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$100 Sports Cards Bargain Hunting Challenge

Sports cards expert Trent Henrich challenges himself to make a profit by bargain hunting with $100.

Whether you’re attending a small local card show with just 20 vendors or a national event, there are always deals to be found. If you read my last article about the Long Island National, I broke down a few deals in which I made significant profits. However, one detail became apparent: I was spending thousands of dollars, but not everyone has that much cash to spend.

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That’s why, this time around I challenged myself with a $100 budget to see how much of a profit you can make with a smaller bankroll at Rich Altman’s Boston Show.

Many dealers who set up at shows put their more expensive cards in display cases and put out their lower-end inventory in what one would call a bargain bin. Said bins usually contain cards in the $0.10-$25 range. Usually, if you purchase multiple cards out of these bargain bins the dealer will give you a discount, as people are usually more eager to move lower-end inventory. For this $100 challenge, I spent the majority of my time digging through these bargain bins to find the best deals. Here’s what I found…

Deal #1: Justin Fields Rookie Orange /99 for $10

I got to the show on Friday morning around 9:30 and started searching for bargains. At every show I attend in the Northeast, there are a few people I deal with consistently, and one of them is Papa Smitty (@PapaSmittyCards on IG). He always has cards at a wide range of price points, so I made sure to check out his table first on Friday. While going through one of his boxes, I came across this Justin Fields 2021 Panini Xr Rookie Orange numbered /99. The card had a price tag of $20, but following some negotiating he agreed to take $10 for it.

Fields is one of the most popular football players in the card world today. As a young star coming off a great season, people are buying into the hype for his 2023 campaign. I felt comfortable paying $10 without any research prior to purchasing knowing that Fields’ value will continue to rise as we creep closer to preseason. Following the deal, I did check out the two most recent sales of this card on eBay. To my satisfaction, they were for $28 and $63. With those sales having a large price difference, I feel comfortable putting the floor value of the card at $25 with a ceiling of about $50.

Deal #1 Projected Profit: $15-$40

Deal #2: Six Card Bargain Bin Purchase for $15

The next purchase for this challenge took some time and effort. I approached the Quick Consignment 802 booth (@quickconsignment802 on IG) where they had roughly a dozen bargain bin boxes full of cards ranging from $2 to $25. I was confident with a bit of work I could find some cards that were either undervalued or had the potential to go up in the near future. After about 30 minutes of digging and research, I pulled out six total cards. The combined asking price for them was $23, and as a result of buying multiple cards the dealer only charged me $15 in total ($2.50 per collectible).

The three cards on the bottom row of the picture are rookies of Jalen Hurts, Justin Jefferson, and Joe Burrow. Even though they aren’t short-printed and can be commonly found, they all have a value of $3 to $8 and have room to grow as the NFL preseason approaches. However, the cards on the top row are a bit rarer. The Anthony Davis is a 2021-22 Donruss Optic T-Minus 3…2…1 Blue Prizm numbered 1/85. The last sale of this specific piece on eBay was for $15, and with the Lakers in the midst of a deep playoff run the card has room to grow.

The next card from the lot is a Patrick Mahomes 2022 Donruss Elite Deck SP. The Elite Deck insert is only released in hobby products and only 20 players are featured throughout the set. As a result, this Mahomes sells anywhere from $9 to $25, offering a high ceiling value. Lastly, we have an Aaron Donald 2014 Bowman Rookie Gold numbered /399. Donald is one of the best defensive ends of all time, allowing his collectibles to maintain considerable value. The last sale of this card on eBay was for $22, and a PSA 10 version of it last sold for $326, so this piece has a lot of potential upside if graded!

Deal #2 Projected Profit: $25-$40

Deal #3: Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence Rookies for $50

The third purchase I made for the challenge was future-focused and it did take up half of my spending budget, but I believe this decision will pay off in the long run. As I walked the show floor, I was focused on purchasing football cards knowing that the value would increase throughout the offseason. I came across these cards at the table of local dealer Tom York (@603_cards on IG) who had them priced at $65 for the pair. After some negotiations, we agreed to a price of $50 ($25 per card).

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The Joe Burrow SGC 9 2020 Donruss Rated Rookie Red Press Proof was the card that caught my eye first. This card is short-printed and very condition sensitive, so an SGC 9 is a favorable grade. With similar sales ranging from $35 to $55, it can turn a nice immediate profit with the ability to be worth more come football season. As for Lawrence, if you believe the future isn’t bright for the former #1 overall draft pick, you’re in the minority. This specific Lawrence 2021 Panini Select Rookie Concourse Silver is currently selling for $25 to $35 but I’ll hold it until the season returns, as I expect the Jaguars to have another winning season and Lawrence to make a potential push for MVP.

Deal #3 Projected Profit: $10-$40

Deal #4: Star Football Lot for $25

Continuing with the football theme, my final purchase of the challenge was a group of cards of current NFL stars. The dealer I purchased these cards from listed every card in the box for $4. After digging through what he had, I pulled out seven cards and he cut me a deal of $25 for the lot (Roughly $3.50 per card). This was perfect, as it allowed me to stay within the $100 restrictions.

The Sauce Gardner and Davante Adams rookie cards were the first two I pulled out. After doing some research I learned they happened to both sell for a similar range of $5 to $9 and felt comfortable buying them. The Cooper Kupp NT Jersey, Jahan Dotson XR Rookie Auto, Josh Allen Under The Lights, and Joe Burrow Optic Rookie were no-brainers. I purchased these with confidence and did research after to confirm my expected valuation of $10 to $15 per card. The last card in the lot was a Garrett Wilson Illusions Trophy Collection Rookie numbered /30. I think this card is extremely undervalued with recent sales in the $13 to $20 range, which occurred prior to the Aaron Rodgers trade. Wison will now have the 4x MVP at quarterback, giving him a great opportunity to break out as one of the best receivers in the game.

Deal #4 Projected Profit: $35-$70

To recap, I purchased a total of 16 cards for $100. Based on recent sales and the current market, I should be able to make a total profit anywhere from $85 to $190. Not too shabby for only spending $100 and a couple of hours at a show.

The next multi-day show I will be attending will be the Fenway Card Show on May 20th-21st. This is one of the most unique card shows in America as it takes place inside Fenway Park. I look forward to seeing some of you there!