As some of you may recall, I did my first big case break this past week. My wife and I busted 6 jumbo cases of Topps Update. The initial learning process was chronicled here
I am back at "work" today (meaning my real job, where I am paid too much to do very little), and after somewhat allowing the dust to settle, I have some initial thoughts. I'm going to ping Brent Williams and see if he has time to address and respond here ... he was a tremendous
help, and I owe him a fine champagne for his time and assistance. I mean that, seriously.
Alright, here goes ... a synopsis of my experience and lessons learned:
1. Busting packs is still as fun as it ever was. We had an absolute blast. I got home at noon on Wednesday (after "the call" from my wife), and we started ripping. Took us 4 hours to rip through all the packs, but this includes the time I spent putting big hits on eBay immediately as they were pulled. Which brings me to my next point ...
2. Being the first (or one of the first) to get the high-dollar cards on eBay is critical. I sold a Harper "Golden Moments" auto for $225. The first sold for $350 ... I was the second sale. I believe subsequent sales dipped into the low 100's by later that evening / early the next day. I also sold the amazing Mickey Mantle relic #d/69 for $210, and my pair of SSPs (Youkilis and A. Gonzalez) for $230.
3. Scanning cards and listing through Turbolister is actually kind of fun. You get to really look at the cards at this point. I went through and cropped each individual card for its own photo, which really wasn't that bad at all. I started at 5:00 pm on Thursday, and had everything scanned, cropped, and listed by 11:00 pm. I did not list most of my variations, rings, or plaques though ... trying to build sets of those. Turbolister has its glitches, but overall makes things much easier than using eBay directly.
4. You see some funny things on eBay. I had a Brian Duensing black parallel listed for $4.99, with a BIN of $9.99. Final sale price? $15.39. Buyer? Brian's mother.
5. My next, final, and most engrossing thought overall -- addresses the perils of sorting base cards. Six cases of Topps Update is 14,000-15,000 base cards. I knew this going in, and I knew what it would look like, but I still drastically underestimated the amount of time required to assemble 36 base sets. I pre-sold 29 base sets and 4 master sets. We stacked our base cards by box (knowing you can get 1 set per box, right?). Several issues here:
(A) Many boxes left us short 1-2 base cards. Not a big deal at first glance, except that it slows down the process tremendously and potentially takes away from other sets.
(B) Many boxes had cards with print errors (name lightly-stamped on front). Again, takes additional time, and also left me unable to complete any additional sets over what I pre-sold because, of course, the printing errors occurred across several boxes and involved the same handful of cards.
(C) I don't know how to stress this point enough. Sorting base sets takes a lot of time. A lot. Even at your fastest, you need to budget an absolute minimum of 30 minutes per set. By the time I finished, I was able to sort and double-check base sets (as well as sort duplicates into their own piles) in 30 minutes flat, but this pace will exhaust you quickly. For my next break, I will be constructing a couple of "sorting boxes" to speed up the process a bit. Ultimately, including time budgeted for breaks, you need to give yourself 33-35 minutes (or more) per set. To the next point ...
(D) Double-checking your base sets is a necessity. I shipped out 8 sets on Thursday, and I already got 3 emails from buyers saying they were missing a card or two, and had duplicates of a couple cards. I did not double-check these sets because I was in a hurry to get them out the door (made promises to buyers). Buyers were very understanding ... one guy said he could tell I was "burning the midnight oil" because I gave him two US233 cards but no US223, and two US327 cards but no US237. Making unnecessary promises to buyers, coupled with not double-checking the sets (it only takes 2-3 minutes per set!) is my second-biggest regret. My biggest regret? ...
(E) ... I should not have pre-sold these sets. They are selling for more now than they were before release. This was a mistake, and Brent tried to tell me but only after I had pre-sold about 25 or so sets.
(F) All that said ... I don't see how the big breakers do it. I sorted 30 sets total (had help with 3 others from my wife and a friend, it was all they could take), and as I told Brent ... I wanted to die. I think a lot of it has to do with working alone ... if I'd had a friend there working with me (which I will for the next break), I think I would have been more motivated. A lot of it has to do with not being able to get comfortable. My back still hurts, seriously, and I was only sitting/standing there. A big kudos to you guys who can sort lots of base quickly and efficiently, and not want to gouge out your eyes.
My overall feeling? Well, I'm back at my job today, and after all is said and done, I would rather be at home sorting base cards with an aching back. I have a real sense of accomplishment, something my full-time job doesn't really provide. This break was fun and exhausting, rewarding and challenging ... and I think I can improve on my methods and process tremendously next time.
Alright, those are my "initial" thoughts. The dust is still settling with eBay auctions ... hopefully within a couple weeks I will have a brief report of my profits and other thoughts.
Thanks for reading!