Sorry, I'm having Indian food tonight :/
On any given day, one can visit a sports card trading message board (and I'd be willing to bet this occurs on all manner of collecting-based hobby forums, as well), someone is bemoaning the lack of an alternative to eBay. Oh, feebay, why doest thou taxeth us so, stealing the very nickels and dimes upon which we hoped to build our dreams? There's so much shill bidding! There is no seller protection from scammers! Why, oh, why can't there be any where else we can go?
But....there is! There always has been. eBay has never been a monopoly. The only reason eBay is the significant force in sports cards (through no real effort of their own) is because that's where the most traffic goes. It's very similar to the complaints about the supposed "two party system" in American politics. People complain that the reason nothing gets done is that both the two parties are only out for their own interest. Yet, those very same people ridicule any attempt to change the system by declaring any vote for a non-Republican or non-Democrat as a wasted vote! So just like in politics, the only way to change the situation of eBay's supposed dominance in the hobby is to stop feeding the problem and go somewhere else.
To that end, I present this lovely addition to my Dave Winfield collection. This card, I've patiently been hunting for about the past 5 years, yet every time it surfaced on eBay, either the seller was charging $3+ for shipping (before all the postage hikes, that was more annoying than it is today) or I would consistently be outbid by someone who felt the card was worth more than the $6 (total) I was willing to drop. Yes, I'm cheap. I'm not a slave to Beckett values, and set very strict limits to what I'm willing to pay for a simple game-used or autographed baseball card.
2001 Topps Archives Reserve Bat #AAR25
(remember those holograms with numbers for the non-existent database where you could supposedly look up where the piece of wood originated?)
I picked this up from a seller on Webstore for $5.98 shipped, so just a hair under my limit. I'd never used Webstore before, but browsing around, it reminded me a lot of eCrater or etsy, basically a storefront system where you can set up your own corner of the community to sell pretty much whatever non-illegal merchandise you choose. The seller had (0) feedback and had only been on Webstore for about 4 months, but had this card listed for a flat Buy Now price of $2.99 + $2.99 shipping. The card arrived fairly quickly given it had to deal with two holidays between time of purchase and time of arrival, and I am very pleased with my purchase. That seller now has a perfect feedback score of (1).
In the past, I have successfully added cards to my collection from a variety of non-eBay sites and am always looking for more options when the main sites just keep recycling the same sellers and cards. Below is a quick breakdown of several places I peruse in my hunt and recent results for a quick "Dave Winfield" search (in no particular order). For sites where there is an inventory system with built-in checklists (basically just Sportlots and COMC) I list the quantity of different cards, rather than total including duplicates for the same of expediency.
I have actually purchased items from Sportlots, onlineauction.com, COMC, eCrater, BidStart and the aforementioned Webstore. I'm actively selling (active being a relative thing) at eCrater, COMC, Sportlots and BuyMyCards.net. Give some of these sites a try. But be smart about it and start with something small and see how the experience goes. And remember, one bad experience with one seller or buyer does not mean the site is not worthwhile. If that were true, eBay would have been abandoned years ago. The only way other sites will ever become major outlets or alternatives to eBay is if people actively buy and sell there.
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