Endless Horizons – Opening and Creating Opportunity
In the past several months I’ve committed myself to becoming the supplier for my friends for any card they may need. I’ve done this through many means, but as anyone who does a large amount of trading in one spot knows, eventually the supply dries up. Packs are won and bought, and occasionally a new person wanders into the store you frequent with a binder or box of old stuff and “wanted to come check it out”, which brings a spark of life for a moment, but at the end of the day, the pond is still stagnant. This is where I find it’s important to expand beyond your local area. I’m lucky enough to currently live in Southern California. I can think of at least four shops that are all within a 90 minute drive, and all of them are decently competitive with a large amount of people to trade with. The problem is, almost no one at those shops goes to any of the others, and their trading economy is stifled because of this. This is one of the best situations for a savvy and profit minded trader, and a great way to become well known as a trader who can fill orders in your region while building your reputation. The easiest way to do this is to scout an area for a couple of weeks, and get a feel for what’s popular there. If you notice that they lack a certain format, ask why. For this example we will use EDH.
You walk into a shop you’ve been to a couple of times. People tend to show up early, and stay late, sometimes playing their standard decks. You ask people if they have an EDH deck, and get puzzled or blank stares back, and one of them finally says “What’s EDH?” This is the perfect chance for you to open a new market for yourself. By introducing them to a new format for them to play casually, you give yourself the chance to trade with every person in that shop in a new market. Sure, some of them will have the generals, and other cards to help them build their deck, but chances are you stand to be the primary source of EDH cards. As the person that introduced them to the format, you’re going to be the person they turn to first for more information, and for the cards they need. You can expand this beyond just EDH as well. With so many different formats available to magic, there should be at least one new market in each area that you can open up. Some areas will be more willing to try a new format; some areas will take some time.
Your reputation is important to expand as well. At some point in almost every trade, I ask the person I’m trading with if they are looking for anything in specific that I may be able to help them with. Through the course of conversation, I ask them what they are playing for the day, what they might be missing, how it’s performed, and how to make it better. With this information I can offer more ideas and consequently more cards from my binder to help them out. If they name something that they are looking for and I don’t have it, I write it down in my trade journal, make a note to let them know when I expect to have the card, and get their name, e-mail, and phone number. Once I’ve found someone that has the card they are looking for, I’ll try to contact them to be sure they are still looking for it. If it’s a niche item with some value (5 dollars or more) I will only attempt to make the trade once I know they are still looking for it. If it’s something I feel comfortable having with me even if they don’t need it, I’ll attempt to trade for it anyways. This helps to protect me from picking up oddball cards that are going to sit in my binder if they don’t need it anymore, and help to reinforce with my buyer that I’ll go out of my way for him to get the item he’s looking for. Doing this you will put yourself in a middle man situation. This gives you the opportunity to trade your items with profit in mind, which you should to help cover the expenses of travel, but you can usually trade at a slightly higher fee, which most people will be fine with because you’ve proven yourself reliable, and able to fill their orders time and time again.
I cannot stress how important networking is to the trader that works a region instead of just a shop. Building your contacts up will save you time and money since you can call up your contacts in one area are see if they have the cards you’re looking for to trade in another, but we will cover that topic in depth another day. For now, here is what you should be focused on.
- Identify shops within your comfort zone of driving distances
- Spend some time there, get your name out with trades, and identify missing markets.
- Open those missing or weak markets up, and have supplies on hand to get it started.
- Start cross trading between areas. Find what cards are scarce in some areas, and plentiful in the next.
- Build up your contacts and network with everyone you can.
That’s all for today, remember that the seeds of today are tomorrows harvest. So plant a big field and enjoy your future success.
Until next week,
MTGstephenmoss on twitter