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What’s the 1 Thing the SPORTS CARD Hobby Needs? No, it's not another grading company or vault

November 11, 2022 5 min read

What’s the 1 Thing the SPORTS CARD Hobby Needs? No, it's not another grading company or vault

Card grading companies, platforms for selling, vaults. Obviously, the industry needs more and more of these! Actually, no, it doesn't. PSA, Beckett, CSG, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, and more vaults than should even be named. There are more than enough grading companies, platforms, and vaults on this floating blue and green planet. These are NOT what the industry needs more of, but with that said, there is something that it could probably use, and we're going to dive into that idea today.

What is missing from this list? It might not be obvious at first, but maybe once you hear it, it'll make a lot of sense. If some company out there can fully embrace the "trading" aspect of trading cards, I think there is potentially a huge underserved market here. This means actually trading the cards. As in, Guy A gives card X to Guy B for card Y and vice versa. 

Why could this be a great new business opportunity? Well, there is potentially a lot of uncertainty with card value and the economy coming our way in the next couple of years. Of course, nothing is for certain, but this could make collectors feel inclined to not want to put as much money into their collection for the moment. Nobody wants to lose money.

However, that doesn't mean that people still don't want to add to their collection, and maybe get rid of items from their collections as well. This is where the actual act of trading comes in. No matter what their reason, whether it's money or just no longer wanting a certain card in their collection, all collectors can find reasons to add and remove from their personal vaults of cards. 

The biggest issue here is probably just how can it be made a safe process for everyone. The biggest issue with trading is of course the logistics of it. Everyone wants to feel safe when they mail out their card, that the one they saw online is what will come their way as part of that trade, and as things are now, that is an almost logistically impossible task. Understandable, people want reassurance that they can trust the stranger on the other side of the computer screen. Imagine that, needing verification in the 21st century regarding internet use!

Of course, people can trade in person at card shows, but again, it's a logistical nightmare to bring a collection potentially across the country to maybe not even make a trade. Some collections are worth a lot of money, and the risk of losing that while traveling is basically just not worth it.

That is where this "trading company" comes in, and there are potentially already some businesses out there geared towards this idea, even if they haven't pursued it yet, but we'll get to that soon. First, let's talk about how it could work.

Obviously, it starts with a website of some kind and a company behind that site. Users, say myself, would list what cards I want to trade, what I think those cards are valued at, and what cards I'm looking for in exchange. Then I'd likely fill out some other online form, submit a scanned image of the card, and we're done. Nice and simple, nothing over the top or overly complicated. Plus, there are almost certainly AI powered softwares out there now that can read the grading information from the likes of PSA or Beckett, so that software can verify what you've put into the online form. It's simple, fast, and pretty secure. 

On the other end, some other guy has done all the exact same things, and now the site can track that and if we match up for a trade, it can send us a text or email to get the ball rolling. That would be so helpful because who really wants to spend time trolling through a website for trades, right? Back to me as an example, I get the email notification, and then I can contact the guy and we can negotiate out our trade through the website. Once it's nailed out, we both send our respective cards to the company to act as the hand off, and then receive the card we traded for. 

This is where some of the beauty comes in for this mystery company, because they can leave the shipping and whatnot to the consumers (i.e. me) and just handle the hand off, and charge maybe a 1% (minimum $20) fee based on the value of the cards being traded. Put that in the context of your own collection. You could potentially trade for low or even extremely high value cards, and only pay 1% of their value for a card of equal value, that could potentially blow well past a 1% value growth in a year or two. That really isn't a bad trade-off, and it makes it easy for this new company to continue servicing traders in a simple and efficient way.

In the event that maybe card A is worth $500 more than card B in the trade, then the owner of card B can just pay that difference to match out the value. Again, nice and simple, and now nobody has to worry about the legitimacy of the person their trading with or the card they are getting, because it's all handled and verified by this "middle-man" company. 

To date, there aren't really any companies out there doing this yet. Derek Jeter just started up a company called Arena Club, and that is similar to what I'm talking about here, but it requires you to vault your cards with them, and I think we could all do to get away from "vaulting". A lot of collectors would probably have their cards with them, in the safety of their home, and not sitting who knows where with some company. So while Arena Club is close, it's not really all the way there yet. 

COMC is a company that is also pretty close to this idea. They already have the infrastructure through their existing platform to make something like this a reality, but they also have a vaulting system. I would just love to kind of get away from the vaulting side, but in terms of a company that is already just about there, COMC is probably the one and only. Essentially, what I want is an eBay of trading. So just like eBay, we keep the items in our care until we have to ship them out for the trade.

Why would a business like this succeed? As mentioned above, in the coming years, it is possible the economy will be in a bit of a decline, and it is totally possible that people won't be as willing to spend as much money, but everyone is always willing to entertain the idea of a trade so that both people can get what they are after. Trading basically goes back to the dawn of civilization, so why couldn't it work now? Additionally, for a long time now, the marketplace has been built on this model of sell, sell, sell. The issue there is fees end up becoming pretty high. It's never fun to lose 20% of your profits on a selling platform, or to pay an additional 20% when purchasing a new card. That just never feels good. So again, trading can solve that issue, and for a measly 1%, that's hardly even a question. 

So there's the idea. I think the industry could really stand to benefit from a concept like this, so it'd be interesting to see if something like this could take off in the near future. I know I would definitely be interested in potentially using it, and I think a lot of other collectors would be as well. 

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