We have sent 22 ISA 10s to PSA....wait til you see how many came back 10s.
There are many grading companies trying to get a piece of the hobby.
When PSA shut down, the floor was open. Like many others, we were looking for other options. We came across ISA Grading and were intrigued for a few reasons:
They do not do 9.5s (10 or 9)
They have a simple slab - like a blue version of PSA
The prices and turnaround times are great
We have met them at local shows and respect what they do
When PSA came back, it cost an arm and a leg. We assumed those prices would eventually fall, so we took a break from pursuing grading. When the prices got down to $30, we felt comfortable lining up cards for grading again. Right around the same time, ISA came out with their $10 RCR opportunity.
As soon as I heard that news, I couldn't help but think about how incredible of an opportunity that was. Like many other vendors, we frequently have collectors come to our table and ask us what we think a card will grade. We know what we are doing, but we still don't have the time or equipment to give you a surefire answer. For only $10, would it be worth having a professional look at it?
We decided we wanted to test that theory. We ripped a case of 2021-22 Donruss Basketball and had planned to send a lot of the base rookies to ISA at the Bee Sports Labor Day Card Fest in Shipshewana, IN. We had accrued several other raw cards we decided to include in the lot we sent in. I want to say we sent in around 30 cards to ISA for the $10 RCR opportunity. We got 19 10s back.
Through the last couple months, we have sent 22 ISA 10s.
The first round included 6 ISA 10s
The second round included 13 ISA 10s
These are pictured below.
We had 3 other ISA 10s included in various orders. They all came back PSA 10s.
We have sent 22 ISA 10s to PSA.
21/22 of those submissions came back PSA 10.
Now that PSA prices are down, why use ISA $10 opportunity?
Short answer: Time
Let's say the PSA turnaround at the new low price point is 3 months at $18 each.
(I know there is a $15 service right now - that is temporary)
Let's say I send 100 cards. That's $1800
If I send 100 cards in and get 60 PSA 10s and 40 PSA 9s
Most 9s will be selling not far away from cost (at least with the modern stuff we send on a normal submission). I would have 40 of them. I would have had inventory sitting at PSA for 3 months with little to no growth in value.
If I send those 100 cards to ISA for their $10 RCR opportunity, I am in at $1000.
I get the 60 10s and send those to PSA. I am not at $2080 total.
Yes, I am paying $280 more by doing this, BUT...
All of those 9s that I couldn't sell while they sat at PSA for 3 months, I can sell at the same show I did the RCR. I strongly believe that I could sell those ISA 9s for near raw and make up the $280 and roll that into significantly more over 3 months.
A couple conclusions to draw from this article:
ISA Grading is extremely similar to PSA Grading in terms of the quality of grading.
The $10 RCR opportunity has value.
ISA 10s (whether slabbed or RCR), in my opinion, are currently extremely undervalued due to the fact that I am confident they have a significant chance to cross to a PSA 10.
If you are looking to move some stuff quickly this weekend, we will be buying ISA 10s at this weekend's show in Shipshewana. Our intention will be to send them to PSA the following week. I can't help but think that the future of ISA is bright. Their slabs are undervalued right now, but if they can continue to put out a product as strong as they are right now, the value difference between an ISA 10 and a PSA 10 should shrink.