By Christopher J. Ahlman aka Requiemx

Nothing could have ever changed the face of the trading card industry and the way that consumers view and take part in it like eBay did.

The way that I purchase, appraise and transact my cardboard in many instances, leads back to eBay in some way.

Prior to eBay becoming the international trading card powerhouse for collectors far and wide, consumers were limited to the confines of purchasing whatever their local card shop had on hand at the time.

If you lived in Portland, Oregon in 1995 and were a huge Chris Webber fan, your local shop likely didn’t have a whole lot to offer and you would just have to sit idle and hope they’d get in some C-Webb goodies in the next month or two, or maybe you’d get lucky and pull a couple of C-Webb’s from your latest box break.

Collecting cards was absolutely my most favored hobby, but could become slightly frustrating when trying to complete a set and the local shops didn’t have the last two or three cards that I needed. There were also players who I would try collecting but were not popular in the area so this of course meant not many of their cards were available to be purchased.

Professional price guides completely controlled the market post eBay and it was the golden rule of all shops in my area to follow the HI column to the fullest. Even if it meant charging $4.00 for a Richard Dumas, mass-produced rookie card. Richard, who? Exactly. These days, if you make a quick pit stop on eBay, you can pick up a Dwayne Wade rookie for that same price and it will even carry a $15.00 price guide value!

Still to this day, when I stop in at a local card shop to pick up supplies, I will see that same Dwayne Wade rookie that will cost you $4.00 on eBay, sitting on an old shelf for the proposed $15.00 price guide tag!

Aside from the wonderful fact that eBay allows the market values to be completely consumer controlled, you can also transact with users all across the globe, giving collectors thousands more collecting options and the opportunity to pick up any cardboard craving at the quick click of a mouse!

Understandably, the internet in general has given collectors like myself, the endless options of interaction with multiple individuals, in turn bolstering our cardboard kingdoms. But if it wasn’t for eBay, my opinion is that collectors would still be gouged for the ridiculous price guide values they once surrendered to.

With the introduction of eBay alone, I went from thinking that the sports card market was being flooded with mass produced, over-priced cards to, I finally feel I am paying the right price for what I am buying.

At about the same time that I started using eBay, was the time that I was becoming increasingly fed up with a lot of the professional price guides out there and was really wishing that consumers could dictate things a little bit more.

These days, I know of many collectors who will reference eBay’s “completed auctions” pricing page as opposed to a price guide for the simple fact that eBay has a free market and will usually show the truest raw value of any given card.

With eBay around, purchasing sports cards has become increasingly versatile for both the buyer and seller and allowed me personally to have a much more positive outlook and feeling of flexibility in my choices involved with the market. I will never look at trading the same way as I did back in the mid-90s as a limited selection of strictly priced cardboard but rather an unpredictably exciting endless selection of fun.

There isn’t a single other moment in my many years of collecting, that changed or influenced my collecting habits any more then the introduction of eBay. It truly did make me look at collecting as something new and improved. Not only did I have the option to now purchase almost any card that I could think of and not be confined to my travel limitations, but I also felt relieved knowing that the consumer could now dictate the value of the product they were purchasing.