The popularity of sports trading cards and memorabilia has never
been greater than it is today. Collection of such items is not
limited to youngsters, either. Adults have discovered trading
cards as a lucrative investment field. Prestigious auction houses
in New York dedicate entire sales to antique baseball cards.
Autographs, bats and balls, team clothing, ticket stubs and game
programs are bought and sold by sports fans worldwide. You can
cash in on the growing interest in sports collectibles by opening
your own sports memorabilia shop or mail order operation.
You can choose to open a retail facility in your city, or you may
decide to operate a mail order business specializing in sports
keepsakes. Both can be established for a small investment and run
for minimal costs. If you choose to open a retail outlet, you will
need an adequate supply of stock to draw customers into your store.
If your stock is slow in the beginning, offer to sell merchandise
on consignment. You will display a customer's item in your
showcase, handle the sale and pocket a pre-arranged percentage of
the amount. The advantages of a mail order operation are many.
You can begin as a trading club with a monthly or bi-monthly
newsletter, featuring the items other members have for sale or
trade. Once you have personally gathered a large number of items
to serve as a stock supply for your business, you can branch out
and begin a retail outlet.
Establishing a retail outlet can be relatively simple. Find a
small, inexpensive location in a neighborhood strip mall. You
don't need a lot of interior amenities either. Several glass
showcases can serve as your sales counter and display area. Place
some shelves on the wall behind your counter to display larger
items. Framed pictures or plaques featuring autographed items that
you have for sale can be hung on the walls around the room. Other
counters or table space can feature collecting supplies such as
binders, card cases, storage boxes, pages for holding cards, etc.
Sports posters can fill up any bare spots on your wall.
Contact a local magazine distributor and arrange to have a wide
assortment of sports magazines and newspapers for sale in your
shop. Include magazines featuring sports news as well as those
that pertain to collecting trading cards and keepsakes. The
magazine distributor will also be able to put you in contact with
the publishers of pricing guides for sports memorabilia. These
price books will sell especially well, because they are updated on
an annual basis and will create repeat purchases by customers.
If your city has a minor or major league team, check with the front office
about having one or more players visit your store for
special autograph sessions. Fans can come and have the players
autograph their cards, programs, etc., or they can purchase some of these
items to be autographed from you at a special discounted
price. While folks are in the store to get their autographs, they
will have the opportunity to browse through your stock, make some
purchases, and get to know you better. While many teams charge for these
special appearances by players, you should be able to recoup your expenses
through the added sales the event will generate. Also, having an
opportunity to become acquainted with your customers and their likes and
dislikes will serve you well further down the road.
Getting employees to work in your shop will not be difficult.
Teenagers are wild about sports collectibles and would be willing
to work for minimum wage. Of course, you will want to have at
least one adult on duty at all times to handle any problems that
might arise. This type of job is also a great second job for many
adults. Many collectors would enjoy part-time work of this sort
simply because it will pay for time spent with their hobby. Don't
worry about getting help. You'll be swamped with folks applying
for work in your store.
As mentioned above, you will want to serve as a consignment shop
for folks looking to sell valuable items from their own
collections. Have a sales contract written up that specifies that
you are taking the described merchandise on consignment for 60
days, ad that the seller will receive X amount for the sale of the
item. Of that sale price, you will subtract 25 percent for
negotiating the sale. If the item does not sell within the
allotted time, the seller will have the option of removing it from
your store or lowering the asking price. You should be able to
greatly increase your available offers and make a good profit from
Place an advertisement in your city newspaper or local shoppers'
guide informing readers of your location and that you take
merchandise on consignment. Your ad might look something like
Trading Cards and Sports Memorabilia
We buy and sell all kinds of sports keepsakes:
* trading cards
* Baseball * Football
* Basketball * Hockey
* Golf * Tennis
Complete Sports Newsstand--Magazines, Books
3227 N. Hamilton Ave., next to the county courthouse
Keep your ad simple. Don't overload it by telling everything about
your store. Simply include enough to let the reader know that you
have a shop that offers materials in which he will be interested.
Also, remember that your ad should be simple enough to attract
teenagers as well as adults. Younger collectors will see your ad
and prompt their parents to take them to your store. Allow the
reader to come by and check out your offers for himself. Once he
gets to the store, then you can determine where his interests lie
and what items in your stock will appeal to his desires. Your ad
is designed to capture interest--not close the sale.
If you choose not to start out from a retail facility, but opt
instead to sell through the mail, there are a few things to keep in
mind. Decide first how you will market collectibles by mail--will
you sell exclusively from your own collection, or will you serve
as a clearing house to bring buyer and seller together by mail? If
you plan to sell only your own materials, you will need to develop
a catalog listing of what you're offering. Divide it by sport and
item type. List all the trading cards, autographs and other
collectibles under separate headings. Briefly describe each item.
You may want to develop a code for describing the condition of the
materials to include the description: M=Mint Condition;
E=Excellent; VG=Very Good; G=Good; F=Fair. Cards can be listed by
player name, year of issue, company issuing the card and condition
with the price out to the side. If a card also carries a player's
autograph, include that information as well. A typical
description might read:
Ruben Sierra, 1991, Topps, M..................$12.00
Ruben Sierra, 1991, Topps, E, w/autograph.....$18.00
If you don't have a large enough collection of your own, start a
trading card and collectibles newsletter. While you will want to
include two or three short columns describing recent trends in
collecting sports items, price trends or forthcoming collectors
items soon to be made available, the main feature of your
newsletter will be the trader's section. Much like a shoppers'
tabloid, your newsletter will include classified ads from folks
selling their own items or seeking others who are selling items
they want to buy. You charge a small price per word, line or ad to
include the listing in your newsletter. Readers will contact each
other directly. You will make your profit from subscriptions, your
personal sales of memorabilia offered in the newsletter, and the
sale of classified advertising and any display ads that readers may
wish to place in your newsletter.
You can establish a reader base by advertising on local bulletin
boars, in school newspapers, or a small notice placed in the
classified section of national sports or trading card magazines.
Your ad might read:
Free issue "Sports Memorabilia
Newsletter." Brings buyers and
sellers together. Latest news. SASE
to: Collectors, Box 11000, Anytown,
Along with the first free issue of your newsletter, include a
subscription coupon and instructions on how to place a classified
ad. You will also want to leave a stack at each of the retail
trading card outlets, at the neighborhood newsstand, and in
convenience stores that sell trading cards. The ads in the first
issue can be placed free of charge by friends and acquaintances
with material to sell. Offer to let a retail memorabilia store
place a display ad in the first issue for free. The response to
their ad will encourage them to buy an ad in a future issue. The
important thing is to fill up your first issue, making it look
attractive and professional.
Your newsletter can be easily typed up on your personal computer.
Many software packages are available with templates (sample
layouts) of newsletters of two to eight pages. Simply choose a
format you like and type your information into the existing
columns. You can even plug in your own graphics for a professional
touch. If you don't have access to a laser printer, visit a local
print shop and have your newsletter printed out on a laser. The
quality will be excellent and will only cost around $2 per page
Published bi-monthly in a 4-page format, you can have 1,000 copies
of your newsletter printed up for about $80. Charge $15 per
classified ad or $75 for a one-third column display ad. If you
feature 2 pages of classified ads, 3 columns wide with 10 ads per
column, you'll have space for 90 ads bringing in $900. Add to this
$150 income from two display ads placed elsewhere in the
newsletter, and you have generated a total of $1,050. Plan to
leave 200 copies at various locations in town and mail the
remainder to prospective subscribers. The first issue will be
mailed to prospects in the self-addressed, stamped envelope they
provided in reply to your ad. However, subsequent issues will be
mailed at your expense through paid subscriptions. Mailing 800
copies via Third Class would cost $160. Your gross profit per
issue will be approximately $810. This doesn't include any sales
generated by your own advertising.
Selling sports memorabilia can be highly profitable. A trading
card purchased for pennies can bring profits thousands of times the
original cost. More than ever before, youngsters and adults alike
are collecting sports keepsakes. You can grab a share of this
lucrative market and parley your position into a profitable part-
or full-time income. The decision is yours. Step into the
batter's box and take a swing at success, knocking one out of the
park! Good Luck!