Buying and collecting baseball cards is a hobby that I have enjoyed for over 30 years. It has given me countless hours of time spent with my children, teaching them the greats of the game. These are my tips on how to buy baseball cards.
The first thing you will want to consider when making the decision to buy baseball cards is, “Why am I buying?” The main reason I buy baseball cards is to collect them. After receiving my first pack of Topps trading trading cards for a birthday present, I was hooked for life. I have been buying cards ever since, and literally thousands of cards later, I look forward to the next set as much as I did the first.
Many people, especially dealers, buy cards as an investment. Looking at cards as an investment can easily be compared to investing in stocks. Just like the the tech bubble investors remember all too well, baseball card prices suffered a similar fate in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The big three card producers, Topps, Fleer, and Donruss were joined by producers such as Score and Upper Deck.
The card market literally became over saturated with millions of prints. Throw in a 1994 player strike, internet pressure, a steroid scandal, and baseball card values have plummeted over the last 20 years. Overall industry sales have taken a similar drop. Sales in the early 90’s were counted in the billions of dollars. In 2008, sales were around $200 million.
The good news for those who buy baseball cards as an investment is that cards that are graded by professional grading and authenticating companies like Beckett, BGS and PSA, have either maintained, or risen in value. Graded rookie cards and autographed baseball cards have done very well.
Basically, buying baseball cards as an investment requires as much research and due diligence as would be needed to make any other investment decision. Although I have traded a few cards here and there, I have never actually sold any. I would definitely be considered “just a collector”.
There are many reasons people buy baseball cards. Whether you are buying them for the fun of it (like me), as an investment, or any other reason, you should always think about your own reason before you buy. Don’t forget, baseball cards make a great gift idea for any age and anytime.
The internet offers you literally millions of baseball card options with a simple click. In recent years I have been making an increasing number of card purchases through internet sites such as Amazon and Sports Memorabilia.com. If auctions are your thing, sites like eBay give you the opportunity to bid on cards against other buyers. You may be buying from other collectors, investors, or dealers, so always make sure you do some homework on the seller.
A lot of dealers have also set up their own sites, giving you the opportunity to browse their entire collection.
The internet is a great place to start when your looking for baseball cards. It has never been easier to find and purchase that special card you’ve been looking for that no one seems to have. Just remember to buy from a reputable retailer or seller. Always make sure the seller offers a return guarantee.
The local hobby shop is still my favorite place to go when I’m looking for baseball cards. Hobby shops will usually offer a wide variety of baseball cards as well as many other trading cards. Many also offer a good selection of older cards too.
Owners of hobby shops are usually very knowledgeable when it comes to trading cards. They can be a great source of information. They will most likely be more than happy to help you set up your card collection and help you with any questions you may have. They will assist you in finding a certain card and help you with pricing your collection. Hobby shops are definitely a great place to make your next card purchase.
Retail stores like Kmart, Target, and Meijer often have a small section dedicated to trading cards. While you are not going to get nearly the selection you would from a hobby shop, you can usually find some big mark downs on large box sets. A few years back, my local Kmart had a whole shelf full of cards in a can. This was a special edition made by card maker Pinnacle. They had these cans on clearance for 99 cents a can, so I did what any collector would do and bought almost the whole shelf!
Although I have no intention of ever selling any of them, I have seen them going for anywhere between $2 – 20$ for unopened individual cans.
Retail stores may not offer the best selection, but from time to time you can find good deals that just can’t be beat anywhere else. If you are anything like me and very rarely go “shopping”, looking for deals on baseball cards is a great way to spend your time at the store while receiving “shopping credits” with your better half.
If you enjoy spending time with other people who share your interests, joining a card trading club can be a very enjoyable way to buy and trade cards. You can check with your local hobby shops to see if they have any trading clubs that you may be interested in. If not, ask if they would be interested in forming one. I almost guarantee they will be happy to assist you.
If meeting in person is not your thing, try doing a Google search for online baseball card trading clubs. You are going to find a lot of clubs that you can join and most of them are free. The same rules apply here: Before you buy or trade any card, do your homework on the seller. Most of these clubs already have systems in place to verify traders and sellers.
Remember when buying and trading online that there will be shipping costs involved. Make sure to include these when you are trying to figure out if you are getting a deal or not. That card you want may be a few dollars cheaper online, but you may end up paying more for it after shipping costs.
Card shows are a great place to check out the latest cards coming out and a wide variety of vintage cards as well. Look into upcoming events at places like your local flea markets and card or hobby shops. Lots of dealers and other collectors will have booths and tables set up for you to check out their latest offers. And bonus, they are usually willing to negotiate with you on the prices.
Card shows are a great place to look for baseball cards when you are looking for those hard to find cards, and are looking to get them for a great price.
There are many different ways to buy baseball cards. Here I have discussed a few of my personal favorites. Don’t let yourself become restricted to only one source. Remember to always shop around a little until you find exactly what you are looking for. Don’t settle!
If you are looking for autographed baseball cards, always buy from reputable retailers like Sports Memorabilia.com. They are a Google trusted store. Always make sure you are provided with a certificate of authenticity and a grading from a service like PSA. And don’t forget the return guarantee!
I hope you have found this article informative and helpful. Should you have any questions about how or where to buy baseball cards, or if you would like to share your own favorites, please do leave a comment below and I will get back with you a.s.a.p. Thanks for stopping by. ~Jeremy
Another great article!
Funny story (well not really lol):
Around the time of the Barry Bonds scandal, (actually the morning after if i recall correctly) I had my notebook full of baseball cards next to my bed upright. I also had a glass of Minute Maid’s “Berry Punch” sitting on the night stand. You could imagine what happens next.
I wake up, accidentally knock over my “Berry Punch”, which conveniently spills all over the cards, there by “juicing them” and forever tainting the game of baseball.
To this day they still make a slight “sticking” sound when you flip the pages. Not all of them are ruined, but it was almost like a prophecy or something. Baseball will never be the same.
Stu!! This has to be one of the greatest baseball card tragedies I’ve ever heard! Sorry about your cards man, but I just can’t stop laughing. I hope you don’t mind, but I will be sharing the “Berry incident” to everyone I know. Thanks for stopping by and sharing Stu, and stop by anytime and talk some baseball! ~Jeremy
I love this idea! It is often hard to find someone knowledgeable about old vintage items. I think this is a great niche. Very good job and being informative with your content. Keep it up! 🙂
Thank you April! If you ever need a hand with pricing, or would like some more information on an item that you have, just stop by and let me know, I’m always happy to help. Thanks for dropping by. ~Jeremy
As a casual card collector, I find a lot of useful information in your article. Have a Barry Bonds rookie card. My first year for collecting was 1962. My younger brothers tore up or lost all of those cards. Will be coming back to this site to see what other information you have.
Hi John. I can’t even remember how many cards I lost or ruined when I was a kid. I just wish I had them all now! Thanks for stopping by John, and if you ever want to part with that Bonds rookie card, look me up. ~Jeremy
Ty Jord says
I’ve always was curious about card collecting, your info has answered a few lingering questions.
Thanks for posting and best wishes.
You are most welcome Ty. I’m glad the article was able to help you with some questions. Stop by anytime. Best wishes to you as well. ~Jeremy
Gosh this brings back memories. I haven’t collected cards since I was a kid. Funny how you mention Topps. That was also the very first pack I ever received. I don’t know why I’m thinking back to my obsession with the hard stick of gum that comes with each pack lol. There’s some really interesting info in this article I never even considered. But when I was a kid, I really didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t value this kind of thing the same.
Hey Paul.I remember that piece of gum! That was a great promotional idea that you just don’t see anymore. That was the best gum, not sure why they stopped doing that. I had no idea back then about the value of those cards either, I hate to think how many cards I ruined! Thanks for dropping by. ~Jeremy