Some details below, but first, like every recipe site out there, I will now entertain (or maybe bore) you with a story.
15 years or so ago, I had a bee in my bonnet. I was 10 years into running a small custom software shop, and I was bored. Things were “OK” but I was stuck, and I didn’t know how to get unstuck. Enter the bee, which we’ll call an eBay drop off store. It was a huge trend and I was curious, and curiosity and boredom for me generally mean I start something — anything — new.
I launched a website. I advertised. I put a big old sign in the window. I fell in love with ULine. I sold and shipped stuff all over the world.
Hummel figurines? Sell them all day long. Small outboard motors? One was enough. Someone once brought in a new old stock front quarter panel for some Chevy to sell, and just so you get the whole picture, they hauled this to near suburban Chicago small office building, figured out how to get it through a wonky glass door, walked it up a flight of stairs, and started talking to me about it. And yes, it sold. Some albums, some radios, some electronics, some actual photography equipment. Lots of it was interesting. Some of it was gross.
In the end, I made basically no money that year and like the vast majority of these services, it didn’t work. So I folded up the business and got a job at a Salesforce consulting shop, a story for another day. (But if you want a great career in tech, try Trailhead.)
The experience made a lasting impression. The metal racks I bought at Costco are still holding paint and camping equipment in my garage. My PayPal and eBay accounts are still the ones I started back in the day. And yes, I still buy packaging material, when I need it, at ULine.
Although my intention in buying bricks of cards has always been resale, with a hope of making my collecting somewhat self-funding, I’ve been a little gun shy about actually starting the process of selling my extra decks. I have baggage, I guess, because of this experience. But I decided December would be as a good of a month to start as any, and some of the results surprised me.
Short version: it’s been fun and not too irritating. Here’s a summary of what I’ve sold:
- 1969 Space decks — 4
- Parasol Tree Dark Phoenix Deluxe (with the fun case) — 4
- Ruffle Shuffle 666 Dark Reserve — 3
- Master Series Falcon Playing Cards — 2
- Modern Idols Endless Hope & Extreme Fear — 1 each
- Crops No More — 1
- Tale of Scales — 1
Out of 26 listings, I’ve sold 7 different titles, 17 individual decks, and have sold out of two of them (Parasol Tree and 666 Dark Reserve).
- Very few Kickstarter decks will make any kind of actual profit on eBay. (You might enjoy my notes on Kickstarter Luxury Playing Card market.)
- The businesses that have converted selling a deck of cards at a time into a sustainable business that scales and makes a profit have done an amazing thing.
- eBay is an interesting customer acquisition channel if you can convert them to your main website, which is how PlayingCardDecks.com got me over there the first time.
- I can’t tell how important “free shipping” is. All of my listings are “free shipping”, which just means “shipping included” in my case. All in shipping with box and packing material is about $4.50 on average. PayPal and eBay add another $3.00 on average.
- People will low ball you on offers and often haggle back and forth over $1. You original price needs to include some wiggle room. Some of those hagglers will just disappear.
- In any given brick, some deck variants will have more value than others. Figuring out the pricing there is an art.
- Collecting playing cards seems to be a relatively gender neutral affair, with a pretty even split for me with what I identify as male and female names.
- I now understand better why different companies ship decks of cards in whatever cheapest way seems safe — even a $0.60 crushproof mailer, which is what I use, can make a difference.
That’s month one. I’m curious to see how January unfolds, given that it’s no longer the holiday season. I’m waiting for several KS campaigns to come in, which should result in some new stock.