How to Become a Registered Baseball Card Distributor

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Becoming a baseball card distributor in today's fast-paced, bargain-hungry marketplace is a business decision that should be made cautiously. Collectors and entrepreneurs often dream visions of grandeur, thinking a $5,000 collection will transform into a million-dollar business overnight. According to Joe Stahura, a retail card shop owner in Indiana, economic conditions and buyer-friendly online marketplaces have made the industry fiercely competitive with profit margins slim at best. With tighter margins, manufacturers are now requiring would-be distributors to pass a stringent list of qualifications before getting their hands on any wholesale inventory.

Things You'll Need

  • Website or brick-and-mortar retail store
  • Sizable collection or inventory of cards
  • Unexpired business license, retail permit or tax ID
  • Distributor application
  • Seller permit number

Distributor Application Process

  • Take a screenshot of your website, including homepage, online card inventory and hosting account details that prove ownership. Manufacturers will only accept you as a distributor if you have an established store in place. For retail stores, take interior and exterior pictures of your location. Interior photos need to clearly show the entire contents of your store. If you have a back room with extra inventory, take pictures here as well.

  • Photocopy your unexpired business license, voided business account check and resale permit or tax ID, reflecting the name and address of your store. Website owners should provide hosting account details such as IP address, name of hosting account owner, proof that your e-commerce website URL is attached to the hosting account and any other details that will provide proof of ownership.

  • Complete a wholesale distributor application provided by the manufacturer. This ensures that you have current inventory, an avenue through which to sell your inventory (such as a retail location or website), and valid sellers permit number issued by the state in which your business is located. Note the tax resale section on the distributor application. This section verifies that you have the ability to collect sales tax, avoid paying sales tax on any inventory you sell and that you're running a viable business in your state. These precautions are in place to ensure that hobbyists are not able to secure wholesale product, jeopardizing the industry's retail pricing structure.

  • Email or mail the application along with the required documentation to the manufacturer. Some major manufacturers are listed below.

    Upper Deck -- dealer_services@upperdeck.com

    Topps -- All Sports Marketing, 916 1st St., Batavia, IL 60510

    Panini America -- directs@paniniamerica.net

Tips & Warnings

  • Be prepared with $5,000 to $10,000 in current inventory before attempting to apply.
  • Once qualified as a distributor, most manufacturers will require you to order $1,000 to $2,500 or more of product annually to maintain your account.

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