Trading cards w/ itradecards.com
By Kurt Kuersteiner (© 2001 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards) for The Wrapper Magazine
When I first heard about the new on-line trading community of itradecards.com, I figured it was just another copy cat of ebay. Yes, both sites offer non-sports cards for sale on the internet, but the similarities basically end there. There are some big differences that make learning more about this service worthwhile to people (like myself) who still have large want lists, but find themselves using ebay less and less.
I used to scan all the non-sport auctions on ebay every week. Now that it's too large and there's so much of the same thing, it just isn't worth my time. I now run select searches and usually look for the same items over and over (rarely with any luck). Itradecards is more helpful in this regard because it stores complete data bases of collector's dupes, so when I do a search, it's goes though everyone's lists looking for what I need. Collectors can even put themselves on a email list to be notified when new cards are added that may be of interest to them.
This service can be very helpful for folks searching for cheap singles that sellers would otherwise not list on Ebay at .30 cents a listing, or even The Wrapper at .10 cents a word. (If the card sells for under .50, regular advertising doesn't make sense in most forums. This service charges nothing extra for any listings whatsoever.)
Many of the cards are offered for trade, others for regular sale or auction, and a few are just given away as prizes. In fact, there's a different prize given away every day. They range from vintage bicycles to unopened boxes of cards, several from the 1960s. Some of the big auctions are actually prizes too, with no one aware of it until the auction closes and the winner gets the item for free! (Now that's a novel approach!)
Of course, nothing is completely free, and Itradecards gets it's revenues from monthly subscribers (starting at $12.95 a month). The first seven days are a free trial, so users can try the service for a week and bow out at no cost if they're unsatisfied for any reason. Since the subscription cost is the only cost, expensive items save the sellers a lot of commission money. For sellers doing volume, the savings can be really significant. For buyers, this means additional variety.
The other major difference for itradecards from other on-line services is just that: Service. Try to find a phone number for ebay, or even Paypal. If it's anywhere on their site, I haven't found it, and believe me, I've tried. (They clearly don't want to be bothered with your problems.) I doubt itradecards likes hearing problems either, but they get involved to sort them out and they take anyone's call at (949) 766-9284. Like The Wrapper, dealers who accumulate a list of complaints are dumped. Not every "he said-she said" complaint can be resolved, but multiple problems with the same person make the guilty party obvious.
So how does it all work? Collectors join, upload their lists of items for sale or trade, and itradecards connects you with those looking for what you have. Free classifieds and auctions are also offered, as are chat rooms and forums. And of course, your own search for wants is available. The one price covers everything.
I was surprised to hear that nearly 70% of the items offered were non-sports, and most of that is NOT gaming cards. If this will change as the service grows is anyone's guess, but it's off in the right direction. The service is only several months old, so anything is possible.
The folks at itradecards.com want to promote non-sports in any way they can, because the more people who collect, the more people who need to finish their sets-- and the larger their potential subscription base. They also offer card show schedules, links to dealers, and various misc. information to help collectors. Future projects include data banks of which manufactures made what, new discoveries, and price guides.
What sort of effect the emphasis on trading will have on established dealers is unknown. Will all the direct swapping between collectors reduce the retail card business? Or will it encourage more collectors and increase the overall hobby size? One thing is for certain: Trading cards are supposed to be about trading, so any growth in that area will be beneficial as far as collectors are concerned.
It's hard to imagine ebay has became such a large part of the non-sports landscape in only three years. I don't expect it to go away anytime soon. But it will be interesting to see what effect itradecards could have and how quickly it might change non-sports cyberspace. We'll be watching...
As an added bonus, Itradecards.com President Jim Weiss is offering a free 1 year membership to the first 25 Wrapper readers who email him asking for it. Just email email@example.com with the subject heading "Free account, Wrapper Magazine."
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