Wednesday, October 21, 2015

COMC Walkthroughs - Selling Strategies - Buying cheap, unique stuff (With some tricks to speed up the process)

So I've probably sold like a zillion different ways on COMC by now, always trying something different to see what works.  Even when one thing worked, I was always trying 3-4 things in the background to see what else might work.  So I figured this series might be a good place to show off some of those ideas I've had.

Now today's idea is simple - buy cheap stuff, unique to the site, and sell it for more.  Common sense right?  Well you'd think...but for most people it takes a lot of time to find those kinds of cards and the actual time spent vs. money earned ratio ends up too low to make it worth it.  I've found some tricks over my COMC time that speed up the process considerably, and while that ratio is still probably too low for most, it works for me and it definitely gets me some nice sales.  So here, let me show you how I do it!

Part 1: Sort your cards differently:
The default view on COMC when you're sorting through cards is typically Highest SRP, 12 listings at a time, and details (i.e. full scans of cards).  This is great when you're actually shopping, but when you're trying to flip cards it slows the process slightly due to fewer items at a time and scans taking longer to load than simple text.  So when I'm flipping by buying cheap, I change my options at the top.

First, I change Highest SRP to "Lowest Asking Price" in the dropdown menu:

Then I change details to "List view" and listings to "100":

With those three switches, I now get a big ol' list of cards that is easy to scan all at once.  It looks like the one below, and the two pieces I really look at are price and quantity:

Part 2: Paying attention to Quantity and Price in the List View and using COMC's listing formula to your advantage
Quantity is most important to me - it tells you how many of a given card exist on the site.  If there's 100+, that's not a good buy for this strategy.  You want as few as possible, with one being the ideal.

Price is important as well though, and it's mainly because of the way COMC lists these cards in price order - this can lead to some REALLY good buys.  You'll notice little breaks between prices in your lists - for instance here's the break between the end of the 7 cent cards and the beginning of the 8 cent cards:

The Magic card at 8 cents is the card with the lowest price, for sure, but it is also the card whose highest price/SRP is lowest for an 8 cent card.  Here's a little table I made of those first few 8 cent-ers to show this:

Description             Quantity            Lowest Price           Highest Price
Magic Swamp             39                     8 cents                      25 cents
Terry Glenn                 2                      8 cents                      30 cents
Mark Brunell               3                      8 cents                      30 cents

I haven't heard confirmation anywhere that COMC sorts that way, but when you look through the cards there's a discernible pattern of cards having higher and higher prices for their highest price card within a card with it dropping again as SRP rises.  And if you know those patterns, you can find yourself some sweet deals even if a card has multiple copies.

That all reads kind of confusingly, so let me show you an example of how it works with the D.J. Harper 7 cent card from the list above.  It has a lot of copies, so I don't think it'll be a good card to buy, but it should illustrate my SRP/Highest Priced card point I was making.

Here's the first few cards from the Harper listing:

As I figured, it's not a good flip value.  I mean, I could reprice the card at more than 50% of its value, but with such a low profile player and such a low price point, I wouldn't be interested.  However, we see wy the Harper is the last 7 cent card listed when we look at the most expensive versions of that card listed on COMC:

The card is grouped with a number of other 7 cent cards where affordablecards (lol) is charing $25 for his version, and that's why these cards are at the end of the 7 cent listings.  And knowing that is how we make our first trick work.

Part 3,  Strategy 1: Buying cards near the end of a specific price using this trick
The whole idea of this one trick is finding underpriced cards relative to their on-site brethren, which anyone can do (and many do do) - my trick just makes this a much faster process.  With D.J. Harper, the 2nd card in lot was only 19 cents, so it wasn't worth buying that card.  But that's because we only looked at price, and not quantity.  The ideal for this trick is to find cards between halfway and the end of a price level with lower quantity.  I typically look for less than 10 for quantity, with the lower obviously the better.

Here's one example.  I dug through some of the 8 cent cards and found a Dhani Jones about 2/3's of the way through the listings.  8 cents, quantity 2.  Based on where it is in the listings, my thinking is that the 2nd card is going to be priced considerably higher than the 8 cent card - my hope is somewhere in the 60-80 cent range based on the cards place in the listings:

I click on the card, and sure enough that 2nd card is $0.65 - more than 8 times the price of the lowest priced card:
For me, that's an easy buy.  I try to get cards in the 5-10 cent range and bump them up to the 50-75 cent range.  It's small profits, but they add up over time.  And they'll still under the 75 cent storage threshold so I don't have to pay a penny for storage every month on these cards.

I've used this to find much bigger upgrades than that though.  One of my biggest sales lately was a serial numbered card I found where the cheapest was 10 cents and the next highest priced card was $3.50.  I bought the 10 cent card, bumped the price up to $3.45, and sold it a few weeks later.  It doesn't always happen that easily but when it does it feels great!

Some tweaks that speed up how fast these flips sell - try doing this within a specific player (like Ken Griffey Jr. or Bryce Harper), or looking for specific special qualities (2015 as a year, Chrome as a set, serial numbering).  Quantity and Price are king, but Description is obviously your friend too and can help keep your flips more within what's "hot" or popular if you don't want to wait as long as I do for random cards to sell.

Part 4, Strategy 2: Buying cards unique to the site
This strategy is the even easier one, but there's so little of these cards at a given time at the real low price points so you have to search fairly regularly to make it work for you.  The one nice thing with price points working the way they do is that, by and large*, you can just check the 7 cent cards, then flip 20 or so pages to the beginning of the 8 cent cards, and so on, until you've checked them all.  It only takes a few minutes and it gets you a bunch of cards that are 1/1 on the site, which means you can set your own market to a degree.

Here's one example.  I reached the end of the 8 cent cards and notice that the top card listed for 9 cent cards has a quantity of 1:

This is an easy buy...I will grab this every time:
As I posted in the little capture in my image, buying this card allows me to set the price wherever I want since COMC buyers only have this one copy to choose from.  Many times I just go straight to 75 cents, but sometimes I go higher or lower depending on what I feel about that card.  The best is when oddballs get priced low and are 1/1 on the site - I've turned 10-20 cent movie cards into $3.50 profits this way.  So you never know what you'll find - and again your buy-in is so low that even 75 cents (or 50% off 75 cents) is good profit on these cards.

So this ends another edition of COMC Walkthroughs - a lot of the steps were a little convoluted this week, so if you have any questions feel free to share them in the comments.  Otherwise, see you next time!

* I say "by and large" because there are two caveats.  Caveat 1 is that sale cards count their asking price as SRP.  So a 50 cent card at 10 cents because of a sale will still sort with the 50 cent SRP cards - so you won't see it as one of the first cards in your list but more likely like 30th or 40th in the list.

Caveat 2 is the COMC has a 100 page limit restriction.  That seems like a lot with 100 cards per list (so 10,000 cards total!) but there are a lot of low priced cards, so you may only get to 12 or 13 cents before you reach the limit.  To get around this I often search within modifiers, like all 2015 cards, or all baseball cards, or something like that.  This way your search gets a little more stretch into the later teens or early 20 centers.


  1. Just to make sure at least someone's saying it, thanks for making these guides! Now that I have enough stuff listed I'll probably try to play around with some of your strategies and see if I can make a little spending credit for myself.

  2. Another great post! Thanks for these tips. I've never sold on COMC, but maybe someday.