audience of collectors.
My high school lessons emphasize the importance of consistency, while the long-game mentality underscores the need for patience and commitment. Understanding the commitment and deciding whether it suits your business matters most.
Acknowledging the grind and understanding the power of accumulation drives home the message that success in selling low-dollar sports cards is a marathon, not a sprint. Remembering this will be a great start to a successful run in this industry.
It may help encourage you to consider the long-term benefits of consistent, small earnings. This strategy could build a resilient and successful business in the sports card market.