A sports-card collector who sold over $350,000 worth of cards in 3 months shares his best tips for making it in the resale market

  • Dan Fleyshman has been trading and collecting sports cards since he was a kid. Now he's a successful cards reseller and owner of recently opened Cards and Coffee, a sports-card shop located on Hollywood Boulevard.
  • He shared with Business Insider the investment strategies that helped him sell $350,000 worth of cards in the last few months.
  • He recommended investing in cards of players who will stand the test of time even after they retire.
  • Investing in people you like or cards of players whose value you can't explain is risky.
  • Getting your cards appraised can up their value, and only invest as much as you're willing to sit on for a while. Consider card reselling like collecting fine artwork.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Dan Fleyshman got his entrepreneurial start between the ages of four and eight selling baseball cards at a farmer's-market-like event on weekends, at a booth where his parents sold Levi's jeans from a van. By high school, he was selling candy on campus by day and working three jobs by night. 

After launching a clothing brand in high school, he landed a $9.5 million licensing deal at the age of 19 and went on to take the company public at age 23.

Now Fleyshman, 39, has returned to his childhood roots selling sports cards. Last year, he told Business Insider, during the National Sports Collectors Convention, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk invited him to spend a few days at his card booth. 

"Seeing his passion got me back into [sports-card] investing, but then this year after experiencing so many of the cards going up 300%, 400%, and some 1,000%, it made me focus serious capital, time, and resources into the card market," Fleyshman said. 

In just the last few months, Fleyshman has sold around $350,000 worth of cards from his collection of individual sports cards and boxes, and he believes that the remainder of his collection is worth far more than that.

And just last month Fleyshman launched Cards and Coffee, a sports-card shop located on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles that he cofounded with Steve Aoki and DJ Skee. The shop specializes in buying and selling cards, boxes, and packs from the public, grading cards for customers for a fee, and selling customers' cards on consignment, and lists cards on eBay and StockX. 

Fleyshman said that there are a few LeBron James and Michael Jordan cards in his store that add up to more than $350,000 alone out of 1,200 graded cards and over $600,000 of sealed boxes. 

In a recent Instagram promo video of the store — which featured images of card aficionados donning masks, which are required in the shop in light of COVID-19 —  the cofounder said the shop features over $2 million worth of NFL, NBA, MLS, MBA, PGA, tennis, and Pokemon cards.

Another key service at Fleyshman's card shop is an online component called "Live Breaking," which he described as the main focus of his business. 

"Customers pay for individual packs and boxes and rip them open on a livestream to showcase it," he said. "You could get a box of cards that are not worth too much or get a box with a card that is worth $20,000. It's fun and exciting, but unlike casino gambling the customer leaves with something regardless." 

He sees this approach as the future of the sports cards business. 

"We are really focusing on the online world to ship locally and internationally to all clients in a new and exciting way," Fleyshman said. 

"There's no food for sale, only sports cards and Pokemon," he added, in reference to the store's name. 

Fleyshman said his investment strategy is "hyper-focused on supply and demand." Here are his top tips for card buying and reselling.

Purchase rookie cards — because the market has dictated for decades that they want rookie cards

Fleyshman said that with each player, there's a "determined card" that the market decides. 

"You have to go after cards that people want to pay for, in theory the supply and demand," he said. "You have to go after cards with the most demand. It's important to follow the trends and try your best to be ahead of the trends." 

Invest in players that have big names, big marketing, and can withstand the test of time

"Unless you're flipping cards, you have to look at players that are going to be famous after they're done playing sports," Fleyshman said. He listed Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal, and LeBron James as great examples of players that did impressive things after their careers ended. 

"Other players might be similarly good, but if they are not a huge household name in their career before they retire, their cards will not do as well," he said. "You want players that will still be in the public eye." 

If you have to explain the value of the card, don't buy it 

For a card to be worth purchasing, people should know the card and be actively seeking it, Fleyshman said.

"You should know who the household names are and know that those are the most valuable," he said. "A good indicator is explaining the name to people who are not NBA fans. Another good indicator is if [the players] have international recognition."

Don't invest in players you like just because you're a fan 

The entrepreneur called the approach of picking cards of your favorite players "collecting" as opposed to investing. 

"[Collecting] is fine, and a fun hobby, but for investment purposes, focus on young superstars and old-school legends," Fleyshman said. "Old-school legends are of course important to invest in, but young superstars who are breaking records and have championship teams are also important to invest in." 

As examples of rising stars whose cards are worth purchasing, he pointed to basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo — whose card sold for a record-breaking $1.81 million in September — as well as Ja Morant, who was named the NBA's Rookie of the Year for 2019-2020, and 20-year-old Zion Williamson, who has only been in the NBA for a little over a year yet has already graced many Sports Illustrated covers.

"[Antetokounmpo] is named the 'Greek Freak of basketball' as he proves to be a force to be reckoned with," Fleyshman said. "It's important to pay attention to breaking records and who is winning awards — those are the superstars." 

Only invest what you can afford to have locked away into a player's card for years

Fleyshman said that investing in trading cards is similar to being a fine art collector — which means you should be prepared to wait a while to see your investment appreciate. While he's been making money from flipping cards that have skyrocketed in value this summer, he's also opted to hold onto most of his collection because he believes that the value of his cards will keep rising as the years pass, like artwork.

"You're hoping that the player's brand name/legacy will grow over time, which will in turn raise the value of their cards," Fleyshman said. "For example, you can invest in Zion Williamson now, but what you're really investing in is, 'Will they go down with some of the greats?'" 

Another good example, according to Fleyshman, is Luka Doncic. 

"[Doncic's] card was worth $70 last year and now it's worth more than $1,400," Fleyshman said. "That's more than a 2,000% growth." 

16-year-old Andrew Park, for example, sold a Doncic basketball card for $350,000 that he'd purchased about six months earlier for $75,000, pocketing $250,000 from just one card.

Fleyshman suggested considering your investment goals to help you decide whether to hold onto a card or to sell it. 

"You can say to yourself, 'When this card gets to $400, $600, or $800 in value, then I will sell,'" he said. "You can also look at timeline goals, which you can set for yourself every season, which you can say to yourself, 'I will revisit the card every season/championship and see if I'd like to sell then.' By looking at the cards at the end of the season and based on how they played, that's how its value gets boosted."

Get your cards appraised to increase their value 

Fleyshman added that it's important to get your cards graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), which he said is the biggest authentication and grading company. 

"For example, if PSA gives you a 7, that's one price, 8 another, but if you have a 10, it will be worth thousands of dollars," he said. "This can take anywhere from three to six months for the slowest service, 20 to 30 days for the premium service, or five days for the ultra-fast service. If your card is raw (has not been graded), it will be worth so much less." 

"For you to get a better idea of how much your card is worth, search on eBay and look at sold items (while people will sell it for more) — you can see what they actually bought it for and that will show its actual worth," he added. 

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