Running Out of Options

We’re still in the midst of March Madness, so basketball has been on my mind more often than usual lately.  I’ve been neglecting my basketball collections for the most part.  One major reason is that they are very specific.  There aren’t a lot of people actively looking to push their 1995-96 Series 1 Basketball inserts on me in this blogging world.  Also, there aren’t a lot of people reading that are working on the 2010-11 Panini NBA sticker album either.

That means, I have to resort to other methods of acquiring my cards and stickers.  The sticker album has been especially tough to finish.  My options are either to buy more packs (which haven’t been in stores for months), or possibly a box but I don’t think I need enough to make that worthwhile, and I don’t need all those doubles, and there’s still a small chance I could walk away incomplete.  That really leaves buying singles from somewhere.

As of today there are a whopping 20 stickers listed on Sportlots and only 2 on COMC.  That creates quite the dilemma.  Long story short, I ended up buying some directly from Panini’s website.  It turned out to be a lot cheaper than the alternatives, but still not totally ideal.

First scan with my new scanner. They sent me 2 Kobe's by mistake, so if anyone needs one, let me know.

I’ll spare you the details on what I picked up, because I think I’ll be picking up more (they have a 40 sticker per order limit).  After all, what other options do I really have?  You’ll get a big ol’ completed pages post then.  In the meantime, this little situation made me think.

Even if Check Out My Cards had more than 2 stickers available that I needed, I wouldn’t have used them.  I may be in the minority, but I don’t have an account with them.  I currently don’t see the point, especially as a seller.  You have to pay to ship your cards, pay to have them processed, pay extra if you want it done faster, pay extra if you have oversized or slabbed cards, pay extra if you want to mark them a certain condition, pay to keep them in their warehouse if they aren’t selling, pay to have them sent back.  Don’t forget you can’t just buy things. You have to pay for the card, then you have pay what I consider to be an outrageous amount to have it shipped.  If you want to receive cash instead of “store credit” you have to pay another fee on top of that.

In my mind, if I’m a seller, it really doesn’t seem like a worthwhile alternative to ebay at all.  It sounds like a stock market.  There are a lot of people that have had success on that site, but after taking all the fees into consideration, it’s tough to imagine much of a profit margin.  As a buyer, it may be okay, but I can’t get past the shipping fees.

Sportlots has been good for us as far as selling goes, but buying makes my head hurt.  I don’t know how many of you have tried navigating that website, but it is a serious pain.  They keep trying to make improvements, but you basically have to know exactly what you’re looking for and be willing to put in the time to get to it.  There are a lot of unnecessary steps involved in getting what you want and then finding more from the same seller (which is key to keep shipping costs down).  I’m not a fan of the $.18 minimum price either.  I get it, but it’s still annoying when you want to buy what should be a $.05 or $.10 card.

Long story short, there are obvious benefits and limitations to both of these websites.  Probably more limitations than there should be, but at least alternatives to ebay exist.

So, where am I going with all of this?  It all leads into our next FREE BOX BREAK QUESTION:  Forget about Ebay, if you’re using Sportlots and/or Check Out My Cards, what do you like about them and what would you want to see changed or improved about them?  Feel free to be as broad and specific as you’d like.  If you currently don’t use either of them for a particular reason, what is that reason?  Hey, who knows, maybe someone from those sites will be listening.

30 comments to Running Out of Options

  • I have not used either site. I have not had a reason to look for single cards on there a of yet. Most of mine have come in trades from out here in the blogosphere. maybe later this season I’ll look into it but I’m good for now.

  • I’d like to be able to enter a list of cards (carefully formatted) where the site would go through and figure out how I’d save the most money by combining shipping, etc.

  • Zach

    I looked into COMC a little while ago and all of the things you mentioned definitely made me shy away. I think I will stick with eBay for buying in selling since I have built a good reputation there and there are plenty of buyers and sellers. I don’t know why someone doesn’t design a user friendly site for the hobby. That’s my two cents.

  • Nick M.

    I have yet to use either site but did look into Check Out My Cards. After seeing all the fees, the whole process on how things are handled I didn’t stay long, but right now I am still working on a lot of various base and insert sets so depending on how badly I need a card I would consider them but not at this time.

  • I haven’t used either yet, but mainly because I just haven’t pulled the trigger. I’m aware of both, but yet to lose my “v-card” on either of those sites yet.

  • I haven’t used either site. I’m pretty much just trading with other bloggers lately.

  • I have looked at them, but don’t use them. Why? I don’t know, I guess I prefer eBay. Either that or maybe I am just lazy and should go look!

  • COMC is a big rip off… mostly like what you said. It’s fine if you find one card of value that you want, but to try and buy multiple cards or god forbid base cards… forget it.
    Sportslots is great because it’s the only site I’ve found where you can buy base cards of sports other than baseball cheaply. Although if you want the latest greatest thing….. it’s not for you as it takes awhile for new products to be posted.

  • Alec

    I’ve used COMC and kinda like being able to get base cards for a reasonable price (usually). I actually do find their fees and shipping acceptable, especially compared to buying base cards on eBay or something. But I’v never used Sportslots, maybe I should…

  • I use COMC. It’s very shopper friendly. Yeah, maybe you pay more in shipping, but I don’t find it much worse than eBay. It hasn’t bothered me too much.

    I’ve tried navigating Sportlots, but, like you say, it gives me a headache.

    Shopping convenience means a lot to me. COMC has it. Sportlots doesn’t.

  • Play at the Plate

    I don’t shop online if I have to use paypal to buy. My paypal account got pirated a few years back and I had to go through a mess before it was straightened out so I don’t use it anymore even though I know it’s probably pretty safe. I do buy sometimes from blowout sellers, but only if they take a snail mail payment.

  • Haven’t used Sportlots before. I have an account with COMC, and cards sitting in my cart, but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I need to soon. I’d never look to sell on either, but I don’t mind buying from COMC if I find a card I haven’t come across on eBay before, or for a better price.

    Shipping from most services is over-the-top though, even with a lot of eBayers.

  • stealing home

    i haven’t used either of those to sell yet, as i’m focused on trading with my fellow bloggers. i occasionally buy at the whirlpool because its the most familiar and convenient to me.

  • I would really like to see a sort by team feature added to one of both of those sites especially COMC. I use Sportslots for commons and such to fill out team sets and other sets, but I use COMC for inserts/parallels and relics which are not as easy to find a team listing for.

  • Jason Cline

    I don’t use them. There’s nothing wrong with either of them, I just spend enough money on cards in other avenues.

  • Dan

    I use COMC a lot especially for insert cards….the best thing is that it’s easily navigable and searchable….I wouldn’t go there to finish off a Topps set, example. A lot is overpriced because people use book value to price cards, though convenience sometimes wins.

    Sportslots is good if you only have a couple sets in mind you’re trying to complete. Trying to search within the same seller and multiple sets I still haven’t figured out. The trick is to try and minimize shipping when you can, and I’ve found by limiting my scope i can do that.

  • Steve D.

    I haven’t purchased from either. I love using COMC to see what cards I’m interesting in actually look like (great for seeing what team someone is featured with), but the shipping is definitely a turn off for me. I’ve come close to using Sportlots and have put things in my cart a few times. But it really is a pain to search through different sellers’ cards. I was going to use it help build a player collection, but without seeing the cards that each seller had to offer, I would’ve had to get 1 or 2 cards from like 15 different sellers which made no sense to me.

  • Joey

    I havent gotten cards from either because I feel like bying cards online is somewhat risky. I would like to seen better shipping rates.

  • love COMC its an easy site with great pictues, the one thing i hate is the shipping charges. I understand they have to make some money but damn! Thats the one thing i would change.

  • Shed

    I use COMC to sell some cards and so far it has been great. They quickly scan your cards and get them up on the site. I also like how you can take your “monies?’ and use it towards blowoutcards.com , because obviously I need more cards

  • I like the availability of a lot of hard to find cards. I dislike all the fees. Sometimes i think they can be a bit extravagant.

  • I use sportlots. I’d like to be able to tag a long list of cards that I’m interested in, then be able to select from that list the cards I want to purchase at that time. Currently you have to pay for all the cards at one time.

  • The Diamond King

    COMC seems a little complicated, but that could just be my laziness in looking at it. I have been tempted by sportslots, especially for set completion. I’m sure I’ll take the plunge there someday.

  • I like Sportlots because it is about the cheapest way you can buy commen singles. Pretty sure when I used them last though I bought stuff for less than .18 each so to be honest it has been a long long while. You are right their search sucks, and it takes a little while to figure out how to search by vendor but once you do it is easy to pick out a ton of stuff from one guy and ship it all together.

    I have a whole bunch of cards in my COMC portfolio but I have never had them shipped yet because they charge to dang much for shipping. At some point I will break down and pay to ship them but to be honest I would never have purchased from them to begin with if I had realized they were going to take me on the shipping. After investigating it the only reason I could see someone useing them to sell is because there is little you have to do as a seller to list cards. You send a lot of cards and they send you an email when they are loaded so you can price them. Basicly the difference in what you would make from ebay is the cost of them doing the scanning, listing and packaging for the buyer. This would probably work best as kind of a trade site for the stuff you can’t get rid of another way.

    A diffferent place I have bought cards is http://www.blujay.com. I bought hunderds of cards from user goyboy. He was great to work with, prices were right and shipping was minimal. If he had any more Red Sox cards I need I would buy more from him.

  • I haven’t used either. I’ve been close to using COMC but haven’t pulled the trigger on any yet.

  • I haven’t tried either one yet. Maybe someday !

  • arpsmith

    I use Sportlots. I actually sell some stuff on there then turn my sales profits around and buy stuff from their site. A fringe benefit is being able to print out lists of cards I have by player to use for trades. Another cool feature on sportlots are the auctions. I haven’t sold anything there but you can get some good buys. I have bought some vintage cards for under $1 plus a buck or two for shipping (1955 Bowman, 1959 Topps, 1952 Topps, lots of 60s and 70s cards too). I would recommend checking it out – just don’t bid against me!

  • Philip D

    I have yet to use either…but this article has me curious!

  • I’m still only an ebay guy and I know that might not be the smartest move on my part. I’m willing and interested in checking out the other sites – and I’m going to review all of these comments to determine pros/cons. Thanks for this question.

  • I only use Sportlots when I’m down to a few cards for a set… however, I use COMC all of the time. I personally think it’s the greatest thing the hobby has seen since eBay. I guess if I had to make a change, I’d say lower shipping charges. But I understand they have to charge those service fees, so I’m not really complaining.

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