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Old 10-08-2012, 11:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default "My First Big Case Break!!!" - Results and Feedback

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!
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Last edited by calculusdork; 01-11-2013 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Nice read, thanks for posting your overall experience.

I've been thinking of doing a big break eventually, but don't know if I'm up for all the sorting.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Nice read, thanks for posting your overall experience.

I've been thinking of doing a big break eventually, but don't know if I'm up for all the sorting.
It is really hard work. Feels like physical labor. Or maybe data entry. Or maybe data entry where you are forced to stand and/or sit uncomfortably.

You have the best username ever, BTW.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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That was an entertaining read - thanks for sharing your experience!
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Great read. Looking foward to your next report.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:41 AM   #6 (permalink)
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It really makes people think twice if they want to do this.


+1 for talking about both the UPS and DOWNS of doing the break
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Great report on highs and lows of breaking cases, it was very interesting to read!

One thing I've never used before is Turbolister, probably because I don't list multiple items much and I just use a previous template through eBay and adjust the listing as needed. Is Turbolister the way to go even when only listing 1-2 things at a time?
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I really enjoyed following your previous thread, and I especially enjoyed your breakdown posted above. Good job, and I wish you the best on the profit margin.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Great read. It's fun to hear all the positives AND negatives with the process. I know exactly what you mean about your back. Been trying to find a way around that myself. Good luck with the rest of your sorting.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I would strongly suggest picking up a few of these sorting trays. It will cut down on your set sorting time significantly.

Card Sorting Tray / Display for Sports and Non Sports Cards / Magic / Yu Gi Oh | eBay

Generally when I have a very large break like this, I will sort everything out by 100's, then 10's, and finally single cards. Start building the sets from the bottom card up, taking notes on each pile if there is an incomplete set or 2. For me this is a significantly quicker process.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I use these when I have to sort for group breaks:

Card Sorting Tray / Display for Sports and Non Sports Cards / Magic / Yu Gi Oh | eBay

They are a life saver when sorting a ton of cards. The only drawback is they are a strange size (6x3).
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:17 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by pskell02 View Post
I would strongly suggest picking up a few of these sorting trays. It will cut down on your set sorting time significantly.

Card Sorting Tray / Display for Sports and Non Sports Cards / Magic / Yu Gi Oh | eBay

Generally when I have a very large break like this, I will sort everything out by 100's, then 10's, and finally single cards. Start building the sets from the bottom card up, taking notes on each pile if there is an incomplete set or 2. For me this is a significantly quicker process.
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I use these when I have to sort for group breaks:

Card Sorting Tray / Display for Sports and Non Sports Cards / Magic / Yu Gi Oh | eBay

They are a life saver when sorting a ton of cards. The only drawback is they are a strange size (6x3).


Excellent, thanks for the links. That would help out significantly.

As for the sorting "process", Brent says he now sorts directly into sets of 10. I will have to respectfully disagree with him that this is the best way. My average time going by 10s directly was about 35-37 minutes per set ... average time going by 100s, then 10s, was about 29-31 minutes per set. Might vary person to person ... all has to do with how your brain works I guess.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Great report on highs and lows of breaking cases, it was very interesting to read!

One thing I've never used before is Turbolister, probably because I don't list multiple items much and I just use a previous template through eBay and adjust the listing as needed. Is Turbolister the way to go even when only listing 1-2 things at a time?
Turbolister will change your life.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Great read, Grant. I'd love to help a big casebreaker break cases, but I don't know any that live near me.

In terms of sorting, I made my own placemat in Excel that helps with the process. PM me your email address, and I'll shoot you a copy of what I did. It helps you sort by number, team name, or team city. All you need to do is print it out, tape it together, and have it laminated.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Fantastic post. Thanks for sharing!

I also sort into 10's out of the packs. Everyone is different, and a lot of what determines your sorting speed is getting into a reliable sorting rhythm, a rhythm in which you don't make mistakes. Finding that right rhythm for you is a personal preference.

If getting hits listed is of utmost importance, then I wouldn't sort into 10's, because doing so adds time to the busting phase. If you really need to get the hits out and listed ASAP, then I'd sort 100's, or don't even sort at all. But then you've got a sorting mess ahead of you.

I've done 10 cases of *hobby* (way more packs than Jumbo) before - 2011 Bowman MLB. And it's just me. No help at all. That was my limit. I was completely out of gas at the end of that break. No way could I do 20-60 cases by myself. Brent, I believe, has a lot of help. And that help, I believe, is critical to his business. Anyone wanting to do that many cases must have a team of people helping with different phases of the break.

Right now I stick to 4-6 cases, it works for me, I can do it fast and with little/no mistakes, and I don't go insane from being too busy. Also, I'm doing basketball mostly. You baseball case breakers have completely stolen the entire market! You baseball pigs!
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:32 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Turbolister will change your life.
And then Selling Manager Pro will change it again (templates FTW!)
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:38 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Sounds like fun. When I worked in a card shop in the 80's those sets had around 800 cards and the break down was miserable. There was no joy in finding hits because there really weren't any. Big question...will you be able to turn a profit when all's said and done?
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:38 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Great report on highs and lows of breaking cases, it was very interesting to read!

One thing I've never used before is Turbolister, probably because I don't list multiple items much and I just use a previous template through eBay and adjust the listing as needed. Is Turbolister the way to go even when only listing 1-2 things at a time?
Yes, I would still recommend it even for listing a few cards at a time. Much better interface than using My eBay.

Only complaint is that it is a little clunky at times, especially with loading pictures (this could be due more to overly high compression settings on my scans, resulting in large JPG files though).
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:38 PM   #19 (permalink)
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And then Selling Manager Pro will change it again (templates FTW!)
OKOK.. you win!
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:40 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing this. I think you will be able to decrease set building time by 5-10 min per set once you refine and practice your process. Personally I never double check sets for accuracy. I used to have problems similar to those you mentioned with missing cards but once I stuck to the same process I rarely run into an issue. Also I agree with the preselling Topps Update sets comment. With Update (except for Master Sets) I usually take my time and sell them off slowly at BIN prices during the off season. They tend to hold their value better than Series 1 & 2.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:41 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I use the cardboard sorting trays. They work great if you sort by 100s (which I usually do). However, I'm going to attempt to sort by 10s this time to see how that goes.

Yes, still waiting on my case. Joys of being west coast.

(2) BCW SORTING TRAY TRADING CARD CARDBOARD STORAGE BOXES | eBay
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:43 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I did one case of Update with my son - had to wait until THU evening to list the hits because I missed UPS on WED and ended up getting relatively killed on 3-day auctions that ended last night - usually that formula does OK for me but not this time. Did you list your big hits on WED as 1-day auctions or BIN/BO?
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:54 PM   #23 (permalink)
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And then Selling Manager Pro will change it again (templates FTW!)
Never heard of it..
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:55 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Never heard of it..
I checked it out, and it's an extra $16 a month, and is more helpful for very high volume sellers and dealers, rather than Joe Schmoe.

P.S. Wilson Valdez came up to bat last night in the Reds game, and I thought of you. Have you made an impact on my life? Yes! Has it been positive? You bet your bottom dollar, honey boo boo!

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Old 10-08-2012, 12:57 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tajikey View Post
I checked it out, and it's an extra $16 a month, and is more helpful for very high volume sellers and dealers, rather than Joe Schmoe.

P.S. Wilson Valdez came up to bat last night in the Reds game, and I thought of you. Have you made an impact on my life, yes? Has it been positive, you bet your bottom dollar, honey boo boo!
I will pass...I am no big baller like Mr. Monkey McGee.

Edit: I love you too
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