Wednesday 5 May 2021

Being a collector in Canada is tough.

I'm seeing a lot all over the hobby news about PSA's backlog, as well as Ebay changing things to make it easier for trading card sellers.

The problem with being in Canada is that I don't have access to stuff like PSA or Ebay in the same way that people from the US do.

Take PSA, for example. It costs an enormous amount of money to submit a card to them for grading from Canada. So much, that it is not worth doing unless you are grading something that after it's graded will be worth hundreds of dollars or much more. It makes PSA prohibitive to use as a Canadian, and it is simply easier to buy cards already graded. For people that love the gamble of submitting cards to PSA, you really can't do it if you are Canadian.

There is a Canadian grading company called KSA, but no one takes them seriously. There is no point in submitting to them because the graded cards you get back do not command any premium above the cost of grading, for the most part.

Ebay is another example. Shipping is so, so expensive to Canada via Ebay. Also, there are a lot of sellers that won't ship outside the US. When I am on Ebay, I usually filter cards by location and try to find sellers in Canada first. There is a ton of hockey, but not much else. I then expand the search to sellers from the US, but often times you end up paying $25 to ship a single worth $5 here.

I used to use COMC as a mailbox service for Ebay, but COMC is deeply, deeply unreliable. They even lost one of my mailbox cards last year and it took them weeks to list it after the tracking said it was delivered. When I emailed and asked about the missing card, they never replied. It just showed up randomly in my port a few weeks later. That's way too much risk for me, because what if COMC never finds the card? What is their liability to me? And I can't file a claim on Ebay because the card is shown as delivered on tracking. Besides, it's not the Ebay seller's fault that COMC is run by boneheads.

Another thing is I see so many cool, low dollar trades going on throughout card blogs. I can't really participate in a lot of these because the cost of shipping between Canada and the US is expensive and most bloggers are south of the border.

So, I have to be strategic with my purchases. I haven't completed a trade in over a decade, but I'm guessing that's the case with a lot of people. I use to love using COMC until the pandemic hit and they flushed all their goodwill with customers down the toilet. Seriously, I complain about them a lot, but they have had the biggest downfall in goodwill by a company I've ever experienced. But although I've had credit sitting in my account with them for like a year now, I'm afraid of spending it because it will either cost like $50 to mail some cards, or I have to wait a few months.

Besides Ebay and COMC, my only other option is Sportlots. I really like Sportlots, but they are mostly used for commons. Sometimes you can find a bargain on a more valuable card, though. They also have a box service for Canadians, but it is just for Sportlots sellers to ship to a central location and then I accumulate all the cards and ship them to myself. It saves an enormous amount of money and the execution is smooth. However, I can't use it as a place to receive cards from Ebay.

Sportlots actually has a better business model than COMC, because the Sportlots catalogue is decentralized among many sellers whereas COMC has to worry about massive amounts of inventory. With COMC, there are so many questions about insurance, what happens to cards if the company goes bankrupt, missing inventory and stuff that's not catalogued. Sportlots doesn't have that problem so much because sellers control their own cards.

Anyway, participating in the hobby as a Canadian makes everything twice as expensive. And that's not even include the exchange rate, which adds basically 25% cost to every purchase. So, when a US seller charges me $20 for shipping, that's actually $25 to me. And if the card was $4, that's $5. So I am paying $30 for a $4 card. That sounds unbelievable, but it happens regularly to the point where I feel handicapped as a collector.

Are you a collector that lives outside the US? How do you deal with these issues?


  1. PWE shipping from the U.S. to Canada, and vice-versa, isn't too bad. I'm sure that you could find plenty of bloggers willing to do low-end trades if you were so inclined. Also, I don't know if you're on the TCDB or not, but people do trades across the border all the time. I myself just did one with a fellow in Ontario. I couldn't afford to do too many bubble mailers, but the global forever stamps for $1.10 aren't that bad, one stamp will cover at least nine well protected cards.

    1. Thanks for the info! I'm aware of TCDB, but I've never traded on that platform. I'd have to double check into cost for a PWE from me to the US, though, which is a whole different ball game for us here. Everything is leagues more expensive in Canada.

    2. Yeah, there are a lot of Canadian users on there, so there's no reason to think that you couldn't find some fellow countrymen to trade with as well.

  2. I spend a lot of time in Singapore (at least, when there isn't a pandemic), and I'm planning to move there eventually. There's no hobby at all there--once I found some Japanese Calbee potato chips with baseball cards at a store, but that's it.

    As of now do place eBay orders and such when I'm there and have them shipped to my US address, and it's usually not a problem. But when I go there full time, that's pretty much the end of my collecting. I don't know, I guess I can have stuff sent to my brother's place or something, but having things shipped to me in Singapore would be crazy.

    1. For sure, Singapore would be even worse. THat's why the COMC mailbox was so good, you could accumulate stuff there. But they've become deeply unreliable.