This week’s Shop Talk finds itself piggybacking of sorts off of last week’s topic of retail sports card madness.
Dave, one of our long-time customers, is known to make the trek out in the wild and try to track down sports cards all over creation. We spoke to him this week and he informed us that he went to our local Target at 3:45 in the morning– yes, you read that right– to attempt to score some boxes.
At that pre-crack of dawn hour, there were already five people in line ahead of him.
To give a little bit of backstory, the Target locations in our area recently started a policy of releasing all cards at 8 AM Friday mornings… and that’s that.
From the retail management perspective, that probably made sense in the fact that they would only have to deal with this madness once a week and, in theory, only for an hour or so but from the consumer perspective that just caused an absolute avalanche of flippers, investors and, I guess, a few actual collectors arriving at the front door 6 to 8 hours before the release.
Photo from Facebook
Dave, from what he said, walked away with a few Donruss blasters. From my perspective that seems like a pretty terrible way to start your day.
That got us thinking about the amount of time and effort it takes to make money buying retail product.
If Target is releasing the hounds at 8 AM and you were there around 3 AM, that’s five hours of potential work or, even better, sleep that you’re missing out on. If you make even a reasonable hourly rate or salary it’s going to take quite a few Prizm blasters or hangers to make that money up. If you end up with anything less you pretty much wasted your time. That’s not even taking into account the people that I know personally in our area who drive from over an hour away or drive hours and hours between locations to try and score product on a regular basis. Please help me in figuring out how on earth you have the time to do this. I mean, we all love the thrill of the hunt, but…
Again, I’m simply speaking about the facts I have at hand about our local situation but from what I read on social media, we’re far from alone. There is a limit of three products per person at our local Target. A quick search on eBay will show that you can sleep in as long as you like or work a real job and buy Prizm blasters for right around $125-$140. Of course, if you’re paying $20 and change at the store, that is an amazing flip. Kudos and congratulations to you but we need to make sure you take into account the nearly 15% you’re losing from eBay fees and gas money, not to mention what you could be doing to make even more money in the same amount of time–without the standing in the cold part.
Of course, if you’re selling on Facebook, Twitter Instagram or another social media platform then you’d save that much if you’re willing to take the risk of the transaction going smoothly. Make sure you are factoring in the cost of shipping or as we see, calling and running the product around to all of your LCS to try to sell to them at a huge profit. Also, if you sell enough on the Bay, you will be responsible for all the tax implications that come with your sales.
What the trading card section used to look like at Target a few years ago. Remember?
There are other ways that money is made off these seemingly limited retail products. I guess an incredibly small percentage of people open the product and either add the nicer cards to their collection or sell the singles. In theory, you can make a few bucks here and there or, gasp, collect the cards and enjoy them.
Another not so quick and incredibly annoying search on eBay would show you that sellers are doing box breaks of blasters. To my old head that is absolutely insane but money could be made from that angle, no doubt. Again, factor in the time and energy to do a box break for a blaster. Your “profit” dwindles by the second.
Yet another option would be to buy Prizm blasters, cellos and hangars and sit on them. As we all know very well, the price of sealed Prizm just continues to go up year over year (Check out the price of 2013-14 Prizm blasters) but that would be more of a long-term investment, which, I can’t imagine the people waiting in line at these stores are doing. Turn and burn is the mindset of most waiting in these early morning lines.
The one missing piece of this semi-coherent puzzle that I’m piecing together is that, to this point, we haven’t addressed the elephant at the checkout. This argument is based off the assumption that you’re hitting big when you go to these retail establishments. If you go and you’re not getting big dogs like Prizm you’re pretty much wasting your time. You could get lucky and sell some other lower to middle end product but I feel like this game in the long term doesn’t end well for most anyone involved.
If you come up short, what do you do next? The answer to people we talk to to seems to be to try to hit up the next closest location. This could quickly turn into a never-ending cycle of wasted time. To an old dude like me, it feels like chasing your losses at the craps table, blackjack or on a slot machine. To take the time, energy and everything else you are sacrificing and have it potentially be unproductive just seems to be an awful way to spend your limited amount of time. And even if you are making a profit, it’s not going to last forever. Target has already stopped selling sports cards in some locations.
Just two pennies from the perspective of a guy who works at a local card shop. Have a wonderful week. If you head out to capture the elusive retail beast make sure you dress warm, drink plenty of fluids and please wear your helmet and shoulder pads.
I’ll be sure to check back in soon.