Card Shark

A Rochester entrepreneur found early success selling baseball cards for a profit, but when the market dried up, he switched gears.


Published:

George Kruk bankrolled part of his college tuition selling baseball cards — and he’s still at it. Today, the 42-year-old eBay “powerseller,” together with 13 employees, operates Kruk Cards out of a large warehouse in Rochester.

Kruk’s house of cards contains more than 50 million items and, on any given day, the entrepreneur lists over 5,000 pieces on eBay. Auctions have included a 1958 Topps Pee Wee Reese card for $9.59; a $14.99 autographed Jose Canseco photo; and a 1967 Detroit Tigers jersey, worn in a game by Bill Freehan, listed at a minimum bid of $2,499.

“I really enjoy buying entire collections … especially when I can sell something for twice what I paid,” says Kruk, who often acquires inventory through “buying” ads he posts in newspapers, trade publications, and on Craigslist.

Kruk first caught the bug for wheeling and dealing as a freshman at Michigan State University, after circulating fliers on campus offering to buy entire baseball card collections from fellow students looking for extra cash. Kruk, who often traveled to baseball card shows on weekends and throughout the summer, fondly recalls buying one set of cards for $200 and selling it for $2,000.

After earning a degree in finance in 1991, the Rochester native pursued his passion full-time during a period when baseball, football, and hockey trading cards were popular.

Although the card craze bubble burst in the mid-’90s, due to an oversupply of manufacturers, cards, buyers, and the 1994 baseball strike, Kruk Cards is still one of the country’s largest dealers. “Investors have basically left the card business, and now it’s back to the roots with the pure collectors,” Kruk says.

He attributes his success to persistence, hard work, and the ability to adjust to changing markets and tastes. Over the last 11 years, Kruk and his team have sold 300,000 items on eBay.

“Out of necessity, we’ve had to diversify because cards simply are not hot anymore ... we’ve focused more on game-used jerseys, autographs, and other sports memorabilia,” he says. “I believe our growth is in memorabilia. People still want to be close to the athletes, and cards may not get them as close as much as a signed baseball or an item used in a game.”

Currently, 75 percent of Kruk’s sales are via eBay, but he is constantly looking for other ways to boost business. db

 

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Design Studio

Toll Brothers, a residential building outfit in metro Detroit, is using a 5,000- square-foot design studio to show off all of the different options they can build with.

Express Payment

A novel kiosk payment system launched in Detroit expands its offerings.

Grounds For Success

A fifth-grade class in southwest Detroit is selected as Young CEOs of the Year.

PDA Q&A: Alan Jay Kaufman, E-Interview

Interview with CEO of H.W. Kaufman Financial Group in Farmington Hills.

eGoals

Mark Bellissimo took over JRT Agency two years ago. Ever since, the company has been thriving.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Somerset Collection in Troy Announces New Retailers, Expanded Shops and Restaurants
    The Somerset Collection in Troy today announced it is adding 15 new stores over the next year,...
  2. Hudson’s Site in Downtown Detroit is Redesigned and Expanded
    Bedrock, part of the Quicken Loans Family of Companies in downtown Detroit, went back to the...
  3. Department of Transportation Secretary Visits MCity in Ann Arbor to Release Updated Federal Automated Vehicle Guidance
    U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today visited MCity, a public-private...
  4. Detroit Officials: Tax Foreclosures Down 88 Percent in Past Two Years
    City of Detroit and Wayne County officials today announced that tax foreclosures throughout...
  5. Downtown Detroit Partnership Reveals New Capitol Park Designs
    The Downtown Detroit Partnership (DPP) revealed renderings for the redesign of Capitol Park at a...
  6. Impossible Burger Makes Midwest Debut at Michael Symon’s B Spot Restaurants
    The Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger developed by Impossible Foods in Redwood City,...