As with any well-designed machine, the gears are what work together to ensure the whole thing keeps going around smoothly. Without anyone else helping to achieve your goal, you will find the grind is slow and tedious. I previously touched on some of the benefits that come along with trade groups, and this week I will be going a little more in depth. This article will be devoted to learning how to create or join a group of like-minded traders. Eventually you will find events to be far more profitable and productive, but also more enjoyable and easier to endure.
A backpack trader comes in many different forms, from the business minded individual such as myself, to the casual hobby trader. Knowing a large diverse group of traders can provide you with many perks not readily available when working solo. As I explained last week travel expenses can become far less of a burden when rooming with others. Not only do rooms become cheaper, they are also far easier to find. Utilizing tools such as Twitter and Facebook, you can place interest in an event, even if alone, to find people to room with. In addition pickups from the airport are cheaper and faster than a shuttle when someone else has driven to the event. All of these things become more plausible the larger your network is, therefore making traveling to events cheaper, easier, and more enjoyable. Besides the obvious benefits, traveling in groups also offers smaller perks such as extra decks in case you decide to play, or at the very least drinking buddies for those nights you just decide to relax.
Rooming with like-minded traders also allows you to diversify your binder before the start of the weekend. Much of your time spent Friday is usually occupied with stock trades and sales. Being able to get some of this out of the way the night before can make your weekend seem like less of a rush. A great example of this occurred at Kansas City, where Kelly and I did some exchanges to even out both wallet and stock. Buying cards off-site is the best way to deal with cash exchanges and rooming with others can provide you the ability to do it away from the site.
One of the biggest advantages I have found the trade group offers is the ability to barter with other traders stock on site. If you for example need card X to square up a trade and your friend has it, he will lend it to you on good faith of return or profit. It’s an unspoken code that traders have among trusted circles but benefits like this can streamline and secure more trades, in the end benefitting all involved. Many times the favor will be repaid later that day, if not the circle will usually square up that evening or at least before the end of the weekend.
In addition to having a good number of trade contacts you also want a diverse group to be able to surround yourself with. Very few traders deal in every type of card and therefore it is helpful to sit in groups that can hit a trade from every angle. I personally deal in lower end casual and EDH rares along with a good selection of foil and foreign cards. I have a limited number of standard and legacy rares, as anyone should, but that is not my primary focus. Sitting near a like-minded group of individuals, who have a vastly different stock of cards, can also help us to redirect trades. One of the first questions I ask people when they sit down to trade with me is what they are looking for. Knowing what each trader is seeking is a great way to know who will find the best deals. If say, someone was looking for Legacy staples I may be able to trade with them and gain some margin but if the person with all the legacy cards can conduct that same trade they can procure far more cards and in turn profit.
So by now you have to be wondering, how do I find this group of traders you speak of? Well it’s not exactly as simple as finding other traders, though that is where it begins. Everyone begins the grind alone, and in a room full of traders this can feel like an overwhelming burden. Who do you trust to not value trade you into oblivion? The real key to finding a solid group is to present yourself to other traders as a knowledgeable and likable individual. Unlike professional players who do not always get to pick who else top eights or wins an event, traders can sculpt and direct the floor in a way to benefit all involved. If you do not present yourself as a knowledgeable individual you will quickly be dismissed, shunned from the group as just another want to be backpack dealer… and let me be the first to say they come in no shortage. Knowing your prices and trends when talking to other backpack dealers can result in a great deal of respect being gained. Respect is truly the key to fitting in with a group of like-minded traders. It may not be gained in one weekend, but over the course of a few events as you become more and more recognizable you will find people welcoming you to the circles. On the same note of respect, you must also show respect for those that have been doing this for a long while. Those of us that have been in the game for a period of time have watched hundreds of traders come and go without fail. The ones that stand out not only have knowledge and intuition but are generally nice people as well. These are people you will be dealing with on a very regular basis so treat them well and the favor will be returned in kind. This does not mean there is no room to joke or poke fun, as with any group of friends prodding will be involved. With time you will become more comfortable with each person, forming long lasting relationships, both in business and friendship.
When you have finally integrated yourself into a good group of traders you will find that trading becomes less of a chore and more of a social activity. Even during the down time, sharing knowledge can prove to be both enjoyable and informing. Information is probably the most important factor in the trade world. Much like having the best deck at a tournament, being the more informed individual can prove to be a huge boon. A key to remember when dealing with other traders is that a contact can be worth more than a binder of cards over the course of your trade life. When trading with other backpack traders be honest up front, trying to value trade with them will prove to not only be extremely risky and dangerous, it can also lose you valuable resources in the end. Even if you manage to grind a few dollars out of the trade, the contact you lose can be far too costly.
The last thing I will cover in this week’s article is probably one of the most important parts of being a floor trader. Directing your trade partners toward a desirable trade can turn out to be a valuable move that will only benefit you in the end. For example, in Indianapolis earlier this month I was directed to a trader by my padawan who had a binder full of cards he undervalued. He was primarily looking for high end legacy cards that I sadly did not have in stock at the time so I was only able to complete a small, though profitable trade. I then found another of my friends on the floor who I knew had these cards in stock and in turn directed him in the gentleman’s direction. After the trade he was more than pleased and wound up on the better end of one of the more lop-sided trades I have ever heard of. He in turn will likely repay the favor later on down the road, whether it be a similar situation or something more direct such as giving me a great deal in a future trade of ours. This circle of cooperation is the key to our success. Much like the professional players, the traders that work together find themselves far ahead of the game than those trying to grind the game solo.
Tracking Our Progress
Not much has changed since last week as far as call shots of mine but a few cards have risen. The first card I will cover this week is Urabrask, the Hidden. I have been carefully watching this Praetor for a few weeks now; he has finally begun to see some play, therefore driving his price up. Last week on MODO he could be acquired for approximately two tickets, this has quickly risen to nearly six tickets in a very short period of time. We have just seen the tip of the iceberg as far as I am concerned, picking him up even at the current price tag seems like a solid move.
With the fall of Caw Blade, Consecrated Sphinx has risen over the past few weeks, now sold out on many major websites. Again I feel as if we have just seen the beginning for this powerhouse so get on the train while you still can.
With the announcement of Grim Lavamancer’s return expect a small decline in his price, one which you can use to your advantage. Given some peoples obsession with good art, pick up his old form for less than eight when you can, many people believe his reprint will tank his value therefore lowering their price. If you can acquire them now I expect his price to remain stagnant, if not rise once the Summer of Red begins.
Well that’s all I have for this week, join me next week when I cover in depth the way to approach the trade floor. There is an art when it comes to knowing where to be at different times during the day which can save you precious time and resources. Until then remember, forming a solid group of trade partners and friends is one of the most, if not the most important factor in being a successful floor trader.