How to Start a Baseball Card Shop

by Brian Hill
Prices for baseball cards vary from a dollar to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Prices for baseball cards vary from a dollar to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Baseball cards have been around since the 1840s. A photograph of the player was pasted onto a cardboard backing. Since that time, cards have been used as a marketing tool for tobacco companies, chewing gum, and, finally, valued just for the card itself. Starting a baseball card shop begins with creating a business plan that covers the market, competition, marketing strategies, and of course projected financials. The next step is opening the shop.

Educate Yourself

If you don't have extensive experience and knowledge about baseball cards, now is the time to learn. While most collectible baseball cards sell for no more than a few hundred dollars, if that, a card like the Eddie Plank 1909-1911 T206 card is valued at $188,000. Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Joe Jackson cards can be valued from $200,000 to over $500,000. While you probably won't be dealing with these prized collector cards, it's important you know the worth of a card when you buy it and price it to sell.

Collect Baseball Cards for Inventory

Your shop requires inventory when it opens. Like any business, you want to buy the cards at a price below the market value so you make a profit when you sell the cards. Flea markets, tag sales, and estate sales are venues to find cards. Online classified ads sites are another. Sellers looking to get rid of a collection, because they now have other interests or need money, often frequent auction sites. Companies such as Topps Sports Cards and Upper Deck Sports Cards are still manufacturing new card packs. Contact these types of companies to buy the cards wholesale.

Implement Payment Methods

You can always accept cash and checks from customers in the store. Set up a merchant's account to accept credit cards as well. If your credit isn't quite good enough to open a merchant account, use a third party processor for online sales such as Paypal or Google Checkout. SquareUp is an app that lets your smart phone read credit cards. The money is transferred from the customer's credit card account to your bank account.

Set Up the Store

Baseball cards in mint condition are worth more than those that aren't. Protect the most valuable cards in glass cases under cellophane wraps. Sell the baseball cards in packs, singly, or in sets. Display cards in photo albums for customers to leaf through but while keeping the cards protected.

Determine Additional Products

Baseball card collecting has dropped from the peak in the 1990s, when it was a billion dollar industry. Customers still want their favorite players but the investment frenzy has worn off. Supplement the baseball cards with other sports cards, collectibles, and sports memorabilia. If your store is located in a city with an MLB team, carry team merchandise as well.

Market Online and Offline

Keep a steady loyal customer base coming to the store by advertising in the local sports section of the newspaper. Additionally, set up a blog to discuss baseball cards in general, the shop's newest cards, specials, and discounts. Join online forums and discussion groups centered on baseball and sports collectibles. Participating in the discussions will introduce you and your card shop to potential customers.

About the Author

Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."

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