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Starting a Baseball Card Collection- Where to Find Baseball Cards

by Eric Brantner (06/26/08).

In my first post about how to start a baseball card collection, I discussed the importance of budgeting and determining a focal point for your new collection. With the groundwork for starting your collection now in place, I would like to move ahead to explaining how to find baseball cards in your hometown.

As I mentioned in part one of this series, the majority of my collection was amassed at local flea markets and antique villages. These flea markets are a great source for card collectors because there are hundreds of vendors, so the selection is quite broad. One vendor may have newer cards, and another might have some older, hidden gems. Admittedly, shopping at a flea market for baseball cards takes a lot of patience because there is no way of knowing what you will find on a particular weekend. However, finding a rare baseball card at a cheap price makes this tedious process well worth the time.

The other benefit of shopping for baseball cards at a flea market is that, unlike retail establishments, prices are not fixed. Sure, the dealer will have an asking price, but that number is always negotiable. If you have the patience to negotiate, you can save a lot of money. Personally, I was fortunate to have my parents on hand to help with the negotiation process. As a shy child, let’s just say my social and bargaining skills left something to be desired. Thanks to them, I was able to get several rookie cards of my favorite players at the time (Tony Gwynn, Mark McGwire, Ozzie Smith, and Nolan Ryan.)Now, I don’t mean to say that parents should coddle their children and do all the work for them, but what my parents did helped me learn how to negotiate so that I could do it on my own later on.

Most of the vendors at flea markets are there because they want to clear out their garage or they need to make some extra money. In fact, most of them are parents selling off their children’s cards because the child lost interest in their collection. Typically, they have no idea how much the cards are really worth. I remember one time I was able to purchase an entire box with at least 250 cards in it for just 10 dollars.

With that in mind, these vendors will usually accept your offer if it is reasonable. As I mentioned in my last post, it is good to have a pricing guide or an online source that can help you identify the value of a card because you want to make sure you are getting a good value. The Worthopedia guide is an online guide that contains pricing information on millions of baseball cards and other collectibles, and it is a valuable resource when you are thinking about buying a new card.

 As a matter of fact, here is what I found in the Worthopedia about the Nolan Ryan rookie card that my parents got at a bargain for me. This is definitely a card I will continue to hold on to.

If you do not have a flea market in your area, do not fear because I can help. Odds are you have a baseball card shop in your town. Sometimes they are hard to find, but thanks to Cardshopfinder.com you can locate the closest shop in your area. They have thousands of listings that cover all 50 states, and if there is a shop in your town, they can tell you about it.

The biggest advantage of visiting a baseball card shop is that you will be more likely to come in contact with mint baseball cards. At flea markets you cannot always be guaranteed this luxury. Owners of baseball card shops only deal with items that are in the best of shape. You don’t have to worry about finding any cards with bent corners here.

Therefore, if you are collecting cards for investment purposes, you will probably want to visit a baseball card shop to ensure that your cards will be in better condition and worth more money down the road. Cards that aren’t in mint or near mint condition usually aren’t worth more than the cardboard they are printed on.

 In the next part of this series on how to start a baseball card collection, I will discuss how to identify and store mint baseball cards.

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