eBay, Baseball Cards, and Disappointment: A Lesson in Supply and Demand
eBay is the greatest thing that has ever happened to the collectibles market. It’s also the worst.
Bad news first. I used to be an avid baseball card collector; I had a half of a ROOM set aside for baseball cards. My Ken Griffey, Jr. Upper Deck Rookie cards were worth a couple hundred dollars….each. My Dad hoped that the entire collection would pay for my college tuition one day.
However, two years ago I sold every baseball card I had for $400.
I also recently closed my eBay store after selling my parents collection of thousands of collectible figurines and ornaments. Most sold for no more than 10-20% of face value (luckily for us, most of the items were obtained for free through a store my Dad owned).
With everything available on eBay, just a few clicks away, there is no such thing as a RARE item anymore. “Rare” means it only shows up on eBay a few times a month instead of spending months or even years searching trade shows for that one elusive Michael Jordan rookie card. The site has also exponentially increased competition among dealers. With so many sellers visible at one time, the lowest price usually wins. It’s pretty obvious why the collectibles market collapsed!
eBay lowered market value but also gave people a MEANS to sell collectibles.
So that’s the bad. What’s the good part? While my Dad wanted to sell all the collectibles eventually, he had absolutely NO idea how to do it. Sure, we could go to trade shows on weekends and hope to sell a handful of items at a time, but that’s not really a viable option for selling large quantities. So while eBay significantly lowered the value of the market, it gave most people the MEANS to sell their collectibles as well. So in the end it probably works out evenly: you sell your items for less, but you CAN sell them. Not a bad trade-off! (Unless, of course, this is a business venture. Then “selling for less just to sell” is a simply awful business plan).
Of course, if you are looking to BUY collectibles (or any other rare item, for that matter), eBay is one of the greatest things ever to happen to the market. Now you can buy all those childhood nostalgia items that you missed out on…most likely for pennies on the dollar.
Making things even better, eBay recently announced the acquisition of Milo.com. For those of you unfamiliar with that site, you can search for items in local retail stores’ inventories in real-time. eBay is trying to make it easier to shop from home and get the most competitive prices, that’s for sure!
Based on how eBay has already affected the collectibles market, do you think the Milo merger could be both a blessing and a curse? Have you had any personal woes or successes with buying or selling merchandise on eBay?
Image credits from rmfphoto.net/ via Flickr