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Should You Sell Your Sports Cards Through a Consignment Company? Insights & Tips

Navigating the world of sports card selling can feel like strategizing for the Super Bowl. One of the big questions on many sellers' minds is whether to sell your cards yourself or sell with a consignment company. This decision can impact not only your profits, but also how much hassle you might save (or face). Let's break it down, shall we?



The Upside of Consignment Companies

Expertise and Market Exposure: First off, consignment companies often have a level of expertise and market reach that can be hard to match on your own. They know how and when to list cards, which cards are hot, and most importantly, have a ready audience of buyers.


Convenience: Let's face it, selling cards can be a bit of a grind. Pricing, photographing, listing, negotiating, shipping – it's a lot. Consignment companies take this load off your shoulders, and make the process a breeze. Many consigners also offer auction listings or fixed price listings for you to consider.


Maximizing Returns: With their expertise, these companies can often get you a better deal than you might manage on your own. Whether that's timing the market, facilitating private deals, or advising on what platform to sell, its mutually beneficial for the consigner to make sure your cards sell for top dollar.


Avoiding Headaches: Whenever you sell a card, there's a chance for an incident to incur during delivery. When you sell through a consigner, the consigner handles the customer service. When you sell independently, you are responsible to resolve the issue.


Shipping & Insurance Simplified: When you sell through a consignment company, you are responsible for getting them the cards and that's it. Consignment shops will handle all the shipping and insurance needed to make sure your cards are delivered safely to their new homes.


Fees, Fees, Fees: Consignment companies use their economies of scale to negotiate favorable terms with the selling platform that aren't available to you or I. Selling independently might mean needing to pay twice the amount in fees for certain cards. Everything is negotiable and the better the cards, the better the deal you'll likely get.


The Flip Side of the Coin

Fees, Fees, Fees: Fees again? I thought you just said fees were a benefit? There's a catch. Many consignment companies want to prioritize selling higher value cards. To deter customers from sending low value cards in, they'll charge high fees for those cards. You may think a card is worth $75, but if it sells at auction for $10, you might be paying as high as 30% of the sale in fees.


Patience is a Virtue: Selling through consignment isn't instant. It can take some time to list. You may need to wait for the company's next auction. If a buyer refuses to pay, then the card will need to be relisted. Payouts are delayed by the consigner needing to wait for payment before remitting it to you.


Control: Handing over your cards means handing over control. For some, this lack of control can be a deal-breaker, especially if you have specific selling preferences or timelines. Consigners also have a tendency to list an item incorrectly. Its not a frequent occurrence, but when they are listing thousands of items its bound to happen.


Tips for Going the Consignment Route

  1. Research is Key: Not all consignment companies and auction houses are created equal. And they may not be equal for different types of cards. You probably wouldn't want to send a key modern card to Robert Edwards Auctions just like you wouldn't want to send a vintage card to 90's Auctions. Look for reviews, ask for recommendations, and choose one that aligns with your values and needs.

  2. Understand the Fees: Before you commit, make sure you fully understand the fee structure. Negotiate where you can and don't be afraid to shop around. No surprises mean no regrets.

  3. Communicate: Be clear about your expectations. Consigners will tell you if they can meet those expectations and you can decide if you'd like to proceed. Communication can prevent a lot of frustration down the line.

  4. Keep Records: Just because someone else is selling your cards doesn't mean you shouldn't keep an eye on things. Keep records of what you've consigned and follow up regularly.


Making the Call

Deciding whether to sell your sports cards through a consignment company boils down to a few key factors: how much control you want over the selling process, your timeline for selling, and whether you're willing to pay for convenience and expertise. If you value ease and potential access to a broader market more than immediate returns and full control, consignment might just be your best option. However, if you prefer to keep a tight grip on the reins and maximize your profits, going solo could be the better play.


A collector deciding who to consign their sports cards with

Weigh your options, consider your priorities, and make the decision that's right for you. And remember, in sports card collecting, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. What works for one collector might not work for another, and that's okay. The key is to stay informed, stay flexible, and, above all, enjoy the hobby.


 

FAQs

Q: How much do consignment companies typically charge?

A: Fees can range widely depending on the consigner and may be tiered depending on sales value realized. Typically 5-10% for cards over $1,000 and 12-15%+ for cards under $1,000.


Q: Can I sell any type of sports card through a consignment company?

A: Most companies specialize in certain types of cards or have minimum value requirements, so it's important to check with them first.


Q: How long does it take to sell a card through consignment?

A: It varies greatly depending on the card's value, demand, and the company's reach. Some sales happen quickly, while others might take months.


Q: I've decided I want to consign my cards. Should I go with a traditional auction house or an eBay consigner?

A: Depends on what you want to sell. High value cards? Talk with sales representatives at the major auction houses and see what services they can provide for you. Low to mid-value cards? eBay auctions may be the way to go, but specialty consigners can help connect you with the best buyer pool for your card type.


 

Additional Thoughts on Vaults

A vault holding valuable sports cards

The biggest companies in the hobby have introduced "Vaulting" services that provide storage and security of your cards. These companies market the security, safety, and quick marketplace access as the key benefits to participation. However, these companies view vaulting customers as a key funnel to their higher margin consignment business. It may be difficult to retrieve your cards from vaults at this point in the segment's maturity. Consider all aspects of vaulting and selling through a vault-affiliated consignment service before sending your cards in.


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