That was my ROI on 16 cases of 2018 Topps Baseball products.
I started 2018 with a goal of buying two cases of eight different Topps products with the intent of walking away with a profit at the end of the year. You can read about it here. How did it go? Well, it was interesting to say the least.
Many people say if you want to lose money in this hobby then buy sealed wax. I feel this statement would be more accurate with a slight modification. If you want to lose money in this hobby then buy sealed wax at full release day prices. I was, and still am, a believer that you can make money with sealed wax if you are disciplined and leverage the benefits of lower prices by preordering well in advance of release date.
The Bottom Line
As of this post, my total realized return on the Two Case Plan is 32%. That will only go up from here. I still have a good amount of sets, base, inserts, and hits available for sale on EBay, COMC, and Sportlots.
There was a ton of hype for 2018 products, and this led to massively inflated release day prices on most of them. I used the discounted pre-order prices to my advantage on almost every one of these products to quickly flip some of the boxes/cases to either lock in some profit or reduce my break even point on the stuff I wanted to open. That margin between pre-order and release price was the biggest contributor to my overall profit.
The second thing I did was take the time to sort and build sets. With Topps flagship releases, a good portion of the profit potential comes from the base and inserts. Sets sell well, and demand for inserts is strong for months after release. I built as many sets as I could, and then all the remaining base and inserts were listed on Sportlots.
All that sorting and listing takes time, a lot of it. However, there is a return to that investment of time that many people balk at. It doesn’t surprise me that some have a challenging time returning value when they open a case, sell the hits, and dump all the base and inserts because they “aren’t worth their time”. I will continue to take advantage of those situations, and I recommend you do to!
It was a profitable year, but it wasn’t without its challenges. First of all there were a few products (Heritage, Bowman, Heritage Minors, and Bowman Draft) in which I didn’t get both cases I had preordered due to allocations and I had to be refunded for my second case. That was super frustrating.
The other challenge was time. While putting in the time to do all the sorting and listing I described paid off, I wasn’t as profitable as I could have been because other personal and family obligations sometimes meant I had to wait days or weeks to get all the cards processed. That meant some selling prices had already dropped significantly by the time I had mine up for sale. A case or two of cards takes a long time to go through so if you don’t have the flexibility in your schedule to dedicate to it, this may not be an approach you should attempt.
So what does that mean for 2019?
Well I won’t be doing the two case plan for 2019. I have some preorders on the books already, but I’m planning to scale it back a bit this year. Over the second half of 2018, cases of most products were available at very reasonable prices. In fact, a few of them can be purchased for less than my preorder price. I think we are likely to see the same situation in 2019, and therefore I’m going to spend more time focusing on buying collections, older sealed cases on discount, and my current favorite, the Topps Living Set! I had success last year with the two case plan, but now I want to experiment with something different.
How will it go? Who knows! Time will tell, but hey, we’re talking about collecting cards here. No matter what it’s going to be fun!