As traders looking to expand our bargaining turf, we have to worry about Public Relations a bit more than the usual person who looks to trade at his or her convenience. Were trying to build our own little empire of cardboard, people, and trading. I would even say that we are the step between trade table grinder and shop owner.
Most of us don’t have the capital or stock to open up our own shop, our very own Kelly Reid notwithstanding, but we are looking to be more than another fish in the pond, or shark in the ocean as the case may be. Because of this, we need to express concern about the character we portray just as much as the shopkeeper; after all, we have our reputation as well.
Things to do
- Care about personal appearance. Every time I walk into a shop for the first time, the first thing I do is look for binders that are out and open for business. After that, I see the person associated with the binder. If they look like someone respectable, generally friendly, and have an open demeanor, I will probably go and introduce myself to them before most others in the shop, and see if there is business to be done.
- Take care of yourself. Before you enter a new trade area, make sure you’re smelling as good as you look. We all know that it’s no secret that large magic events are known for their “Nerd Funk”, or other colorful words. Don’t be a contributing factor to it! Smell is a very big factor of first impressions, and is one of the longest lasting pieces in a person’s memory.
- Smile Discretely. This is a simple one that most people forget about. It’s a common sales tactic to be sure your smiling when you start your conversation. Don’t force it. If all you can do is manage a friendly looking grin or smirk, that’s better than being a stone faced or unhappy looking new guy. There is a time and a place for the stone face, but this isn’t it.
- Talk about other things. Make yourself seem like a regular person. Many players who play Magic also enjoy computer or console games. Enjoy playing Starcraft 2? Someone else in that shop probably does as well. Perhaps you’re amazing at fighting games, or first person shooters. Don’t be afraid to branch out from Magic, it puts people at ease, and will help open up doors to other trades that might not have otherwise been there.
- Be Energetic. I think we would all like to trade with someone who is excited about the cards, right? Well, be excited about your trades, and it will transfer over to your trading partner. We’re not saying so be bouncing off the walls and annoying, just be happy to be making a deal. After all, were here to make money, and who doesn’t like doing that?
If you manage to pick up a bad reputation in the areas you’re attempting to expand into, even the most casual player will scoff at your attempts to make a deal. Your time and energy is just as important as the next player, so how do traders ensure a good image? It’s easy enough to start off in the right direction, but it’s even easier for you to tarnish your image before you even make your first trade in a new area. We have you covered.
Things to not do
- Don’t be that guy who shows up, talks to no one except to trade, and then leaves suddenly. You’re looking to expand your market, and doing a “hit and run” like that will only build yourself a bad reputation. Act shady and people will think you are.
- Don’t brag about the trades you made and how high you came up on it in a new shop. This was a lesson I taught myself the hard way. It discourages repeat business, and you have to really work hard to put yourself back in the good graces of people. You’re a new person at this shop, just trying to establish yourself. Learn from my mistake!
- Don’t disrespect the shop. Your LGS may be nicer, bigger, have more people, buy cards at a higher price, and just be 100% more awesome, but that doesn’t give you the right to badmouth the shop you’re in. Many players feel a sense of loyalty to the shop they play at week after week, and you will lose out on trading if people catch you saying something bad about their home turf.
- Don’t selective trade. The kid sitting in the corner with his brother may not know exactly how to play; they may not have legal decks, or even sleeves. That doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity there for you. Introduce yourself, ask if they want any help, and maybe even toss them each a couple of bulk rares that you haven’t been able to move. I promise you that you will be the hero for these kids and someone else probably with at least some kind of binder, will notice. Maybe it was one of the local better player’s siblings. Random acts of kindness pay off.
For some of us this list may seem like common sense, but sometimes people forget how to behave socially in their own atmosphere. With that in mind, I will continue to touch on the philosophy of expanding your trading region, building your reputation, and hopefully helping some people develop into stronger traders, and better people.
Feedback encouraged, if I need to go into more detail in some areas, or you have a specific question, let me know!
Remember, karma comes around, do something nice this week at your LGS,
MTGstephenmoss on twitter