Flipping for a Cause: A Bargain Bin Hunter’s Story

In January of 2018, I made a resolution to make at least $2000 in eBay sales/profits before the end of the year in order to buy a decent copy of House of Secrets #92; the next book on my all-time grail list.  My selling strategy was two-fold: Sell as many dollar bin and cover price comics in my collection and avoid selling any of my more valuable comics.  Since I’m risk averse, eBay would be my only method of selling.  Unfortunately, I dragged my feet and lost out on some early selling opportunities.  By mid-March, I finally created some listings and everything was going well.  However, the announcement of a Swamp Thing show caused a surge in prices for all grades.  I had to immediately reevaluate my collecting goals, and I decided to chase first appearances of some of my all-time favorite characters instead.  In order, they are: Werewolf by Night #32 (WWBN32), Marvel Spotlight #5 (MS5), and Tomb of Dracula #10 (ToD10).  Each comic would have to be at least a 9.0, preferably CGCs.

By mid-June, I reached over half of my eBay sales goal.  However, I very quickly realized that chasing 9.0s would be too expensive.  Prices for WWBN32 and MS5 were rising. For the cost of a WWBN32 at 9.0, I could potentially purchase a WWBN32 and MS5 in 8.5.  So, in mid-July, I pulled the trigger on a WWBN 8.5 and it cost me $1050 ($1032 + $18 shipping).  At the same time, my dollar bin stock was running critically low.  Since there aren’t many places to hunt where I live, this meant that I would have to change my selling strategy.  In order to prevent my sales from stalling, I decided to sell some of the better stuff from my collection.  Some of the comics I decided to let go were: Batman 608 (2nd print) and Power Girl 6 (Gillem March Variant).  I also let a few graded comics go: Amazing Spiderman 252 (CBCS 9.2), Monstress 1 (2nd print; CBCS 9.8), and Marvel Premiere 15 (CBCS 8.0).  I was lucky to let the Marvel Premiere 15 go when I did.  Soon after, the Netflix Iron Fist show was cancelled, and the bottom fell out.  By late September, my original goal of $2000 was complete.  However, I would still need to generate more funds to purchase a copy of MS5. Before the end of October, I had about $1,200 to spend. All I had to do now was wait until a nice MS5 in 8.5 condition came to market. 

Many folks talk about buying the book and not the grade.  I actually agree with this philosophy.  Although I’m perfectly fine with an 8.5 Bronze Age comic, it still has to meet certain criteria.  For example, I don’t even consider purchasing any comics with restoration.  Additionally, I’m okay with a few spine tics, but I need my comics to have a straight spine.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly centered, but it has to present well.  Also, I’m not crazy about large creases or chips.  Finally, good page quality is a must.  At a minimum, I prefer my comics to have off-white to white pages.   

Before I knew it, it was mid-November.  I still wasn’t able to find a MS5 that met my minimum requirements.  Part of my strategy/thought process was that the holiday season would create a buyer’s market because people would be focusing on purchasing holiday gifts.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Not only did prices continue rising, fewer and fewer CGC 8.5s were being listed on eBay.  Perhaps there were some other outlets, but I tried to stick to eBay because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get swindled.  In my opinion, eBay and PayPal offer a lot of protection.

By late December, there had been some MS5 8.5 listings.  However, the listings didn’t meet my screening criteria.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t get buyer’s remorse later.  Also, I really thought that prices would eventually drop.  Instead, prices continued rising.  In the meantime, I continued to flip comics and my PayPal funds reached over $1,600. Finally in mid-February 2019, a CGC 8.5 was listed at $1,600 or Best Offer with free shipping.  Since prices were hovering around $1,500 to $1,600, I decided to submit an offer of $1,500.  Within minutes, my offer was accepted.  The best part was that this comic presented a lot better than an 8.5, and it had white pages.  Every listing that I was interested in before this one had off-white or off-white to white pages. 

My upcoming overseas summer move was looming and I didn’t expect to come anywhere close to generating enough cash for a CGC ToD10 in 8.5.  A couple of things happened at the end of February 2019 that I never anticipated.  Umbrella Academy (UA) was released by Netflix, and it was a major hit.  I was able to flip my extra UA comics that I’d found many years ago in dollar bins for nice returns.  Toward the end of March, 2019, the next thing to happen was the speculated return of Red She-Hulk.  I had previously secured a small stack of Hulk 15s, 16s & 17s of the 2008 series from bargain bins, long before anyone had shown any interest in the character.  Once again, I cashed in. 

As luck would have it, the fear of missing out actually played out in my favor.  Towards the end of March, a little thing called Naomi happened.  Some buzz was already happening, and I found a few copies on the rack at my LCS.  I only picked up two because I think the owner was starting to realize that I’m a speculator.  Besides, the third copy wasn’t CGC worthy.  Although I did go back to look for the last copy later, it was gone by the time I went back.  Anyway, I flipped my copies of issue #1a for a hefty profit.  Also at this time, Walmart released a variant Artgerm cover for Captain Marvel #1.  I’ve never had any luck with Walmart exclusives, but I decided to roll the dice and visited four of the five Walmarts in my area (I completely forgot about the fifth location). I picked up six 3-packs.  Anyway, by the time I got home, the flood had begun.  I decided to low ball my listing and get out while I could.  As luck would have it, someone bought all six of my copies in one transaction.  Leaving a little bit of meat on the bone was the best thing I could have done.  Once people realized that Walmart was restocking the Captain Marvel #1s, the bottom fell out. 

It was now early May 2019, and I finally had enough money in my PayPal account for a ToD10 CGC 8.5.  I had a couple of ToD10 CGC 8.5s on my watch list that were “Buy it Now” listings.  However, based on my research of previous sales, I believed they were priced way too high.  So, I decided to wait for a potential eBay coupon or an actual auction.  After waiting only a few days (now mid-May), a ToD10 CGC 8.5 with white pages was listed.  I immediately noticed that it was scheduled to end on a Saturday night.  Why is this important?  When I first started selling on eBay, I did some research on the best times to end listings for comic books.  Research showed that the best time to end an auction is on Wednesday and Sunday nights (as evidenced by higher $$$ sales). 

This gave me hope.  With literally seconds remaining on the auction, my computer started acting crazy.  I submitted a bid, but the eBay website kept repeatedly asking for my password.  As I was frantically re-entering my password, the auction ended.  I didn’t think my bid was submitted, and I thought I lost out on a huge opportunity.  However, I went back to my summary page and the alert was there for me to pay up.  I actually won the auction!  The final bid was actually the average that 8.5s had been going for $810 ($790 + $20 shipping).  The best part was that I had more than enough funds left over to replace the Marvel Premiere #15 that I sold off back in 2018, but in a better grade. 

In under a year and a half, I was able to secure three of the top five comics on my grail list in high grade.  It took a lot of self-discipline and determination.  Being flexible made it possible for me to shift my strategy and take advantage of the market.  Although I did miss out on some comics that I wanted, I remained patient and committed to my goal.  Missing out on some of the hot spec of the week was tough, but I learned to move on.  Due to my upcoming overseas move, I’ll be taking a break from selling comics for a few years.  However, I’ll still be hunting in shops all over Europe.  With some luck, I’ll come back with some hidden gems that I’ll be able to flip for a new cause when I return to the United States. 

Thanks for reading!

Published by enriqueae1

I'm a long time comic book collector and part time speculator.

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