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  1. #1






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    Postage: A Hobby Pain in the Wallet - Contest Entry by JFried1029

    Postage: A Hobby Pain in the Wallet
    By JFried1029

    Ah....The good old days of trading and selling cards online. The time was back in 1999, before the existence of Sports Card Forum (“SCF”) when I first used the old message boards for trading and selling cards. Back then postage for a bubble mailer started at 49 cents. There were literally no restrictions on what trades made economic sense. Someone wanted to trade a $5.00 card for another $5.00 card? Sure, why not? There was no need to think twice about it.

    Fast forward to the present day. The lightest package of cards shipped in a bubble mailer costs over $2.50 to send. Low end trades by mail have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Why spend that much on postage if you could buy the card locally for one dollar? I know I am far from the only trader who has to think about the economics of postage before agreeing to a trade.

    Years ago it was a rarity to hear traders saying “I only ship within the United States” or “ I am avoiding one for one trades because the postage is too high”. Nowadays it has become all too common.

    Sending overseas? Forget it. All but the highest end deals no longer make economic sense as the postage for a bubble mailer is now basically ten dollars for those of us who reside in the United States.

    There is no doubt that the internet trading portion of the card hobby has declined somewhat and the blame for this can be placed squarely on the 400% increase in the price of sending a bubble mailer over the last eighteen years.

    I can recall the time period several years ago when it was not uncommon to see multiple SCF traders with over 100 trades each in a month. SCF even added a badge for traders who reached the century mark. In fact, my research indicates we have had one person reach the 100 trade mark in the last 39 months. As recently as July of 2009, in that one month alone three different traders on this site exceeded the century mark. And that as most of us recall, was during a very poor economic period all over the world. In that month of July 2009 SCF had over 6600 transactions. Last month, April 2017, there were just over 1000.

    I am certain that these changes are not 100% attributable to the severe hike in postage rates, but I would have to believe it is far and away the leading culprit.

    A look at the website leader boards for the last several months reveals that in recent times the leading trade in a month will usually have fewer than fifty trades. It isn’t difficult to understand: how many of us can afford to spend $250.00 or more on postage in a single month? Not many of us, that’s for sure.

    The only alternative for less expensive postage that still exists is the lowly plain white envelope which carries with it the stigma of an increased likelihood of cards arriving damaged. Even that method of shipping has experienced dramatic increases in cost percentage-wise!
    If the rates of postage continue to climb in the manner they have (and the losses incurred by the Post Office would suggest this to be the case) the book value necessary for a trade to make sense will continue to rise. It would be interesting to know how the average dollar value of individual trades has changed over the years.
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    As many trades as this industry generates, it is impossible to imagine the day when the Post Office drops its rates for bubble mailers because of the decline in volume. Simply put, this hobby lacks sufficient clout with the Post Office to make this occur.

    I understand that this phenomenon has impacted other hobbies and businesses as well. Although I do not frequent eBay, I would imagine that there are fewer low dollar items being sold there than fifteen years ago because of the steep climb in postage.

    Unfortunately, the situation has a disproportionately high effect on low end traders such as set collectors, and the younger members of our hobby. The kids who start out as low end traders often become the higher dollar traders who stay with the hobby and become higher end traders as they get older. The online opportunities for these traders have diminished and will very possibly continue to do so...

    So where do we go from here? It would not be surprising to see a resurgence in the popularity of local card shops and local card shows, both of which have dramatically declined in hobby importance since the rise of the Internet. While this in itself would not necessarily be a bad thing, to those of us who have become accustomed to trading without geographical limitations, it would feel like a step backward.

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  2. #2






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    Great article, you do make some excellent points. I'm so very relieved that I do not live in England anymore, I can't imagine how hard it would be to make trades from there...

    Maybe @RGM81 can propose a solution with an article about COMC postage he told me about...not everyone knows about that service and it is useful.

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  3. #3
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    I think your last paragraph is intriguing to me. I love going to shows locally in the Buffalo area, when they pop up. But I'm not sure if it would necessarily be going backwards, especially if you can make it a true event.


    Enjoyed the read

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  4. #4




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    Great article! As a collector with mostly cards on the lower end I totally agree. So many trades aren't made solely bc it just isn't worth it when you factor in the postage.

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  5. #5






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    Congrats @JFried1029 this is the winning article!

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  6. #6




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    Very good read. I only started trading on here maybe a year or 2 ago and since the bulk of the Basketball traders are in the U.S. it makes it hard to do low end deals from Canada. I live 10 mins from the border and have thought about getting a P.O Box. Does anyone have any experience with that?

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  7. #7





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    Congrats @JFried1029 this is the winning article!

    Pheebs888- Thank you!

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  8. #8





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    Very good read. I only started trading on here maybe a year or 2 ago and since the bulk of the Basketball traders are in the U.S. it makes it hard to do low end deals from Canada. I live 10 mins from the border and have thought about getting a P.O Box. Does anyone have any experience with that?

    rjabreu88- Thanks for the compliment; glad you enjoyed it.

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