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So You Want To Open An Online Store? (Pt. 1 - Before The Store)

Henry Cortez

[Hello!  Please note that this series is based off my opinion and experience in the creation and maintenance of this site.  This is not a tutorial, guideline, recommendation, or anything near what I would call bulletproof advice in the creation of any potential business.]

Before I go on spilling the beans on all I have learned in my experience running a fledgling little online playing card store, I probably start with how we even got to that point of even considering making such a ridiculous decision on bringing socalplayingcards.com to life. To start, I’ve told the story a few times over about finding a 1963 deck of beat-to-hell green Golden Nuggets back in March of 2018 and how that got me started on my card collecting journey.  

After I immediately fell in love with that dirty, tattered deck, the collection started to grow and my search for every single deck printed different types of cards expanded.  I found Kickstarter, backing whatever at the time caught my eye.  And of course, the more you pledged, the cheaper the price per deck became. Later, finding decks from the likes of Lotrek, Kings Wild Project, Stockholm17 and others.  Also, hype decks, with limited print runs and crazy demand.   Eventually, the hunt was on for mythical, legendary decks (think Green Rarebit, White Centurion, Dunes Casino, you get the idea).  Old decks, new decks, and all points in between were all fair game!

As a collector, I’ve been on Instagram since January of 2019.  As I spent more time on Instagram chronicling my deliveries from Kickstarter, eBay, or wherever, people started messaging me asking if they could buy whatever I had just posted. Sometimes, depending on the decks that I posted, the messages would come in bunches.   And yes, sometimes the offers were damn good!  But early on, I was always a bit uneasy selling over Instagram.  My only other viable option at the time was eBay.  I already had quite a bit of experience selling items on eBay, specifically used guitar parts.  So now, it was time to start selling playing cards on eBay. 

Shifting gears quick, the practices that I utilize in packing orders were actually formed BEFORE I had even considered opening a web store.  Quite frankly, when items I purchased from eBay were delivered, it would absolutely blow my mind how poorly secured items were packaged.  Since I hated receiving decks in less than perfect condition, it got me thinking how everyone should pack I would like to receive them.

  • Plenty of cushioning/bubble wrap…
  • No movement…
  • In a sturdy box…
  • And most importantly….NO BUBBLEMAILERS!!!!

Some of you may remember when I received a Launch Edition Virt in a cavernous bubble mailer with no other additional protection.  If I remember correctly, I also received a different Virt from a different seller also in a bubble mailer that also arrived damaged.  Some of you will also remember my seemingly endless rant on only using bubble mailers and making the case that we pay probably too much good money to be receiving decks in a less than perfect condition.  Then came something that I started posting that I still see from time to time:

               #friendsdontletfriendsusebubblemailers

Throw in Carat Case Creations DS1 deck sleeve to the above list and I felt that I had a recipe for packaging items in a manner where items would be in the best possible position to arrive as perfect as possible.  Selling on eBay was going smooth.  I even had a super-sweet sticker to include in boxes!

I’ll be completely honest.  I never wanted to open a store, nor did I have any intention to.  I mean, it would briefly cross my mind, but realistically It sounded like a colossal pain in the ass challenge.  Luckily, I did have one friend who would CONSTANTLY occasionally let me know on a near daily basis that I needed to open a web store.  I would politely decline and let him know that things were going quite well on eBay.  That and I had started to become more comfortable selling over Instagram. 

There were then a few key moments where my mind started to shift on this crazy store idea.

  1. I started getting so many messages from Instagram about decks on my mail days, that it was getting confusing trying to track everything.  I was losing track of who wanted what.
  2. eBay fees are killer. Unless you have an eBay store (nope), eBay gets 10% right off the top of the sale AND shipping price.  PayPal then gets 2.9% of the sale price plus an additional $.30.  I later find that the 2.9% + $0.30 is pretty much industry standard, I pay that now on every transaction today. I had to do something different to get that 10% back.
  3. I saw that there was this new online store that opened called boomboombuttcheeks.com. Who was boomboombuttcheeks?  How did he open a store?  How do you even go about doing that?  I want to open a store!!!   So jealous!!!  (Side note – Brian is awesome!  Great guy, nothing but massive respect for him.)

So, after weighing the potential pros and cons, the question then became, would it be possible to open up an online store, use the same packing practices that I’ve already been using, possibly cutout the eBay fees, and just maybe not lose money in the process?  I already had a bunch of extra decks, organized in a small brown box that was originally filled with car wash supplies (Remember the Box of Crap?).  After a small pep talk from my friend again encouraging me to make the jump, I talked with Mrs. Cortez about it and we as a couple I decided that it was, at the very least, something to explore further.

Now, here were the basic tenets:

  1. Packing had to be as close to bulletproof as possible.
  2. The store would only be a hobby and just a short-term experiment.
  3. We knew that this is NOT going to replace my current line of work.
  4. Items need to be priced less than eBay. If not, what’s the point?
  5. It would only stay open until Jan 2020.
  6. We were expecting 4-5 orders a week.
  7. It had to stay FUN.
  8. If at any point it didn’t make sense, we would close it.

 Now, I just had to figure out how to make this possible….

 

PT 2 – Setting Up The Store (COMING SOON)


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