I Spent $100K Flipping Pokémon Cards. Here’s How It Went

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With a naive sense of confidence, I spent six figures buying and selling Pokémon cards during the pandemic-fueled TCG boom. Here's how I fared (and a few lessons I learned) during my trip down nostalgia lane.

If there were a silver lining to be found amidst an angst-filled 2020, it was that many people had the free time to rediscover things that were previously important to them.

Reconnecting (virtually) with old friends, their love for being outdoors, a rekindled fire for an old hobby. You name it, we learned a lot about what we used to do during our downtime way back when handheld technology didn’t occupy our every waking moment. After all, even binge-watching Netflix gets boring after a few weeks. 

The latter of those aforementioned rediscoveries — an old hobby — turned out to be the most unexpected, but one of the more welcome, developments to resurface during my last trip around the sun. Six months and six figures later I’m sharing the lessons I learned flipping Pokemon trading cards to make money during the pandemic. 

A Pleasant Surprise 

It’s mid-October and I’m trapped at home like millions of other Americans, weary of the restrictions put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. (I work from home, so this isn’t new to me. But I do enjoy the occasional Starbucks workday.) I’m mindlessly scrolling my Facebook news feed and up pops the dreaded “Suggested for You” section that almost never contains content I’m actually interested in. 

But today was different. Today, Facebook’s algorithm accidentally guessed correctly. (The digital marketer in me can appreciate the cookie-setting, browser-spying, API-integrating, web property-tracking behemoth that Facebook is.) 

They flashed the one headline my eyes (and mouse) simply couldn’t gloss over. 

leonhart facebook video thumbnail

I was flabbergasted. I had those. A whole binder full of those. Who didn’t? A late-eighties baby, I turned double digits at the height of the Pokemon boom.

For several years, I begged my mom to buy me single packs at a local card shop, Target, 7-Eleven, wherever one could find them. Laughably, I did chores at an unprecedented clip.

The shiny cardboard. The glossing over them with friends on the school bus. The immense jealousy of the kids that had better cards (that their parents bought them, cheaters). 

The nostalgia.

I watched it, the entire video. All 25 minutes of it. (Spoiler alert: Leonhart didn’t pull a $100,000 card in that video, but he did pull one worth $500,000 in this later-published video.) 

And just like that, I was entirely re-hooked. The child-like giddiness of getting to watch someone open packs, and of course, wanting to now do it myself, had re-emerged. 

Reality Check 

And just like that, the brakes got pumped. A quick eBay search showed the packs that I was accustomed to forking over $2.99 for in 1999 had swelled to over $600 each.

Turns out that when the most popular franchise of all time (and it is not even close) stops printing the original vintage cards, nearly twenty years later, the price continues to increase as supply drops. 

base set unlimited booster pack prices reach over $600 on ebay

After all, it’s not like they printed unlimited sealed packs. Wizards of the Coast (the original designer-manufacturer of the cards in the U.S.) produced a few tens-of-thousands of sealed packs of various print runs, and that was it. Production stopped in 2003, and the rest is history (Nintendo took over and began their own card series). 

To add salt to my now wounded psyche, I discovered I had done what every 2020 Pokemon re-discoverer kicked themselves for. I sold my entire collection on eBay years earlier for what now amounted to pennies on the dollar. $112.00 for entire completed Base, Fossil, and Jungle sets, among other assorted incomplete sets/semi high-value cards. Fail.  

Not all hope was lost, however, as now, twenty years later, I was armed with two very important pieces of ammunition to once again rebuild my collection: disposable income and digital marketing knowledge. 

Turning a Hobby into a Side Hustle

To the fervent card collector, one who holds the view that a card’s intrinsic value is measured in memories, not its monetary worth, the rest of this article may present as a nuisance plaguing the hobby.

But I promise there are several ways to flip undervalued cards without harming the hobby in the same way that scalpers prevent the next generation of Pokemon lovers (and nostalgic adults) from finding product on modern store shelves. 

And to that effect, that is where my October Pokemon rediscovery began. I spent weeks in early-to-mid October studying the value of the vintage products I was already familiar with — both sealed packs and single Wizards of the Coast (WOTC)-era cards.

(The modern Pokemon sets also have higher-value cards — in the several hundred to even several thousand dollar range — but I felt like I didn’t know enough about them yet to devote income/resources to cards I didn’t fully understand.)

I wanted to make at least semi-informed decisions about the cards I was buying. I wanted to have a systematic way of approaching and identifying undervalued cards, and an equally systematic way for selling them, taking any guesswork/emotional attachment out of the process. 

Related: 41 Ways to Make Money Fast 

Developing a Working System 

My initial due diligence led me to discover that eBay “comps,” as they’re called, were an easy way to get a snapshot idea of what recently sold cards were going for that week.

eBay's recently sold filters allow users to get an idea of the current market or "comparative" price for a particular card. Screenshot | eBay
eBay’s recently sold filters allow users to get an idea of the current market or “comparative” price for a particular card. Screenshot | eBay

Furthermore, third-party enthusiast sites like TCGplayer or even grading services such as Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) have indexes that allow you to see, perhaps most importantly, the historical trends of raw and graded card prices. 

historical price trend for a psa 10-graded pokemon base set unlimited charizard holographic card
Historical price trend for a PSA 10-graded Base Set Unlimited Charizard Holographic Pokemon card. Screenshot | PSA Website

Using these sources, you can quickly construct a spreadsheet of the current market value of cards circulating on for-sale platforms. During my research, I built a sheet that tracked the prices of popular vintage cards in the original WOTC prints — and mostly holographic cards, at that.

I intentionally went for higher-value cards not only because they had higher margins (and downside protection against occasional losses) but also because of their enhanced liquidity/sales volume (they are generally more sought-after cards despite their relative rarity). 

Now, I had never forayed into card-grading as a pre-teen. But it quickly became apparent that getting max-value for a specific Pokemon card was to acquire near-mint to mint versions of high-margin cards and then send them in to get graded (which increases the value anywhere from 2-10x the “raw” or ungraded value of the card). 

There was only one problem: grading cards takes time and the market can move quickly — especially with the bubble/meteoric rise in card prices that the pandemic brought about.

With turnaround times at major grading services ranging anywhere from a few days to over a year, I didn’t want to absorb the risk of buying cards, sending them off to get graded, and then have to watch helplessly as the price point/support that I bought the raw card at get decimated as card values were to fall (and I didn’t have my card back from the grading service yet).

Disclaimer: I have bought and sent dozens of cards to third-party graders to get graded in the hopes of the card values increasing upon return. They represent a small portion of my overall “portfolio” of cards, and more importantly, ones that I am comfortable losing money on as one may expect out of an alternative investment such as this.

With that reduced risk for appetite in mind, I began to acquire inventory to resell. At first, it was single raw cards I was able to find on eBay that fell well below the 7-day average or “market price” as dictated by eBay comps. It then stretched to modest-sized binders and collections. Lastly, I got comfortable identifying undervalued, authentic sealed vintage WOTC products and flipped those, too.

sample tracking sheet for pokemon card flipping side hustle
A look at the primitive tracking sheet I used early on to track P/L on flipped cards. Ben Huber | DollarSprout

My initial results were promising. I had managed to turn about $4,000 in flipping profit over the first 40 or so transactions over a two-week period. This initial success only fueled my curiosity to see if I could scale things higher.

What’s not to love about potentially marrying a fun hobby with a realistic way to make meaningful side hustle income

But, as with any complex business system, I quickly found out that my primitive method for tracking inventory, and their ensuing sale, grossly fell short of the level of organization needed to flip dozens or even hundreds of cards — often duplicates — at the same time. 

Soon, every card or pack that I acquired was assigned a specific stock number. That way when it got listed across several platforms, there was no confusion as to which duplicate card a customer was seeing (in the photos) or worse, the card they were getting (an accidental mixup of two similar-looking cards).

The ruthless level of detail was absolutely necessary to nix chaos and ensure prospective buyers were getting exactly what they intended to receive. 

My Results So Far

Treating the entire operation as almost a business from the get-go, despite the aura of nostalgia that got me back in it, helped me stay in the black where others might have struggled.

vtgrad2010's ebay pokemon sales figuresWhile I had a good bit of success early on flipping cards in the $10-$30 range to get my feet wet in a relatively responsible manner, I grew weary of the logistics of packaging and shipping dozens of cards per week to lock in a modest profit.

I quickly turned to flipping what I would define as mid-range cards (personal opinion) in the $100-$500 range.

This allowed me to reclaim a portion of my sanity, recoup/save on supplies and packaging costs, and reduce the amount of time spent getting the cards out of my possession once I acquired them.

Over the last six months, my numbers look roughly as follows: 

  • $103,789.23 in gross spending (include cards, packs, shipping, fees, etc.)
  • $112,172.46 in revenue across all platforms 
  • ~$21,000 in raw card/pack inventory (based on current market value)
  • ~400 cards at third-party grading services with a declared value of approximately $50,000 (based on current market value and their anticipated grades) 

What blows my mind about this entire process is that there are sellers that dwarf these numbers in terms of sales and sophistication of operation.

I would speculate there are some dealer-sellers easily clearing multiple six-figures per month selling high-end “slabs” (graded cards) or collections given the current climate. 

mercari sales dashboard

All in all, I’m happy to have turned a very good profit over the past six months with a high-revenue ceiling yet to be realized as I continue to sell the inventory I’ve acquired.

With a high AOV (average order value) and a robust historical profit/item, I anticipate crawling closer to $200,000 in total revenue over the next three months. 

Note: One of the premier third-party card grading companies (PSA) recently suspended the majority of their grading services due to the overwhelming submission of cards they received during the pandemic months. The consequence of this is that other grading services will likely follow suit as their ability to service the industry is completely overwhelmed. As such, I’ve slid further into flipping raw singles (cards) until turnaround times have improved at the major grading services. 

For anyone curious, my biggest “hit” was a raw 1st Edition Sabrina’s Gengar I bought for $300 on eBay. I happened to have an order going to PSA that I snuck it in on and it came back a PSA 10 (GEM MINT). I sold it shortly after and netted $6,000.

(It was such a low population card I probably should have held onto it and now I’m kicking myself for selling this particular one. 👻)

example ebay auction for pokemon card
Single graded cards can net several thousand dollars on the open market. Ben Huber | DollarSprout

Tips for the Buying Side

Ah, yes, the fun stuff. Whether you’re an avid collector just looking to score a good deal, or you too are interested in trying your hand a flipping a few undervalued cards, my hope is you’ll pick up a tip or two from what I’ve learned along the way. 

1. Look for deals during off-hours. 

I’m located on the East Coast of the United States. Coincidentally, several studies have shown that eBay activity, or internet traffic in general, is highest during primetime — or between 8-11 PM EST.[1]

That’s when the highest number of people have free time to scour the web with the intent of making a purchase. It’s also the time you’re most likely to compete with other bidders/buyers for a potential card you’re interested in. Great for sellers, bad for getting the best price on a card.

A Tyhplosion holo I snagged during an off-hour deal
I snagged this near mint 1st Edition Typhlosion Holo at 0300 EST and flipped it shortly thereafter for nearly twice the price. Ben Huber | DollarSprout

I have a newborn and so, as luck would have it, I was often awake at super-off hours stateside. This often led to me stumbling/saving eBay auctions that ended at obscure hours, and with fewer competing eyes.

At least 50% of the acquisitions I make are between twelve-midnight and twelve-noon the following day. There are simply fewer people to compete with. 

2. Set an all-in price for a card and never go over it. 

Take any emotional attachment you have to a card — assuming you’re interested in flipping for profit and not keeping it for your personal collection — and toss it out the window. Learn the value of cards you’re interested in, set a max price in your head, and never exceed it. Ever.

It’s like a stop-loss when trading stocks. You can’t lose more than what you pre-determined was an acceptable exit point. This will give you breathing room when you go to sell. 

3. Set search filters wide on whatever platform you search on. 

Unless you’re specifically dabbling in very high-end cards — let’s say $1,000+ — you’ll likely need to acquire dozens of cards at a lower price point to generate meaningful income.

Perhaps the best way I’ve found deals on any platform is to capitalize on poorly “Titled” or “described” cards.

example of an ebay listing for pokemon cards with a poor title
Here’s an example of a poorly titled (and photographed) listing that made for a profitable quick flip. Ben Huber | DollarSprout

In the example above, the listing seller took a photo of a single card that, in actuality, represented a lot of fairly lucrative cards. This particular single card is a somewhat common, easily skipped-over item, which resulted in me winning the auction for a fraction of its market value. 

By searching categorically (either literally through categories on platforms and/or by using generic search terms like “1st Edition Pokemon”, I’m able to find listings with horrible typos, scant details, and/or otherwise genuine/authentic cards that are getting far less attention than they should.

Again, this inevitably leads to fewer competing eyes for often high-value lots that just get drowned out by thousands of other listings. 

4. Find your cash cow. 

Simply put, some cards will present better prospective opportunities because of their liquidity/popularity. Cards with high-volume sales often compete with one another for search visibility on auction sites. That leads to a few cards slipping through the cracks that sell for way below what the market generally says they’re worth.

By using saved search filters, I’ll add hundreds, sometimes thousands of listings to my watchlists across several platforms and snipe auctions that are clearly underperforming. 

5. Be active. 

To diversify risk and actually acquire a decent amount of undervalued product, it’s important to be active throughout the day. Many of the items I found were newly listed items that had “buy-it-now” or “make an offer” features available.

Frequently, casual sellers will grossly underprice the cost of goods, or they’re a motivated seller who intentionally lists at a lower price to get cash quickly. Dozens of times per day, this exact phenomenon occurs and it’s simply a race for who can spot them first. 

6. Be extremely careful. 

I will scream this one to the high heavens. If you’re impatient and/or not technologically savvy/familiar with common online [payment] scams, do. not. buy. or. flip. cards.

Every platform has some level of buyer protection. Every payment processor has some form of buyer protection. Know them intimately. If you find yourself tempted to skirt the systems that are designed to keep you safe for convenience or to save on fees, you will get burned. Promise. 

do not use cash sending apps to buy cards online
Cash sending services such as PayPal Friends and Family, Venmo, and CashApp are frequently used by scammers with convincing stories to lure in prospective buyers. Ben Huber | DollarSprout

Every veteran card collector/flipper there is will scold you and not bat an eye of sympathy when you get burned. 

7. Source your cards from a variety of places. 

eBay may be the most familiar to many, but it’s definitely not the cheapest place to find cards to flip. In-person sales, classifieds, estate sales, Facebook marketplace, niche Facebook groups — almost all of them present a better way to find items to flip so long as you adhere to the principles learned in #6 (be careful!). 

8. Buy in “bulk.”

Generally speaking, you’ll almost always get a better per-card price when you scour listings for more than one card. It’s easy to see why. Simply put, it’s easy for collectors/lay buyers to accurately price a single card given the sources mentioned earlier (TCGplayer, eBay, PSA, etc.).

It’s much harder and much more work to accurately price a small or even huge collection of cards. Alas, where there is hard work, there is money to be made. Fewer people are willing to put in the minutes or hours it takes to price a collection. You can score huge deals on bigger lots once you feel comfortable in what you’re looking at.

Even small lots of 2-3 cards can come in steep discounts.

9. Learn to spot fake cards and packs. 

If you can’t accurately spot fake cards not in person, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get burned here, too. 

Unfortunately, a byproduct of pandemic reemergence is the similar rise in fake product designed to cash in. Advances in technology have made identifying fakes harder than ever before, but the heavy scrutiny of cards by an experienced collector can still catch nearly all instances. 

10. Be a repeat buyer. 

And on that note, be easy to work with and pay promptly. I have several sellers that will actually reach out to me to see if I am interested in inventory before they go through the hassle of photographing things and listing them on platforms. Similar to developing a reputation as a trusted seller, look for ways to become a go-to buyer. 

11. If it doesn’t have excellent pictures, don’t buy it. 

The trap that literally everyone (including myself) falls into. Buying single cards on the internet is a dangerous proposition, especially if you’re buying them with the intent of getting them graded to sell at an even higher price. 

Your eyes will fool you. Sellers will intentionally (or unintentionally) fool you. Whatever condition you think a card is coming in, odds are it’s coming in one tier worse than your most optimistic expectation. Sellers know if they showcase/highlight every flaw on a card, they’ll lose value because who wants to pay for damaged goods? (More on how this may actually be wrong below.)

Instead, they’ll intentionally obfuscate the true condition of the card by using poor lighting, reflections, poor angles, etc. Anything they can do to hide flaws (this is the very cynical side of things). On the other hand, you have generally well-meaning but naive sellers who are just offloading their childhood collection who don’t mean to take poor pictures/hide things. It just happens. 

Simply put, if there aren’t half a dozen or more pictures showcasing every possible angle, and/or at least a few stupidly high definition photos of the front and back, do not buy the card.

Tips for the Selling Side

Once you’ve spotted and purchased a few good cards, here are some tips for flipping them for the highest profit.

1. Have your listings end at opportune times. 

Remember how we said buy at off-hours? The opposite is true for selling.

Third-party research gives us a pretty good idea of the days and times of the week where there is the highest activity (and highest sale value) for items sold on major platforms like eBay. Don’t make the mistake of having your listing end at obscure times. No one will see it and you won’t get close to the max value for it. 

2. Take (lots of) high-quality photos. 

Remember how I said people are afraid to take pictures because they highlight flaws?

high quality images will help increase sales value
An experienced eBay seller pulls in twice what a graded PSA 9 Shining Charizard is worth by using high-quality photos. Ben Huber | DollarSprout

On the flip side, numerous high-quality pictures can massively grow a prospective buyer’s trust.

Perhaps one of the best flippers I know takes obscenely good photos of his high-value raw singles.

He will literally highlight the flaws of the cards in neon colors, snapping nearly a dozen different angles showing the entire surface area of the card.

And you know what?

His mint condition raw/ungraded cards regularly fetch prices 30-40% higher than their graded PSA 9 equivalent would fetch.

3. Learn search optimization.

This brings me to my absolute favorite part about being a flipper. The strategy behind the perfect listing. As a marketing specialist for this blog, it’s my job to get readers to our content. Similarly, it’s my job to get relevant (not necessarily the most) eyeballs on my card listings. This is where search optimization comes into play.

  • Learn about keyword optimization for the specific platform you’re selling on (here are eBay’s SEO suggestions).
  • Learn what makes a good thumbnail/feature photo that maximizes CTR (click-through rate).
  • Figure out what gets people to save/watchlist/engage with your listing (hello, algorithm boost).

Like I said earlier, poorly optimized listings are where I find the bulk of my good deals. Don’t be the person who gets half-value for otherwise great cards.

4. Cross-sell on several platforms.

If you’ve got the time, look into listing your inventory on several of the best places to sell Pokemon cards. This allows you to establish a seller reputation in several different areas and exposes you to new pools of prospective buyers.

Just be careful. Check in frequently when items sell to ensure you’ve de-activated those listings on other platforms if necessary.

leverage multiple selling platforms to find your intended audience
Selling on several different platforms may help you reach untouched or more lucrative audiences. Ben Huber | DollarSprout

Better yet, if you have potential buyers in two places, you can “leverage” them against one another by disclosing you have multiple interested parties. Like buying a house, one may put in a better offer above your asking price because that’s what the card is worth to them. 

5. Become familiar with promotional methods. 

Platforms like Mercari and eBay have robust seller tools for getting extra exposure on your listings, often for a very reasonable cut. If you’re flipping cards, it may be of interest to offload quickly as market conditions are changing.

Sometimes it’s better to take less profit than holding and taking a loss, especially if you have cash flow concerns. Furthermore, Mercari even has free promotional options that enhance exposure without them getting a hand on the final sale price. Take advantage of any option you can find that gets your listings in front of more relevant buyers. 

6. Lock in profits. 

Like buying, holding, and selling a stock, if your aim is to generate profit, then you need to consistently take money off the table when you have it locked in. In a momentum-based market, it’s important to cash in on your medium-speculative purchases that don’t have a high ceiling. This is basically true of all raw cards outside of a select few, 1st Edition Base Set cards.

If you hold out in hopes of selling a raw card at a higher price down the road, you may end up taking a heavy loss if it doesn’t possess the rarity to continually appreciate in value. 

7. Buy in “bulk”.

Not cards this time — shipping supplies. Soft sleeves, toploaders, Card Saver 1s, bubble wrap, peanuts, cardboard, doesn’t matter. This junk is expensive if you buy it in small portions. If you’re making a serious time investment in the hobby as a flipper, make a small monetary investment in bulk supplies that will save you loads and pad your margins down the road. 

8. Avoid fees and simplify your listings. 

eBay is great for determining and getting the market value for your cards. But, sometimes you can get above market value when you sell in-person or in niche Facebook groups. While eBay is a great platform, there are still areas rife with fraud. Some collectors will only purchase and sell in niche groups and will pay an added premium to stay off the bigger platforms.

Better yet, when you sell on those platforms, you can leverage tools like PayPal Goods & Services, whose 3% fees are a far cry from eBay’s brutal ~14% (as of 04/21) managed payments fee in the TCG category. 

And on that note, try to avoid the listing upsells if you’re selling dozens of cards. Those fees will crush your bottom line and I’d reserve using those for cards that have at least $500 in value. (Personally, I’d only use them if they had $2,000 or more in value.)

Where to Go from Here

I should probably clarify that I am by no means an expert. Perhaps an above-average informed enthusiast, at best. My biggest piece of advice is to guard yourself against overvaluing your cards and/or overvaluing a card you’re interested in purchasing. This is seemingly rampant in the industry, and it doesn’t factor in well to your bottom line when you try to flip cards that people don’t value the same way you do — especially when those people are professional card graders. 

Fortunately, I found a money-making gig that not only helps pay the bills, it also extinguishes the urge to constantly rip open expensive packs with no way to recoup my entire [soon-to-be lost] paycheck. And at the end of the day, I’ve still got a bunch of inventory to sell, so stay tuned to see where it goes from here. 

If this is the first story you’ve read about Pokemon’s pandemic boom, I urge you to hop over to YouTube and dwell on the likes of Leonhart (1.4 million subscribers) and PokeRev (over 300k) as they serenade you with memories of the Pokemon glory days. From daily pack openings, card gradings, and general goofing off, I thank them for hours of cool content over the past 6 months I got to enjoy while locked up at home. 

What about you? Have you bought or sold Pokemon cards with some level of success? Let us know what other tips you have for snagging deals or getting the most out of your cards (when selling them) in the comments below.

Ben Huber

Hi! I'm Ben. A personal finance nerd on a mission to help DollarSprout readers make and save more money. A quoted contributor for Business Insider, Business.com, Discover, Intuit, MSN, NBC News, Yahoo Finance and more, I work to help others live their financial best life.


Very informative.

Thank you.

You’re welcome, Cheryl.

Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

Daniel Wilson
Daniel Wilson

Ben, very interested in connecting with you on a Pokémon venture. My daughter recently showed interest in the world of Pokémon which got me curious about applying my knowledge of lean six sigma systems after I read this article. Love to see what DMAIC can do for what you’ve already built.

Lacie Roussel
Lacie Roussel

Hi Ben,
I would love to chat with you to learn more about Pokemon. My three boys have recently fallen in love with pokemon and well let’s just say I have too (maybe more than them). I would definitely like to learn more. Hope to hear back from you.


$8,000 profit for six months of hard work is just depressing mate. That’s time you could’ve spent with family and friends, and enjoying life. Unless you prefer jumping around on sales platforms and treadmilling for no real reason I just don’t get it.

For what it’s worth, I had over $70,000 in inventory at the time of writing that (I closed the year with nearly $40,000 in profit with an additional $40,000 in inventory, still).

Additionally, this is a side hustle, not a life-consuming gig. I have no problem balancing full-time work, my side hustle, and my family and friends. 🙂

Just for fun (and a little extra spending cash)!

Colby Shaw
Colby Shaw

Ben, great article. I appreciated reading it as I venture into collecting for profit. How have you done during the down turn from the spikes? Do you think the 1999-2002 cards will increase in value over the long term?

Hey Colby!

Things have definitely cooled off, but I was able to adapt and still churn a good profit during 2021 (about $40,000 if I recall correctly from my tax return). I’ll try and write a sister article to this one to update my results and share some new lessons + how exactly I did adapt.

I think 2021 was enlightening in a lot of ways — especially in relation to high pop, low-value slabs (across both sports and Pokemon). There just wasn’t a market to absorb the junk wax/slabs that got pushed to market in the past 12 months. It’s likely we’ll see that trend continue as the backlog clears out over the next 12-18 months.

That said, there are some signs that the market for sealed vintage (and likely low pop singles) are starting to recover. If you look at this eBay listing (https://www.ebay.com/itm/224911359526), user super_josee shares some accumulated sales data on WOTC booster boxes. As you can see from the graphs in the photos, we likely touched bottom for vintage sealed for the current market cycle, and I suspect we’ll see prices tik back up as more traditional laws of supply and demand take over (vs. news-based/momentum type trading).

Obviously many nostalgia/fad-based collectors will exit the market, but I suspect the overall market value for sealed vintage to start incrementally climbing higher once again. Likely the same for low pop vintage slabs/raw cards where pop increases are unlikely to scale relative to market demand.


Hi man, great article, very clear and concise. You definitely strike me as an excel spreadsheet kind of guy like myself, haha.

I have a similar business and I also started in late 2021. I’m full time now, although I think my model is a bit different to yours (it’s pretty impressive to see a store with only 127 eBay sales equating to $70,000!) Now I get why you use multiple platforms; as for me that would just be a headache with 2000+ cards in inventory.

Have you stopped selling cards now, and if so, how come?

Thank you, much appreciated.

And nope! Still sell. With three young ones in the house its hard to find the time, but I try and condense all my buying and selling to the morning and evening hours if possible.

It’s still just a side hustle for me, but it remains pretty lucrative. (I netted ~$15K in profit in 2023.) Not an eye-popping figure, but definitely helps around the house. A good portion of it goes towards purchasing inventory, but my PC has grown quite a bit as well (snagged a sealed Base Set and 1st Edition Jungle box this year).


Have you ever sold to someone in Japan? How does that work with taxes and duties? Especially when the package should be insured. Any help with this would be very helpful. Thank you.

Hey Mary!

I have sold to just about every country in the world at some point or another, so long as it is not currently sanctioned by government figures. Ebay’s Global Shipping Program takes care of everything automatically — all you have to do is ship to their international shipping center and they’ll take care of collecting taxes, duties, VAT, and anything else that needs to be collected. Easy peasy!

– Ben


Great article! I’ve been selling for a little under a year now, basically just extras and cards I did not want to keep in my personal collection. I am currently using excel to track my sales. Do you have a database suggestion that is better/less time consuming for tracking card inventory?

That’s tough. I don’t know of one personally and can imagine that anything more detailed than Excel would actually be more time-consuming (purely because entering even more details would require intricate fields/drop-down boxes that take even more time to leverage).

(I’ve yet to find anything better in the last year or so even since I wrote this article, so if it exists, and you find it, let me know, hah).

Thanks for reading!



Youtubers and streamers only focused on PSA grading and pricing have ruined all the TCGs IMO.

Craig B.
Craig B.

Hello Mr. Ben,

I found your article very informative and a great read. I’d like to get your opinion on the grading services (PSA, BGS, CGC, SGC, etc.) that are out there right now and they compare when it comes to getting the best monetary return. I’ve done my due diligence and much like everyone else, have found that PSA is the way to go.

However, they seem to have become overpriced and are lacking in what should be a better grade than offered. I’ve been finding BGS to be very good so far, but finding a lot more other grading services getting a better turnaround on profits much like PSA, but without the overpricing for cards. Bottom line, is there an article that I can read here in regard to trading card grading services? While I know that everyone has a preference would be greatly appreciated to get others’ input.

Hey Craig!

As you alluded, grading cards, at least for the foreseeable future, is likely to add a premium over raw for virtually any modern or vintage card. (It may not always be this way, but will it take the market shifting dramatically for that to change).

And like you also alluded, the 4 companies that you named by and large garner the highest premium over, say, some of the smaller, less established companies. While there will always be anomalies, generally speaking, PSA will hold the highest resale value on the market. This is followed by CGC and BGS with very similar values, followed by SGC (at least for Pokemon, not sports).

If you’re going to be a volume submitter, PSA is probably going to be the way to go — the $100 membership fee + tiers between $15 (with specials) to $40 for the bulk stuff are going to be hard to beat. PSA can just get more volume done than any other company, for a reasonable (even if it is slightly higher) price and the highest resale value.

If you anticipate being a low-volume submitter, go with the case that you like best.

My personal criteria are a bit nuanced, but where the pricing has become similar across the board, you can go wrong with just about any of them.

If I feel a card has a shot at a BGS 10/BL 10, I’ll go BGS.
If I feel it won’t get either, I’ll go PSA as it’s a little easier to hit one.
If I feel PSA will give a card a 9, but BGS may give it a 9.5, I’ll send it there.
If I feel a card will grade 8-9, I’ll go PSA.
Anything lower and I go BGS because they’re generally easier on the mid-tier condition cards.
I’ll occasionally go CGC for the above category if they have some sort of good special.

I don’t have a post written on the site for this in particular, these are just my two cents,

Craig B.
Craig B.

Thank you for your input and insight Mr. Ben!

Craig B.
Craig B.

I’m curious on your perspective/take on the auction site PWCC Marketplace? I know that eBay is king in this department, but with PWCC doing their own thing now and with the news that has come about. I’m interested on your thoughts?

The buyer’s premium + shipping fees can be a bit steep, but where their auctions get fewer impressions than other enormous markets (like eBay), there is a good opportunity to snag deals from time to time.

They’re very established, so no sweating that — like trading stocks, set a stop loss (or in this case, upper limit) for what price you want to buy at and don’t go over it. I’ll favorite dozens of items in each of their weekly auctions, and will generally snag a few underpriced items and miss out on some others. Sometimes I’ll keep an item for my personal collection, others I’ll just flip the item on eBay/Facebook groups to lock in a profit.

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