Do you think Penny Hardaway is a penny stock and the Braves' third baseman is a blue Chipper? Beginning next Tuesday at noon, when online trading of rookie sports cards commences on thepit.com, you can bet on your beliefs.
"We're set up just like an E*Trade or Charles Schwab," says the site's founder and CEO, Marc Lore, 29, former chief risk officer and executive vice president at Sanwa Bank in London. "We predominantly have active professional players from all four major sports plus Tiger Woods, and each athlete has a four-letter symbol, just like stocks."
Thepit.com will open trading with an inventory of more than $1 million in rookie cards (and only rookie cards), 99% from top companies Fleer, Topps and Upper Deck. Each athlete has one rookie card that is graded in terms of market price and scarcity as the best (e.g., Ken Griffey Jr.'s 1989 Upper Deck card), and only that card is traded.
At thepit.com's Boiler Room-like offices in White Plains, N.Y., a team of market makers will determine a card's opening price. The trading floor will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday. Investors, who must be at least 18 years old and use a major credit card, will be able to check card prices on the website. Lore predicts that the average price of a card will be around $150, but he thinks that hot commodities such as Griffey's (GRIF) and Woods's (TIGR) should fetch more than a grand. Thepit.com will earn a 1% ($5 minimum) commission per trade.