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Finding the Right Audience

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So you’ve got this trading thing down. You’ve learned all the techniques for gaining value from trades, you’re up-to-date on all pricing trends, and you know exactly cards are going to be good after rotation.

Believe it or not, this doesn’t mean you’ve “made it.” In fact, it means very little unless your goal is to just hoard cards. I’ll assume your goal is to make a profit, which means that no matter the size of your collection, all you’ve done is take the first step.

I’ve talked before about The Myth of Making Profits, and today I want to share a few stories that demonstrate what making the right contacts can do for you.

It’s no secret that succeeding at Magic means you need good networking skills. After all, it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to stay up on tech when you can rely on a few friends to loan you cards when you need them. But networking extends to trading, and if you don’t spend time creating and sustaining a good network, then you’re costing yourself heavily when it comes time to cash out.

I’ve been on both sides of this coin, and I hope that sharing some of my experiences will demonstrate the importance of building a network, and how to go about doing that.

Saved while selling staples

Last Extended season, I thought I was running good. I had a list of cards from Lorwyn block to pitch before rotation, and I even wrote a column about what to sell. I was personally sitting on about 20 Reflecting Pools I expected a good price for.

I planned on selling off my staples at the upcoming PTQ here in Oklahoma. We get one PTQ in the state per season, and we have one dealer show up. Even though buy price were slowly dropping across the board, I decided I was still better off selling to the dealer in person than ship them off online. My reasoning is that I would save on shipping and the hassle of mailing cards.

I got the PTQ, took my binder to the dealer, and disaster struck. He informed me that, despite his policy of buying all cards, he just wasn’t interested in Extended stock, including Legacy staples like Thoughtseize.

At this point, I’m in a pretty rough spot. I can either commit to trading off the cards, which would give me more trade fodder to work with but would be much more effort since it’s not easy trading off rotating cards for a decent price. On the other hand, I can decide to sell my cards online, and deal with the fact that I lost a good 15-20% in the weeks of waiting for the PTQ.

That’s a sad story (trust me, there were tears), but fate decided to cut me a break that day (probably in repayment for my scrubbing out of the tournament). A few months back, another friend of mine had hooked up a ride to a PTQ in Wichita, and she got me invited along by more or less playing the girl card. All of this was fine by me, as it was a free place to stay.

I kept in touch with our ride (Joe Naseef, or @Sgt_Guido) after the trip, becoming friends and sharing deck ideas and the like. After telling him at the PTQ about my predicament, it turned out that he knew (the now SCG-famous) Chris VanMeter, who was able to buy my Extended cards off of me. I took a hit on the prices of the cards, but it was about what I would get online, minus the shipping and the hassle.

It was a reasonably happy ending to a situation that could have potentially cost me a lot of profits, and it never would have happened without creating a network of Magic players and traders.

This story isn’t all that unique among Magic players, but the takeaway is that I was forming connections with not just other Magic players, but also a customer. After dealing with Chris, I know I now have another person I can go to if I’m looking to unload stock.

What’s a Beta Dual worth, anyway?

This is really a tale of two different networks. You guys might remember Underground Sea Guy (he’s the guy who found Duals and Powers for $20).

At the time he came into his new expensive card lot, he was just happy to have them. After a few weeks, the newness wore off, and he started talking about selling them. The problem? He has a smaller group of players and traders he knows and has no contacts in the dealer industry. I tried to convince him to sell his lot to me, but he wanted to take it to a Convention he was attending the next month. Rather than give up, I told him that if he didn’t like what he heard from the dealer to remember that I was interested.

After coming into his collection, he looked at all his cards at their Star City Games price. I knew better. His perceived price of the collection was nothing like a dealer would offer him, and I banked on that fact. When he came back after only selling some of his collection, because (surprise!) the dealer didn’t offer him what he thought they should be worth, I jumped at the chance to get in. He needed the money from selling the cards, but he was out of options of where to sell.

After pricing out his collection and letting him know what he could expect from an online dealer regarding the condition of the cards, he decided that it was worth taking less, since I had the cash ready to hand to him. We all know that Cash is King, and he decided it wasn’t worth dealing with dealers.

Now, I could have eaked out profit selling the cards online, but where Underground Sea Guy was out of options, I had a network of traders that I knew would be interested. Within 24 hours of picking up the cards, including a Beta Savannah, I had shipped the lot for double what I paid for it, and much more than I would have got from an online dealer. Something like this would never have happened if I hadn’t developed a strong network of collections across the state.

Making your own contacts

How to go about making these contacts when you have none?

The first thing is to become very friendly with the dealers in your area. The owner of my local shop trusts me enough to allow me to openly sell cards in his shop. But I didn’t get to this point overnight. I’ve taken the time to get to know him on a personal level and have discussed my involvement in dealing cards on the side.

I understand this won’t work everywhere, but if you take the time to make a personal connection with as many people in the business as you can, then you’ll be surprised by how easy it becomes to move cards when you need to or gain privileges that aren’t the norm.

Prediction Tracker
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The big news from the Prediction Tracker this week is the emergence of Block decks. Tempered Steel was the big winner, which is a card we’ve been talking about to watch for awhile. It and Puresteel Paladin look like solid options for investing going forward.

I’m working on a list of some of the best calls made via the Prediction Tracker so far, and chances are you’ll be able to find it in the QS Newsletter in your inbox in a few weeks.

Thanks,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

Corbin Hosler

Corbin Hosler is a journalist living in Norman, Oklahoma (also known as the hotbed of Magic). He started playing in Shadowmoor and chased the Pro Tour dream for a few years, culminating in a Star City Games Legacy Open finals appearance in 2011 before deciding to turn to trading and speculation full-time. He writes weekly at QuietSpeculation.com and biweekly for LegitMTG. He also cohosts Brainstorm Brewery, the only financial podcast on the net. He can best be reached @Chosler88 on Twitter.

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