Those of you who have been around the financial world long enough have undoubtedly bought and resold collections before. It can be one of the most profitable ways to deal in Magic cards, but it also one of the most time-consuming.
In my experience, buying collections has been very feast or famine. I’ve scored some sweet deals before but I’ve also slogged through a number of collection that are usually hugely overpriced and therefore undesirable. Because of this I have a general rule of ignoring collection sells, though I do keep my eye out from time to time. So it’s understandable that when I saw what looked like a reasonable Craiglist ad I was at least intrigued.
The description was fairly typical of all Magic ads online but contained this one little sentence that grabbed my attention.
“Priced these out at $80 Star City buylist prices but I need cash so I’m willing to take $70 in person.”
The reason that buying collections online is often so tedious is because most people either just make an arbitrarily large number or look at SCG retail prices of a few cards and go from there. It’s so much work to get them to a number you can profit off of that it quickly becomes not worth your time. Seeing someone already working on buylist prices, on the other hand, is something we can work with.
I called him and found out that the seller was actually a friend of mine (Russ) who I played with a year or two back before he left the game when his son was born. I bought his collection then and was able to build my EDH deck from the profits I made grinding out the collection.
It turns out he didn’t actually completely leave the game, though he stopped doing FNM. Instead, he was designing his own block! When I met with him to buy the cards, I took some time looking over it, and it turned out to be pretty cool (you can find it here). I’m no designer, but I do think I’m pretty decent on the development end of things, so he and I were able to talk about his set for awhile and catch up, which was nice.
I bring all this up because it demonstrates a few things. First, Magic’s an awesome game that helps you reconnect with old friends and other sentimental business like that. Secondly, by establishing an actual relationship and having a real conversation, the deal turned out even better for me when he threw in a foil Angelic Destiny to the pile. In turn, I gave him the $80 because I knew I was still making money on the deal and wanted to return the favor (also I only had 20s in my wallet).
Now, I’m not suggesting by any means that you pretend to be friends with people to make money off of them. The very first bullet point I ever wrote regarding Magic was “it’s about making friends, not matching dollar signs,” and I believe that more than ever today. But I tell you that story as an example of how important developing sound connections is in this industry. Were I just some unknown and unfriendly cash machine, I would never get to see Russ’ set or get extra value thrown into my purchase.
Once the collection was in hand, the real work began. Among the highlights of what I got.
Foil Angelic Destiny
2x Birthing Pod
Foil Blade Splicer
And another stack of $2-4 cards (retail), including some nice Uncommons like Strangleroot Geist and Beast Within, and then another couple dozen true bulk rares. The money cards came out to about $75-80 on SCG’s buylist, though they didn’t have everything listed that I got in the deal.
All in all, pretty decent. Now I could have sent this off to another buylist and made a little bit of money, and if there’s nothing wrong if that’s all you want to do when you buy collections.
Instead I chose to take this box to FNM and try to trade out of it before I shipped it off. After all, there’s nothing wrong with just rolling purchases into your trade binder to increase your power on the trade floor, though in general I like to keep collection flipping separate in order to be more clear on my in/out price with it.
So I took the box of cards to FNM and traded out of it separately from my regular binder to see if I could grind some of the lower-value stuff into things I can buylist easier. This allows you to move a few less expensive cards like Kessig Wolf Run that have good value on the trade floor but bad cash value to dealers. By trading some of the extra stuff like that from the box, I ended up with a much better box to actually vendor.
Now we come to the selling, which is where I’m at now. I have a few options. I can ship it off to a good buylist (initial favorite is Card Kingdom, but their foil prices don’t actually exist on the website). I checked with my local dealer and he didn’t need any of the stock from the box, so I’m trying to figure out my best avenue for selling.
That’s where you guys come in. I have a few dealers I’ve worked with in the past and gotten fair deals from, but I’m encountering the “no one wants all of my cards” problem. Either stores don’t need the foils or they don’t need some other pieces I’m looking to sell. Having gotten in at $80 and then traded some of it for value, I’m hoping to get $125 out of the fewest cards possible and add the remainder afterward to my usual trade binder.
What are your best selling outlets, and how do you think I should go about cashing out of what I have?
The reason I’m going to come out well in this, besides the social reasons I talked about above, is that our baseline was SCG prices. In my experience, that’s the single best way to profit while being honest with your sellers. You can show them the SCG buylist, which is the biggest name in the business, and offer to give them SCG prices on the spot and save them the trouble of shipping. This works for them because it’s easy cash and most people either don’t know how or just don’t care to scrape around the Internet for better buylists, something I don’t have a problem doing.
I hope that you guys are able to use this recent acquisition to see some of the behind-the-scenes tricks and details of the collection-flipping process, and let me know what you think I should do with the stack of cards I have left!
Thanks for reading,
@Chosler88 on Twitter
POSTSCRIPT — Inspired by my success with this collection, I decided to take up another Craigslist ad of a family looking to sell a box with a few decks in it. They only wanted $25, so I figured the price was low enough to make the 45-minute round trip to check it out. Of course, when I got there I found a Tempered Steel, a Dragonskull Summit and 10 bulk rares waiting on me. Sadly, I had to pass, even at the $25 mark.
Like I said, feast or famine. Hope I have better luck next-go round!