People ask me all the time if I’m selling or would sell a specific Pokémon card. If if I post a card as collected on Gemr, the answer is always no: those cards are our private collection. They’re posted as part of our private collection and never for sale. We never have and never will sell any of that collection. However, we do sell cards. In the beginning, we decided to try selling and see how it went. In the time we’ve been selling, we have gone from just sort of selling to something a friend said to us recently: “you guys just blew up overnight!”
Recently, I’ve had conversations with people asking me how to sell and what it takes. Many of them think it’s as easy as posting cards for sale, getting paid, and sending the card off. They’re a bit taken aback when I tell them that there is more to it. For example, Sean and I had a sale that was just Eeveelutions. It took a week to prepare due to the number of cards, the individual pricing, and photos that we took of each card. I started what we call “hyping” several days before the sale – I let people know when this would be happening, what we were selling. We do this to discover who might be interested in the sale.
Not every sale is a big as our Eeveelutions, so they don’t take as long to prep for, but the process is always the same. What goes into having a card sale and being consistent? We went from our first sale where I posted photos of a binder of cards with a timestamp, to having two big sales a week. The process isn’t just ours – many of the consistent sellers do it the same way.
“I want to sell as a full-time job!” someone recently said to me in a Facebook chat. I smiled at my phone and wrote back, “That’s awesome, but do you know what it takes to do this full time?” As I waited for a reply, I looked around my Cloffice (closet-office) at the Pokémon stuff for SANorton Pokémon. The inventory of cards; the boxes, envelopes, bubble mailers, office supplies, top loaders. I think of the people I sell to that have become friends as well as buyers.
The response comes, “Yeah, you just sell cards to people all the time!” Well, they aren’t wrong, I thought, but it isn’t that easy. To be successful at selling full time, it takes more than just selling a card to someone. You need knowledge; you need to be fair in your pricing, honest about the condition, and ready to fix any mistakes that were made or help an unhappy buyer.
It’s impossible to do this without a consistent inventory. That’s one of my jobs. Between Sean and me – I am the inventory buyer. I spend each night before bed searching for the next set of cards to order. It seems easy, right? This is where your knowledge of cards comes into play. You need to know what buyers want and are willing to pay.
What I buy has got to be financially smart not only for us but for the people we sell to. I am known for loving my buyers and knowing each of their financial situations. I charge the same price for a card straight across the board, regardless of who has more money to spend. When I buy our next shipment, I am not only buying for us; I am buying for them as well. I must be sure that everyone will be happy with what comes in.
I need to pick apart the cards in the photos before I buy them, so there are few surprises in quality when they come. I need to look at the condition and run prices in my head to be sure I’m making a smart choice. Then I show it to Sean to see what he says. If we both agree on it, I will order it. There are specific card eras I stay away from, and certain cards I will order specifically for people that I know collect them. Ordering cards for people who collect them without asking them first is a risk I only recommend you take when you know that buyer very well, or if the card would be an easy sell if it doesn’t work out.
We had an inventory supply when we started selling from the collections and lots we’ve bought over the years. Neither of us realized how quickly that supply would go down as we sold. At one point, we still had a lot of cards left, but they were cards that had little interest. We needed more if we wanted to keep selling, so I did some research on what people were looking for.
Pricing Pokémon Cards
After our first sale, we talked about why we would want to keep doing this. Some sellers do it to make money; some do it to sell off extra cards they don’t need, some are just getting out of Pokémon and want it gone. We wanted to bring people the cards they loved without what we call “price-stabbing.”
We see it often – a card is worth a certain amount, like $5. The price-stabber puts it for sale for $10, plus shipping. Most buyers will not pay that much over the actual value. They can find it somewhere else for the appropriate price. We decided we’d never do that – we always wanted to be fair to people and help them find what they want. When someone asks about selling, I always give this advice: be fair in your pricing. Even if you make $0.25, that’s a quarter more than you had before the sale. What’s more, your buyer is happy and likely to come back to you in the future. That is what it is all about.
Condition of your Pokémon Cards
Now you have cards you want to sell. What do you do now? Each card, every single one, and I can’t stress this enough, must be looked at individually. Each card will have a different condition, and when selling, you need to be honest about that. Cards can range from NM (near mint) to damaged. Transparency in this area is one of the most crucial things about selling. It determines the price of your card and if it is even worth selling at all.
Pricing and condition go hand in hand, and most people use the TCG Player app, and eBay sold listings (not completed, sold) to determine the price of their cards. In the TCG Player app, it will give you an average price of the card based on condition. With eBay, you use the average sold price, not the highest you can find, which is a mistake a lot of people make. Buyers are also looking these cards up, and if they see you charging $10 for a card at eBay highest sold but several sold for around $5, not only will they not buy from you, they will probably call you out on it and remember for next time that you aren’t a fair seller.
Becoming a Pokémon Card Seller
I take photos of the cards we are selling that night. I recommend not putting a bunch of cards in one picture, as it can overwhelm people. Each photo will have the same title: the price of the card, condition notes if necessary, and the card set if it’s a specialty sale. I let everyone know about an hour ahead of time that the party is about to start, which is something many sellers do. The warning is to get the buyers ready because chances are, they asked for a tag or dropped a dot so they can participate in your sale.
At this point, making a sale is easy for us, as we’ve worked very, very hard to earn the reputation we have as sellers. In the beginning, it isn’t like that. There are many dishonest people, and many scammers in the Pokémon, and collecting world. Buyers regard new sellers with suspicion. When you’re new, you are under a spotlight, and cautious buyers will watch you.
This is your opportunity to start building yourself in the Pokémon card selling the world. Many sellers are also friends, and while we try not to compete, there is still a competition. Some of us won’t sell on the same nights as each other, or if we do, we will do it in different groups to make it fair to everyone.
Honesty and Integrity
Fairness: Something that is a priority for our friends who are sellers and us. With fairness comes honesty. I spent some time talking with a buyer of mine, Dan, about what he looks for in a seller. Dan is a collector of many kinds of cards and loves each one of them. Over time, we have become friends, and I always look forward to showing him new things. He has genuine excitement over the cards he buys and adds to his collection.
Dan told me something interesting about buying: if a seller isn’t honest or tries to hide something and he is the one that must bring it to light, he will not buy from that person again, regardless of what they have for sale. Dan is a well-known, frequent buyer who has a reputation of always paying on time. Buyer reliability is something to be considered if you are selling, and that is something you can only learn over time. “your word is your bond,” Dan says to me as we chat.
Shipping Pokémon Cards
I gather the cards that someone claimed and take a photo of them. I send them to that person’s inbox to verify that those are the right cards. Once they are confirmed, we go over the total price, and I give them shipping options. I let them choose their shipping method as these are no longer my cards, they belong to the person who bought them, and they should be able to decide how they would like them shipped.
Sean will take a list and read off cards to me, and I’ll verify that they’re there. Doing this ensures that you don’t forget any cards, which is essential to your future as a seller. Mistakes happen in the selling world, but having a system like this helps to ensure they occur infrequently.
Packaging Pokémon cards is a process all on its own. Package a card how you would want it sent to you. We use penny sleeves, top loaders, and team bags. Our method is a triple form of protection for the cards. Both envelopes and bubble mailers get taped closed to add security as the cards go through the mail. Top loaders only protect so far, and cards have come damaged even in bubble mailers and top loaders.
The buyer then gets a photo of their package to ensure I got the address correct and to communicate with them that I did what I said I would do. I let them know when my next mail day will be, confirm that it is okay with them, and their package goes into my mail basket for mail day, which is usually the next day after a sale. Then, we do this all over again. The nights of sales are generally very late for us.
It doesn’t stop when we stop. People claim all night depending on their schedules, so we wake up to new claims. Before we mail, we gather those claims and contact those people as well. Once that is done, we go over the mail list to make sure we have everyone for that day.
Then, its time to mail. The people who have ordered bubble envelopes automatically get tracking whether they request it or not. That is to protect us, them, and the package. The post office provides a receipt with the tracking number that we then give to the buyer in the form of a photo. Envelopes are just mailed in a blue mailbox (although there are other ways to do this, it’s our chosen way), and we do what is called a video drop. We record the envelope going into the mailbox and then send that video to the buyer. Without tracking, this is the only way to ensure to the buyer that their order did get mailed out and is on its way.
Your buyer isn’t just another sale, and like I tell people when they are starting: Buyers are not a wallet. These are real people who are excited to be receiving new cards, and they’ve taken the time to choose those cards from you. Once that person pays you for the cards, they belong to them, not you. It is your job to make sure they are packaged safely and get them to the post office in a reasonable amount of time. I am always genuinely excited for people when they have cards coming. It isn’t the sale; I’m helping someone add to their collection.
Some buyers will buy from you to resell. I have not had that happen to me, but I see it often. You can’t control what people do once they buy your cards. It’s okay if this happens. I know that someday, someone may want to sell a card they purchased from me, so I make sure they get it at a price where they can also make money on it as well.
This is My Method, Find What Works Best for You
This is just one form of selling Pokémon cards, but there are many other ways to do it, the other two most popular being email and the Facebook Inbox Sale. The process is the same, the methods are the same, and a lot of times, the people are repeat buyers. We sell each day, whether we are having a public sale or not.
Selling can be addicting, and it is fun. I enjoy the entire process, and the friends I’ve made along the way. The journey has been exciting, and I’ve had people take my hand and guide me – people who are top sellers in the world I’m in. Reputable sellers will look out for each other. Sean and I are here to help anyone that is starting out or is having a problem.
Remember, if you are selling cards, it isn’t just about the money. It’s about the journey of the card, the people you are selling to, and the fun you will have along the way!
Gemr is the #1 free app and website for collectors. It’s the best place on the internet to meet fellow fans, show off your collection, talk all things geeky, and buy and sell cool stuff with people who love the same things you do. If you’re looking for the only place on your phone (or the internet) built just for collectors — this is it!