Last week I covered the different ways to turn your cards into cash at a premium, everything from E-bay to major events. This week we will be looking at the flip side of that coin, how to get the largest stock for your dollar without breaking the bank. Similar to selling there are a multitude of options when looking to put cash forward for cards and I will be covering the major ones in this article as well as how to net the highest margins possible.
Similar to selling, a great way to obtain cards and collections can be E-bay. Last week I mentioned that I usually don’t sell much on E-bay due to the fees that you must endure from both Paypal and E-bay itself. When buying, I find E-bay and other auction sites to be a great boon. I have found some of the best deals on E-bay and being on this side of the transaction means you incur none of the costs that come from selling cards. You do still need to be wary of the shipping costs as some buyers will sell cards at virtually nothing just to get them to show up as the cheapest option but when investigated further you may find heavily overpriced shipping making up the difference.
With that small warning in mind, once you have a handle for E-bay it can be a very useful tool in your arsenal of money making ventures. I have picked up collections before for virtually nothing just to find hundreds of dollars worth of cards inside. Though some may be a risk, anytime you can find cards at a reasonable bulk rate (mine is 4 USD per 1k) it is virtually guaranteed you will at least break even so anything you find is pure profit. In addition to bulk collections from people looking to get out of the game, singles are also cheaper than what would be listed at a retail site, in some cases lower than the cash value you can get for them. A great example of this was a purchase I made about a year ago when the new Extended format was announced. At the time the filter lands from LWR block were going for a few bucks each and I had found a retailer on E-bay that was selling Foil Chinese playsets at 5-10 dollars. With the announcement of the coming rotation in mind I bought up almost all of them they had and sat on them for a month or so. After the new format had been played a little more and the filters were seeing play I took them to the vendors at my next major even and unloaded them at 12-16 each, netting me a healthy profit and nearly covering my weekend's cost in one fell swoop.
Deals like this can often be found on E-bay by looking for incorrect listings as well. Not everyone has the best spelling and sometimes a typo can mean the difference between that playset of Tarmogoyf going for 30 dollars when it should have been 150+ easily. The major thing to remember when dealing with auction sites is seller’s rating and the accuracy of the listing. Always read the entire auction before bidding as some sellers may have some fairly shady tactics. One listing you should never bid on are lots, though they seem enticing listing the possibility of power realistically you will pay 10-20 dollars for a pile of trash unsure if the power listed is ever actually sold. Once you deal on e-bay enough these things will become second nature and you will find yourself able to spot the hot buys and easily skip over the chaff.
Another great online tool when it comes to acquiring collections is craigslist.com and other similar “garage-sale” sites as I like to call them. Unlike E-bay, Craigslist is typically used to scour your surrounding area for collections that may be profitable. This usually means there will be no shipping involved but instead a drive to scour through and pick up said collections. Watching for collections to come online that appear to be worth investigating can be well worth your time once you figure out what key features to look for. Typically signs such as mention of the years that the person played or the deck they had together can let you know up front what cards they may have in thier collection. I encourage people to message the seller with questions to ensure you are not driving an hour just to come home empty handed. Unlike E-bay, craigslist usually involves a single buyer and seller which can allow you to negotiate a little bit easier without worrying about being outbid if you act fast. The key is to lock in a deal or at least a tentative date to inspect the goods as quickly as possible to keep other potential buyers at bay. As with E-bay watch out for mis-listings when scouring craigslist, typing in words such as magik or particular sets may net you a gem collection if you are willing to put the time in. Purchasing collections is the fastest way to both build your personal collection and at the same time profit off of the cards you do not need or want.
Another way to net some solid collections is to let the players at your local store know you are buying cards. They may not take you up on the offer themselves but many of the players may have friends who have played in the past and at some point may look to unload their cards. If the player does not have the money to buy out their friends they may refer them to you, this is especially true if you give them some incentive such as a 10% kickback or similar perks. The more people that know you are buying the better in this game as you can always turn a collection into quick cash if need be to then obtain the next one. Keeping this cycle going is the most important step in becoming a truly successful backpack dealer. You will watch your collection and profits rise the more you make and in turn reinvest over time. Starting with a few hundred dollars and the correct mindset you can find yourself netting enough money to pay for your trips and fund your hobby altogether after a while.
Local players are yet another way to locate inexpensive cards. If a player needs money for any reason whether it be in or out of the game it is good to let them know you are always interested in buying. Offering prices slightly lower than an online retailer’s buylist can be ideal for both parties providing them with cash up front, no hassle and allowing you to make profit the next time you travel to a major event. You have to be wary of your local shop’s policy regarding the buying and selling of cards as I mentioned in last week’s article, stepping on toes is less than ideal. However if you have been following my articles and have spoken to your local store owner offering a compromise to help them profit as well then they may also allow you to do small cash transactions for the local regulars as well. In addition they may even send business your way if someone is looking to sell a stock of cards to them that they are either overstocked on or just not interested in, giving them your contact information can be another added resource in your money making arsenal. This can also work the other way in many cases where someone may approach you looking to sell cards and perhaps you just don’t have enough at the moment to give them the price they are seeking. Sending them to the store can further your relationship with the store and in some cases net you a possible kickback for the reference. If there is one thing I have learned in the trade business it is that things work much smoother if everyone who is looking to profit works together. I have yet to witness a successful business model that cuts everyone else out, it just doesn’t happen. You need people to help you and the easiest way to gain that help and relationship is to help them profit as well.
Though there are certainly more ways to pick up collections these are the most commonly utilized. Other things to watch out for are auctions and garage sales, though far less certain, sometimes you may strike a goldmine if you have the time to put into searching. The key is perseverance and I have found over the many years I have been doing this that a constant watchful eye is necessary to ensure you don’t miss out on some great deals. Scouring the websites and local areas for collections and good deals should become routine if you become serious about profiting. As with any routine it may take a while to get used to but after you get the hang of searching it becomes second nature and you will find yourself using less and less spare time as it becomes a habit. I don’t know exactly what I will be writing about next week, I may go back to the individual trade articles or I may cover the new set in detail for both callshots and busts. If anyone has any suggestions or even just a comment on this week or any weeks articles leave them in the comment section or contact me on Twitter.
Until next time remember everything looks perfect from far away.
@CryppleCommand on Twitter