Off-ebay success, a late-paying bidder and the trusty card shop

Part 2 in a series chronicling the One Sorry Blog Baseball Card Sell-Off
By Paul Rivas

Editor’s note: One Sorry Blog founder Paul Rivas is selling off his baseball cards on ebay with seller name onesorryblog, keeping only a precious and worthless few. He intends to sell every last card that will bring money at auction and donate the remaining 30,000 for no tax break. Realizing that his last hurrah in the hobby is upon him, Rivas is recording and reflecting on the experience at One Sorry Blog, the thinking collector’s blog.

With two days to go before my next auctions end, I’ll take a minute to consider my totals thus far: 11 cards sold, all PSA graded (they were my only 11 graded cards), for a total of $408.

$408 is $408, right? Right, except when there’s a deadbeat bidder involved. Some guy bought my first 94 SP A-Rod PSA 8 and my 89 UD Griffey PSA 9 for $127.50 and $51 but… wait for it… didn’t pay until I filed a dispute inducing him to honor his bid. From the look of his ebay Feedback, it seems that every once in a while he decides to not buy or sell whatever it is he has promised to pay for or send. I’m lucky and thankful that he decided to pay. So much so, that I’m going to insure his $178.50 in cards free of charge, which will put me out $2.50 or so, but not really, because he paid $6 for shipping that will only cost $4. And if that isn’t proof that it all works out in the end, I don’t know what is. Good thing, too, because subsequently, my other 94 SP A-Rod PSA 8 went for $108, meaning I likely would have got less for the first one the second time around.

I now have 99 items for sale on ebay, more than I’d ever thought I’d have the patience to list, but I’ve also already hauled in $80 for two off-ebay transactions. While at the post office mailing off a few cards to winning (and paying) bidders, I sold my 89 Upper Deck factory set to an old roommate for $40, or exactly what it would have gone for on ebay, without the hassle of shipping an 800-count set and without paying any ebay fees. When another promising bidder asked a question about the A-Rod, we ended up arranging a deal for three cards that I estimated would have brought $50 on ebay. I let them go for $40, payment was instant via PayPal, and the guy was “VERY pleased” with the transaction. Now tell me if this isn’t the way to go whenever possible, given that there are folks loose on ebay who Otto in Repo Man would have described as “dildoes who don’t pay their bills”.

The third side of this story is that two of the three cards in that deal were 95-96 Finest KG PSA 8s, both of which I’d put on consignment at Great American Baseball Cards for $40 apiece, of which I would get $30 per card. Craig told me that one guy who likes Finest almost bought one. Craig’s was actually the first place I went when I decided to sell my cards. I left some Randy Moss, Kobe and KG cards with him, all the best of which are already on ebay or sold now. Craig doesn’t much sell stuff for a fraction of the alleged value, and good for him: cards bought from the card shop should cost more. When I interviewed him for a profile in The Independent in 2005, we counted 13 card shops in the Santa Barbara area that had closed since he’d opened in 1986, including Murderer’s Row, where I worked under its second owners. By any measure, Great American is an institution and Craig is a caretaker of the hobby. Buying cards there, however 20th century that may seem, should rightfully cost more than on ebay. After all, around the world, things that are charming, historic and inefficient always cost more.

It’s worth mentioning that the 95 Bowman’s Best Guerrero PSA 8 that I just sold for $27.75 was one that I had bought ungraded at Great American for $25, making it literally the only card among the 11 graded cards sold that I had bought or traded for years ago for less than it went for on ebay this week. I think that Guerrero card must have been the last single card I ever purchased at the card shop. The last pack I ever bought there was 96 Score. I was trying for the Cal Ripken 2131 card and I busted it!
That’s right, the best card I ever got from a pack came from the last pack I ever bought at the card shop I’d patronized for 10 years. Needless to say, it’s up on ebay now.

I never had huge luck with packs. In fact, a Lawrence Taylor RC from 82 Topps, also from Craig’s, might be the next best card that I ever got out of a pack.

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