At some point in their cardboard life, just about every hobbyist wants or needs to liquidate part of their collections. When that time comes, they often scramble to figure out just where to sell baseball cards in order to maximize their returns.
So, just where is the best place to sell baseball cards?
Well, there are several options, and it all comes down to your goals and what you’re comfortable with. Below are the most common avenues for selling cards, along with plenty of details about each including pros and cons you need to consider.
But, of course, any time you decide to sell some of your “babies,” there are plenty of other considerations to keep in mind, too: grading your cards, determining their value, choosing proper supplies for storage and shipping, among others.
(This post is part of a complete series on How to Sell Baseball Cards.)
We’ll get into those in other articles, but for now, let’s start to answer the big question …
Where can I sell my baseball cards?
Glad you asked!
Local Card Shop
It’s hard to beat your local card shop when it comes to looking your buyer in the eye and establishing a true rapport with them. Aside from written contracts and other types of guarantees, it’s the surest way to make yourself feel comfortable about a sale.
After all, if the local shop takes advantage of you, and you find out, word of mouth is not going to do their business any favors. And that’s particularly true if you are or have been a regular buying customer.
And selling to your local card shop may be the most convenient option on this list. Just walk (or drive) down to the store, unpack your wares, and strike a deal.
But there are a few potential drawbacks to selling to your LCS, too:
- They may not be interested in or able to buy everything you’re selling.
- They may not be buying at all (though that’s generally not much of an issue right now, in the 2020s).
- Their offer may not meet your expectations — they have to pay rent, utilities, wages, insurance, etc., etc., and STILL find a way to turn a profit, after all.
- They may not exist at all.
Indeed, that last bullet point might be the trickiest of all, because local card shops aren’t as plentiful today as they were in the 1980s. That has changed a bit in the last couple of years during the current boom, but the truth is, you may have to look for more of a “regional” card shop than a truly local store.
Either way, if you want to sell to a physical store, you’ll need to locate one — that’s where our Guide to Finding Baseball Card Shops Near You comes in handy.
Local Card Show
Stepping up the ladder a bit in terms of the number of selling options in front of you in any once location, you can also take your cards to a local card show … if you still (or again) have those mythical beasts in your area.
Some of the advantages of hitting the local card show in search of a buyer:
- More dealers means more potential buyers.
- Collectors milling about means even more potential buyers.
- Low overhead for dealers at the site (but not if they also run physical shops).
- Better chance you’ll find someone who wants everything you’re offering.
It’s not all roses at card shows, though, because you’ll have to contend with some potential cons of trying to sell on the floor:
- Dealers may not be receptive to your pitch since they’re trying to sell (for the most part).
- Dealers (and the promoter) might take exception if you try to sell your stuff to other patrons.
- Dealers still need to build in a profit margin to whatever they pay for your cards.
- You might have to shop around to unload all of your cards.
- As with the local card shop, you might have trouble finding a local card show.
- Shows might get cancelled — call ahead on the day of!
Beckett and Sports Collectors Digest maintain lists of upcoming card shows, but you can usually find more up-to-date listings, and more listings in general, by searching Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other online venues for “baseball card shows” + <your location>.
Local Card Show … As a Dealer!
Another option for selling your cards at a card show is to set up shop on the other side of the table.
For a (usually) small fee, you typically get access to an eight-foot table where you can spread out your cards and make them available to all the patrons milling through the show. That gives you more eyeballs ogling your actual, live cards than you can find through just about any other method on this list.
When you set up at a show, you get to set your asking prices, too, and you can decide just how low you’re willing to go for any given card.
And if you don’t sell your cards? Or not as many as you want?
Just pack them up and try again at a later show. Or with one of the other methods here.
But, while setting up at a card show has lots of advantages, there are drawbacks, too:
- You have to pay for your table.
- You have to prep your cards for sale — sort them, put them in holders, price them.
- You have to drive to the show (and back home again).
- You have to sit at the show all day.
- You have to handle money (hopefully), which can be fun AND stressful.
- You have to account for sales tax if you don’t have a dealer sales tax number, and there may be some promoters who won’t allow you to set up without one.
You’re absorbing the dealer costs yourself with this method of selling your baseball cards, the price you pay for calling all (or most of) the shots.
Ebay has been the go-to marketplace for selling baseball cards almost since it first came online in 1995.
Check out the baseball card listings sometime (like you don’t already do that all the time!), and you’ll see just about any type of card or memorabilia you can imagine being offered up for sale.
Because of this status as a true hobby swapping space (cards-for-money, that is), eBay is super popular with both buyers and sellers. And, like setting up at a local card show, listing your cards on eBay gives you full control over how much you’re going to ask, which cards you’re going to offer, and when you’ll offer them up, among other considerations.
But, as with everything else, that control comes at a price:
- eBay takes a commission for every sale you make.
- When you sell your cards, you have to pack and ship them to the buyer.
- Preparing eBay listings, while easier than it was 20 years ago, is still largely a painstaking and painful proposition most of the time.
- There is always the possibility of cards being returned, or buyers lodging complaints against you for a wide variety of reasons.
That said, many, many collectors and dealers sell baseball cards on eBay everyday — thousands (at least) change hands with each tick of the calendar.
If you’re interested in going this route, it behooves you to do some detailed research about the mechanics of listing, selling, and shipping your cards, as well as what sorts of issues you might eventually run into with online buyers.
There are plenty of guides along this line on the web, all yours for the price of a few Google searches.
Online marketplaces are sort of a mashup of selling your cards on eBay and setting up at a card show.
The general idea here is that you actually send your cards in to the marketplace company, who serves as a sort of clearinghouse for all of the potential buyers they serve.
Then, that clearinghouse catalogs and grades your cards (usually, and if your cards aren’t already graded by PSA or the like), stores them, and lists them for sale in their online marketplace.
Most of the time, the clearinghouse helps determine the value of your cards, information you can use to set your prices. Sometimes, they’ll set those prices for you, and in almost all cases, they handle the transactions and shipping when your cards sell.
Often times, the clearinghouse will list your cards for sale not just on their own website, but also in separate eBay listings, through promotional email messages, and via other avenues.
Then once a month (or at some other interval), the clearinghouse settles up with you, sending you payment for the cards they sold on your behalf.
Of course, all of that “on your behalf” work comes at a price.
Usually, that takes the form of a commission, a flat fee per item listed, or (often) both. There is also often a “rent” aspect if you have cards that remain unsold after a given period of time but want to leave them with the clearinghouse, still offered for sale.
Overall this option provides you much of the flexibility afforded by the local card show and eBay, but without most of the leg work — just box up your cards and send them all to one location, then manage your account online.
Among the drawbacks, of course, are sharing your proceeds with the company and the possibility that your cards will go unsold and rack up storage bills, or the cost of having them shipped back to you.
Some of the most popular clearinghouse-type marketplaces include:
- StockX.com (they are a bit more broad in their offerings — shoes, wearables, etc., in addition to cards)
Dealers Who Buy
“Dealers who buy” may sound redundant, and it just might be, here in this 2020s hobby boom.
But not all dealers are always in the market for new acquisitions. And certainly not all dealers advertise that fact far and wide.
There are enough who do, though, that you can likely find a taker for the cards you want to sell, depending, of course on exactly what is you are offering.
The dealers in this category aren’t your local card shop (though they could be) … nope! These are the big guns that buy advertising space in hobby magazines like Sports Collectors Digest and Beckett specifically for the purpose of finding material to purchase.
Often times, they buy display ads online, too — Google ads, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, YouTube ads.
They’re laying out big bucks so that they can lay out more big bucks.
Some of these dealers will buy your cards online, but many of them travel across the country arranging deals and swooping up the cards they need.
That bit — “the cards they need” — can be limiting, but several of these buy-happy dealers will purchase everything you have for sale all in one fell swoop.
That makes the “dealers who buy” option pretty enticing if you’re selling an entire collection, for sure. Of course, these dealers have costs just like all the others do, plus they often have added travel costs.
Still, if you want to explore this option, you can run some searches along the lines of “we buy cards.”
When you do, you’ll likely find these dealers, among many others:
If you have some high-end items to sell or a really massive collection you’re looking to liquidate, then it’s hard to beat auction houses when it comes to maximizing your returns.
These entities generally have the resources and expertise to properly value your cards and collectibles, and they make a big deal out of publicizing their auctions. They advertise online and in all the big hobby periodicals, creating a buzz around each of their auctions.
Auction houses make their money through commissions and various fees, but, again, if you’re selling high-end collectibles, these companies give you the kind of exposure that would be difficult or impossible to generate on your own.
Among the more renowned hobby auction houses:
Truth is, there is almost no limit to the number of options available for selling your baseball cards as we swing into the third decade of the 21st century. We’ll come back and update this piece as new avenues pop up, or as some of the existing markets drop away.
For now, though, we’ll close with a few more ideas about where you might sell your baseball cards.
As with cars and ragged old boxes of baseball cards, your mileage may vary, and be sure to do your research before you jump into any of these:
- Craig’s List
- Facebook groups
- Garage sales
- Flea markets