Hey everyone and welcome back to ChannelFireball! I’m back with another collecting article and it is something quite different from the usual. While it may not be for all the people out there collecting their favorite Pokemon, it is super relevant to the community financially. Have you ever wondered why anyone cares about bulk common cards? I certainly did in the past and I am I am sure a lot of people reading this may have boxed up bulk before. Even if you have not, I am sure some of the information in this article might surprise you! Regardless of that, you will absolutely walk away from this knowing all there is to know about what happens with bulk.
For those of you out there that may not know what bulk is, I’ve got you covered. Bulk is where each rarity of Pokemon card is assigned a value and then these cards are sold at that bulk rate, which is where it got its name. This looks something like “a common for 4 cents; a rare for 6 cents; a Pokemon-GX for $2” and so on. Generally, if you are going to sell bulk, you will want to make sure you have removed anything valuable from it, because you are otherwise just giving away value. I will talk more about that later in the article from the perspective of the buyer because that is a big part of this entire market.
The experience of selling bulk requires the organization of your cards and then the counting of them. This lets you say something like “I have 1,000 commons, 500 rares, 100 GXs” so that the buyer can pay you the agreed upon rate. If this is done in person then great, you are pretty much done. If you need to ship them the cards, I recommend using a Priority Mail Flat Rate box that is fitting for the number of cards you have. I also recommend using bubble wrap or a similar material to ensure there is no extra space in the box. Printing a label online via PayPal or stamps can save you some money on shipping as well.
Once you break it down the process is quite simple, let’s get started with the first step…
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This is the most popular thing that happens to bulk after it is purchased because it is simple to do and can be quite lucrative. No matter what someone plans to do with the bulk after this step, it only makes sense to squeeze out some extra value by picking out cards that are worth more than the bulk rate to sell in a different manner. Even if a card is just worth a quarter, it was likely just acquired for around four cents and there is obviously opportunity there. The fact of the matter, though, is often the person selling the bulk originally is not focusing on value whatsoever. This means that cards worth much more can be found inside, such as sleeper cards like Dark Patch. I have even heard of Gold Stars being found in bulk!
Everyone involved in buying bulk will do this, but what happens next?
After picking the bulk, the two options I am going to discuss in this section are by far the most common.
The average bulk buyer’s goal is to simply resell it to the place with best rate after they pick it. This means they start by obtaining the bulk at a rate that is less than they would receive themselves, so they automatically profit that difference. On top of that, they will also pick the bulk, meaning they will profit whatever they can from that as well. I have done this before, and I have had ranging amounts of success. I am lucky enough to have a local place to sell bulk to and they are always matching the best rate, which means I do not have to pay to ship the bulk when I resell it. However, due to the amount of time it takes to deal with receiving the bulk, going through it, and then selling it, the worthwhileness of the transactions normally came down to the quality of the bulk. On days where I was getting bulk packed with pickable cards I felt like an absolute genius and be ready to buy more. On the other side of the coin, there were days where I got shipments of perfectly picked bulk and dreaded ever buying more. So, in that aspect, I guess it is pretty hit or miss when just buying a bit of bulk. When you buy a lot of bulk, though, you should have enough good days to warrant it all.
Everything I said above about picking the bulk remains true, both my personal experiences and the fact that this always happens. It is potentially just free money every time, so there is no reason not to do it. However, once that step is done, there is another option as for what to do with the picked bulk. The lots on eBay and Amazon that say something like “100 common cards and a GX guaranteed” are what I am talking about here. You may pay something like four dollars for what you include in that and be able to sell it for $10. After shipping you make about three, but that means you are profiting something like 75% on the deployed capital. However, there are some bumps in the road here. Otherwise, I assure you that I would be all over this. Trust me, I have tried and that is why I know some of the issues you may run into.
First off, volume is key when it comes to bulk and that could not be truer here. When you are selling a hundred cards in each lot and buying thousands in each shipment, you’ll need to be a very high-volume seller when it comes to these bulk lots. Otherwise, it will take a long time and you won’t be able to continuously churn and burn through new bulk. Remember, new bulk is sweet because you also get to pick through it. Not only does volume mean everything, but your competition on this will be no joke. I am certain that there are some very successful individuals out there in this space, but you will also be competing against the big companies that everyone knows. These companies have way more bulk, fleets of staff and can crush your margins because they can always afford to be the cheapest. They won’t target you or anything of course, but if you are suddenly crushing Amazon and eBay sales, it is only natural that the competition tries to take its market share back by adjusting their prices. Basically, what to take away from this is that volume is key, margins can get shaky, and competition is rough.
As I said, those routes are the most likely scenarios for what happens to bulk after it is picked, but there is one more option as well, though it is relatively hush-hush and is not an option for everyone.
So, obviously the bulk lot method mentioned above is how a lot of these cards find their final homes, as the people buying them tend to be parents and the cards find make their way into a child’s possession. However, that is not the only place these bulk cards end up, as there is a more interesting and lesser-known route as well.
Remember those mystery pack items you can find at Walmart, Walgreens, and stores of the like? That is where some of these cards end up as well, believe it or not. While that may seem strange at first, it makes sense when you think about it. The cards in those packages tend to be of lesser value and they must come from somewhere.
I do not know the exact details as I have not participated in this before, as I am told only large companies get the opportunity to. These companies sell the bulk to the distributors that handle those sorts of products, the bulk gets used appropriately and then the products make their way into the shelves. This tends to mean getting a better bulk rate from what I hear, which is why this route is attractive to the companies participating.
As nice as these mystery boxes might be for the seller and no matter how attractive they might seem to a buyer, I would stay away from a majority of these if I were you. They tend to have pictures of high value cards on the front or make the promise of some sort of guarantee, but they will almost always contain very low value cards. You will almost certainly walk away with junk wishing you would have purchased a different product.
That is, it for this one, everyone! Like I said, the bulk market is quite simple once everything is out in the open. The mystery box route is certainly interesting and may surprise people, but it not really an available option for most people handling bulk nowadays. It is a final resting place for it, though, so I did not want to leave it out of the article. The people deserve to know! I am honestly not sure how many people already knew about that, so leave a comment down below if you have anything to say about it.
Before I go, I just wanted to remind everyone that ChannelFireball is always buying Pokemon cards and more! This includes bulk and they have a very easy system for you to sell yours. Look at it if you are ever looking to sell. Anyways, I will be back next week with another article and I hope you all enjoy the world of Pokemon while I am gone.