The answer to how much money you need to open a sports card store varies greatly depending on the location and size of your card store. My best advice is to start cheap, cheap, cheap. Let me repeat that. Everything you do in the process of opening your store, do it as cheaply as possible. DO NOT BLOW LOTS OF MONEY ON A BASEBALL CARD STORE. You are opening a card store, not a Las Vegas nightclub. Odds are, you will fail at running your shop successfully. But if you are willing to take the gamble to open a store, at least start at the penny slots and move up to the high limit room later if you have success.
This page will serve as an example to how much money it will take to open a card store. Every step you take when opening your sports card store you should be looking to save money. You are taking a big risk opening a store, so don’t compound that risk by blowing a lot of money.
Below is a hypothetical step-by-step example of how I started a card store for:
What Happened Next? – One Month Profit Loss Example
*If I was in a partnership there will be a $70 fee to the State of California Secretary of State.
If I had employees there would be other permits, insurance, and paperwork required to submit.
Permits, Fees & Taxes Total: $163.00
I’ve found a retail location that I like. I’m going to sublease a spot inside this Grocery Depot store. While that may seem strange, I have solid reasoning. Below are some pictures of the Grocery Depot and the location inside where my store will be.
400 Square Feet – $0 Deposit – Month to Month – $400 Per Month
1) It’s cheap, small, month to month lease, and comes with some built in walk up traffic.
2) Stockton, CA is notoriously dangerous and in the wrong location, you will be robbed. Inside this Grocery Depot I’ll be safe.
3) Directly across the street from the Grocery Depot is the nicest shopping center in the entire city, Lincoln Center. With some well placed flyers I can get some people to walk over.
4) I get to use the display cabinets, cash register and other furniture items which will save me a few hundred dollars.
1st Month Rent Total: $400.00
Money Saving Tip #1: Sign a Short Term Lease
The location I picked out has display cases, a cash register and other furniture, but I’m going to act like I have an empty space to work with and calculate what it would cost me to fill it.
Furniture Total: $456
Electronics Total: $357
You have many options when it comes to sports card distributors. You can pick and choose which one works best for you. The distributors I used when I had my card store are no longer in business. Personally, I’ve heard good things about GTS and will start by using them for this new store. I will sign up for other accounts if my business goes well, but all I’ll need initially for sports cards is GTS.
WinCraft is an amazing place to find cheap, licensed sports items like stickers, pennants, key chains, pencils, basically almost anything.
I sold Beckett magazines when I owned my own store. They are easy to work with and people buy them. No matter what you think of the price guide, I’ll repeat it, people buy the magazines. You can return whatever you don’t sell for a refund. You do have to pay for return shipping, but you can ship it via USPS Media Mail and that is generally very cheap, even for a lot of magazines.
1) Sign up for a WinCraft Sports account. Free.
2) Sign up for a GTS Distribution account. Free.
3) Sign up for a Beckett Media account. Free.
Money Saving Tip #2: Don’t go overboard on your initial inventory.
VistaPrint is an amazingly cheap place to get business cards and other promotional stuff. Here is a business card I created in about 5 minuets. To get 500 of this business card in 8 days it would cost me $16.33.
Sign up for: Twitter – Instagram – Create a Facebook Page – Free
I need a 10 foot banner to hang above my door. All I want it to say is BASEBALL CARDS. Getting this made can cost about $60.
Banner Cost: $60
This is an area where I need to combine my own personal bill with my business bill. The cheapest At&t smart phone plan is $65 a month for a single line. But I don’t want to give out my personal cell phone number to my business customers.
That’s where the free Google Voice comes in. When setting up your Google Voice account make sure you get a free new number from Google. Then, you can forward that number to your cell phone, all for free. My phone number is: (209) 645-1991 and that just forwards to my regular cell phone number.
Total Phone: $65 Per Month
Processing debit and credit cards has changed a lot since I had my card store back in 2006. Now you can get a free Square card reader and run payments off your smart phone or tablet. This is the way to go. You can use it anywhere, and it charges 2.75% on all swipes.
Total Credit Card Processing Setup: Free
Exclusive: Get $1,000 FREE PROCESSING using this link from Square.
Here is what I plan to open my store with. I’m only getting items from WinCraft, GTS Distribution and Beckett initially. As I get a feel for what my customers want I will adjust.
NOTE: Prices for WinCraft items will be a little off. I have an older inventory list and the prices for the items I get might be slightly more or less.
5 – Colin Kaepernick Pennants – $20 ($4 each).
5 – 49ers Pennants – $10 ($2 each).
5 – 49ers Bumper Stickers – $5 ($1 each).
5 – 49ers License Plates – $10 ($2 each).
I’m going to get the same or similar inventory for the following teams: Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, L.A. Lakers, Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s.
Total WinCraft: $315
You can decide for yourself what type of sports card products you should carry. My store is going to be inside a Grocery Depot. People aren’t going to come in looking to buy a case of Panini Flawless. I need cheap, inexpensive new packs because initially those are the only ones that I might have a shot at selling.
NOTE: I know most of these products suck. Some of these packs I can sell for $0.75 cents each and double my money.
1 – 2015 Bowman Baseball $56
1 – 2015 Topps Series 1 Baseball $45
1 – 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball $55
1 – 2014 Topps Chrome Football $40
1 – 2014 Bowman Chrome Football $38
1 – 2014 Panini Hot Rookies $36
1 – 2013 Score Football – $15
1 – 2013 Topps Strata Football – $35
1 – 2014-15 Panini NBA Hoops – $52
1 – 2008-09 Upper Deck Victory Hockey – $9
1 – 2001 Upper Deck Golf – $10
GTS Distribution Total: $391
Craigslist Total: $200
Total Unopened Wax: $591
Most people starting a sports card store will probably have a fairly large collection of single cards from their own collection to initially get them going. I will want to have LOTS of boxes of single cards for people to go through. These are going to be a high margin item for me. I think I could get enough cards to stack to the ceiling for $500 by checking Craigslist and tapping into my local resources.
Single Card Inventory: $500
I have to give a rough guess as to how much I’m going to initially spend on supplies, but I will list out the things that I want to have. You also have to pay for shipping from your distributor when you buy supplies so that will be added in.
NOTE: Don’t pay attention to the Amazon price, that is just to give an example of the item.
Supply Inventory: $400
More Information: Buying Sports Card Supplies Direct
I can return what doesn’t sell, but I’ll probably go light on my first order. Maybe 3-5 of each magazine until I see which one sells the best. I’m not 100% sure of the current direct cost of a Beckett Magazine but I’ll go with $2.50 and update if I can find the correct price.*
Beckett Magazine Total: $50
Beckett Media Information – Wholesale $5.00* – SRP – $9.99*
Most of these items can be found at the dollar store.
Broom and dustpan: $8
Trash Can: $5
Trash Bags: $5
Printing Paper: $5
Glass Cleaner: $1
Paper Towels: $1
Housecleaning Total: $29
After I get a better idea who my potential clientele is and what they want, I’m going to want to re-load on some inventory since I didn’t buy a whole lot to start. You can be fairly liberal with this number, but I’m going to set it at $3,600 since my location is fairly small, only 400 Sq Ft.
Setting this money aside gives me an average of $300 a month to buy inventory as I need it during the first year in business. Although I wouldn’t obligate myself to use it during slow months. For the holiday season, October-December I may spend more then $300 a month to account for increased traffic at those times.
Inventory Re-Load: $3,600
You don’t want to run out of money in your first few months of opening your store. Even when starting a sports card on the cheap, as we’ve done here, it’s a good idea to stash some cash away when the inevitable pinch comes.
I’m going to stash away 7 months worth of rent into a bank account I don’t have quick an easy access to. Don’t touch this money unless it’s for rent.
Rent Runway: $2,800
Permits & Fees: $163
1st Month Rent: $400
Display Cases/Furniture: $456
Business Cards: $16
Phone Number: $65
Fan Items Inventory: $315
Unopened Wax Inventory: $591
Single Cards: $500
Supplies Inventory: $400
Beckett Magazines: $50
Inventory Re-Load: $3,600
Rent Runway: $2,800
What Happened Next? – One Month Profit Loss Example
My best advice would be to open your store with as little inventory as possible and get a feel for what people in your area want to buy. You will make mistakes in your initial ordering for your brand new store. Don’t compound that problem by getting stuck with thousands of dollars of products that collect dust on your shelves.
For example, I didn’t realize there were so many Dallas Cowboys fans where I was located (California) – and I would have done better if I stocked more of their items and less of teams/items that weren’t popular in the area when I owned my card store.
Don’t go overboard with your inventory to start. You can easily and quickly buy more if you are able to move through some packs or boxes during your first few days of opening. People won’t be coming in and buying cases! Trust me, you won’t catch a whale in your first few days. You may find that cheaper packs sell the best. Or maybe your customers only want to buy football packs and don’t care about baseball. Each market is probably different. It’s best not to get stuck with a bunch of inventory that just sits on your shelf.
In my article about starting a card shop for $10,000, I left myself $300 a month for an entire year so that I could buy inventory as my business developed. Leave yourself some money so that you can purchase new items from your store throughout the first year you are open instead of blowing it all in the beginning.
Don’t get talked into signing a long term lease for your sports card store. Anything over a year I would stay away from, and if I could go month to month I would. The retail real estate market has TANKED since 2008. You should be able to find a good deal unless you are opening a store in downtown San Francisco or the heart of Manhattan. Most retail landlords are begging to acquire tenants, don’t get suckered into a long lease.
Take your time finding a location. Be patient and don’t rush into anything. GO CHEAP. Anything over $1,000 a month rent is too much for a first time card store in my opinion. You have no business having to fork over $1,000 a month just for retail rent when you have no clue how much you’ll make on a daily basis. If you can’t find something for less then $1,000 keep looking. Consider sub-leasing a space inside another store, like I did in my card store example, before you spend a lot of money on rent. Go small, go cheap, start slow, take your time finding a place. You have the leverage as retail space should be plentiful in most of the United States.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I opened my card store was I signed a 3 year lease, and my total rent with utilities was about $1,100. That was way too much, and I really needed to start my store with a rent in the $400-$500 range.