On the Way Down

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So we have covered the ins and outs of quite a few trade styles and ways to trade over the past couple of weeks and that’s a great start but by now you may be wondering “How do I make all these cards turn into real profit?”  Well that is exactly what I will be covering this week, from knowing how to make most for your cards to when to sell out and when to hold.  Knowing how to trade is only half the battle, profiting can be just as involved and skillful as the trades themselves.

There are many different ways to approach Magic from a money making perspective. The first widely used method is E-bay or other online auction sites.  This allows you to set the price or minimum you need for your cards but also has an attached fee for their services.  Typically a card on E-bay will sell between 50-80% of its retail price on major websites which leaves plenty of room still to profit.  I have given up doing E-bay sales myself due mostly to the ever increasing fees and hassle of constant e-mails informing me of problems.  I was finding myself using a significant portion of my time I could spend otherwise furthering profits wasted behind a keyboard for 4-6 hours some days.  However this does not mean E-bay is not a great tool that should be utilized if you have the time to devote and don’t mind the fees through E-bay and Paypal.

Beyond E-bay but still in the cyber world you have buy lists from websites such as Starcity, Channel Fireball, CardKingdom and countless more offering sometimes close to retail for particular cards they may be short stocked on.  This is the ideal form for quick cash if you have a large collection and don’t need to move a lot of stock right away.  Most cards will not be above the line you may be seeking for margins, but as long as there’s a few (and you have a good stock of these in demand cards) you can make good money.  For those with smaller collections or just starting out who may not have a lot of money cards that sell well it may be best to stick to sites such as E-bay so as not to lose too much.  Buy lists average at about 30-50% of a cards value. Some sites have higher or lower numbers depending on the quantity in stock and how they run their business model.  At times however when a card is in high demand (Stoneforge Mystic, Swords) the buy price will hit 80-90% of the retail value leaving you with a great deal of profit.

If you are able to travel to major events, one of the most profitable ways to cash out is at the vendor’s booths at Grand Prix’s.  Sitting down with a dealer can be a daunting task the first couple of times but when you travel enough and start recognizing faces and people the process becomes much more streamlined. The key here is to not be a pushover. Granted you can’t be unreasonable either but you can always say no if a number is too low.  They are used to it and they will move on. Never sell a card for less than what you paid for it under most circumstances (rotation, dead deck, etc.).  Letting the dealer know you will take whatever price they offer will in some cases make them lower their price.  On the other hand being unreasonable about your price’s is not in your best interest either. They are not going to pay you what Starcity sells it for…no one is.  You have to accept you will not be getting top dollar, that is part of the territory of being a backpack dealer, as long as you’re making your margins: move it and move on.

One important point to make when working with dealers is negotiation.  They may offer a price that is slightly lower than what you want for the card and haggling is acceptable.  A great example of this was the Gideon’s I picked up in last week’s trade.  The buy price at one of the dealer’s who I enjoy working with was $22. Now this was a fine number considering the card regularly sells for $25 on E-bay, but was not quite what I wanted. I asked for $24, he thought for a moment and pulled them out.  This may not seem like a huge gain but if you can manage an extra 10-15 dollars each time you sit down it adds up over time.  This does not mean you should haggle with every price (that will just be tiring for both of you and cause you to lose business in the end) but the higher end or in demand cards are worth it.

The last and most crucial point to coming out ahead at events is learning buy lists.  You do not need to memorize every card on there as most are far lower than what you want to sell them for. Knowing the cards with good margins (80-90% of retail) can be a great boon when you hit the trade floors seeking maximum value. In Atlanta the big card for me was Sarkhan Vol, few people realized his value and subsequently I profited greatly. I was regularly picking them up for $3-$5 as most people assumed they were a dead card that saw no play and was worthless.  What they forgot was the casual market appeal, which is common in cards such as Planeswalkers and flashy creatures or spells.  On one of the buy lists they had him marked at 8 and I was able to talk him to 9 meaning not only did I make a great sale I was literally turning 3 dollars worth of cards into 9 instantly.  Knowing these prices can be a great boon to your arsenal when attempting to value trade.

When attending major events it can also be a good idea to know what your local stores stock looks like, such as if they are running low or out of a particular card that is hot in Standard right now. It can be a great opportunity to not only pick those cards up but also build a good relationship with your store which may in some cases make you their go to guy when stock is running low allowing you a premium on your cards as well as a local outlet when you need money.

On the topic of local players it can also be wise to know what they are seeking whether for trade or buy.  Providing hard to find cards to your local area can help you corner that market as well as infuse your meta with cards that would otherwise be difficult to find.  Be sure however if you are doing cash deals to speak with your local card shop owner as to not step on any toes.  Some will be ok with you buying and selling in their shop especially when they may be out of a card. Others are not ok with this idea and it is best to respect these wishes.  This again comes back to making a good relationship with your shop owner, if they know that you can help restock them they will be less likely to be bothered by the transactions you partake in.

The Attitude

Keeping a good reputation is key when dealing with a multitude of different people.  Keep in mind each person you trade with/sell to has their own agenda whether it is getting the cards for their deck or profiting from the cards they buy. Working together will not only ensure future transactions but also keep you with a plethora of options when seeking to unload cards for cash. Try not to burn bridges, be considerate and kind in trades and sales and make yourself known for being a genuinely good person. It’s a lot easier to make money if people are seeking you out for trades at events rather than having to always search for a trade partner.

Good communication and genuine manners can carry you a long ways in this game and not only make trades easier but sales as well. When dealing with vendors it is great to be recognized. Let them know what your doing as it will streamline the process and allow for idle chit chat while your selling. They have their job to do as well and let me tell you sitting there buying cards for 8-12 hours during a day can put some stress on you, making it easier on them will only in turn make it easier on you.  This will also benefit you in the long term as vendors will eventually recognize what you need on cards and will not try to give you lowball prices. When I have my binders scoured certain vendors I regularly work with know not to offer me prices that are below 50%. This creates a smoother faster process saving both of you time and putting you back on the trade floor quickly.

Well that’s all for this week, join me next week as I cover the flip side of the coin, buying and the different avenues you can take. Until then keep trading and let me know trough the comments on what you do and don’t like about these articles. I write for you guys so reader input is always welcome. If you have a subject you would like covered or even just a basic idea post it or shoot me a message on Twitter I am always happy to oblige.

Until next week keep on trading.

Ryan Bushard

@CryppleCommand on Twitter.

Posted in Finance, Free InsiderTagged

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