Starting a Sports Memorabilia Business

A star player's memorabilia can command a high price.
A star player's memorabilia can command a high price. (Image: Edward Mosser/iStock/Getty Images)

Sports memorabilia range from a Dan Marino bobblehead figure to a Babe Ruth baseball card. Launching a business that sells collectibles may sound like a blast, but you have to approach the venture with a cool head and lots of planning. The competition is fierce and includes eBay auctions and authorized dealers, so you'll need a solid plan and an angle to succeed.

Choose Your Venue

Some sports collectible businesses exist only on websites such as eBay, iOffer or on the business's own website. An online-only store is far cheaper to set up than a bricks-and-mortar operation. If you see a niche in your city, though -- nobody's selling memorabilia tied to the beloved local team, say -- a bricks-and-mortar store might be worth the investment. You can also consider cheaper setups than a store of your own, such as a mall kiosk or subleasing part of a sports store.

Research Your Field

Spotting a major collectible -- like the Honus Wagner baseball card that sold for $2.1 million in 2013 -- is a coup. It takes expertise to distinguish something that valuable from a card that might net you a few dollars, tops. Guidebooks such as "The Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards" are a good way to educate yourself. These books tell you not only which collectibles are most valuable but the difference between "mint" and "good" condition and how it affects price. Browsing websites that sell or auction collectibles gives you more information about current prices.

Find Suppliers

If you're looking at a long-term business, you'll probably need more than your personal collection of sports souvenirs. To offer your customers rare collectibles, you'll have to peruse online sites or visit flea markets and garage sales, hoping to find undervalued rarities. This can be fun, but it can also take time to find satisfactory products. To sell items such as official team gear, you'll have to negotiate with the team's licensing and marketing office.

Find Your Niche

You can approach your new business as a store that offers something for everyone or one that offers a highly specialized inventory to hard-core fans. The ideal niche is a store specializing in items your customers can't find anywhere else. If you're going the bricks-and-mortar route, research what's available in your town and what the fandoms are for sports. If you're selling online, apply the same kind of research into which niches are hot and which are underserved.

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