Insider: (Part 2) Collection Flipping – A Case Study

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I hope you all enjoyed the Prerelease! I wish I could say the same. I went 8-2 on the day and enjoyed it to an extent, but overall I was just disappointed. With no removal in the format, bombs just felt completely unbeatable, both mine and my opponents’. Not a great sealed format, to say the least. And, if you took my advice on Zealous Conscripts, I think you’ll be doing good. It’s already tripled in price since I wrote about it, and has lots more room to grow.

But that’s not why we’re here.

Almost a month ago I wrote about a collection I had recently acquired. Flipping collections isn’t something I’m new to by any means, but it’s something I don’t do often, since it oftentimes can be hard to find collections worth buying and sorting through all the issues where people are looking for retail from their collection.

That said, there’s money to be made in collection flipping, and I advocate you know how to do it in case the opportunity arises. That’s basically what happened with me, where I found a deal too good to pass up. I got the group of cards at a little below Star City Games buy prices, which is a good deal for me since I can move them for higher than that with some extra work.

Now, I would usually just flip the cards and be done with it, but I wanted to try something a little different this time. Instead of immediately, or even close to immediately selling out, I kept the cards in the box I got them in and began to trade out of it. I’m back this week to update you guys with how the exercise has gone for me.

How I did it

If you’ll remember from the previous article, there were some goodies in the collection, namely some nice cards like Thrun and a few other medium-price things, as well as a bunch of nice Uncommons and a bunch of bulk rares.

I kept the cards from this collection separate from my “regular” trade binder for the purpose of this exercise. The goal was to see if holding onto the cards and trading them out would yield enough money to make it worth the extra effort. Now, I expect to make value out of any grouping of cards I have if I’m trying to do so, the question here is whether or not it was enough value to justify keeping my cash tied up.

So with that goal in mind, I set out to trade out of the box in addition to my regular binder. I won’t lie, it felt a little Pack-To-Power-ish, even though I didn’t keep it totally separate as you would with P2P. Still, though, I needed some rules for myself if I wanted to get accurate results from this little experiment.

Here are the basic rules I set:

-       Give my trade partners the box first and tell them to pull out anything they needed. This kept the box from being an afterthought after people have gone through my usual binder.

-       Make one trade. I didn’t force myself to trade only from the box, which could have stifled potential deals. Instead, I included all the cards, and replaced the value in the box by trading with myself (my other binder) and putting most of the profits back into the box. This means if I made, for example, $10 in value on a particular trade, I put 50-75 percent, or $6-7, of it back into the box.

-       This method allowed me to keep most of the value gained “in-box” rather than just added to my usual binder. This is vital to the cashing out process.

-       Trading with myself. This was actually a pretty nice perk to this system. It allowed me to use both groups of cards for trades while still accomplishing my goal. It also let me move stuff like Rootbound Crags into my usual binder since Standard stuff will trade well, and move dealer bait like Dragonmaster Outcast from my regular binder to the box. Stuff like the Outcast will almost never find a trade anyway and will eventually be sold off to a dealer, so I’m able to allocate my profits to the box while also helping out the liquidity of my usual trade binder. I was very happy with how this worked out.

So, How Did I Do?

Well, this is the question, and one I was certainly excited to find out for myself. I haven’t cashed out all the cards yet so we don’t have a number set in stone. I plan on working through the process of physically selling the cards in the next week, and using that experience as the basis for the third and final part of this series, so any suggestions you all have there would be greatly appreciated.

But just because I haven’t sold out yet doesn’t mean we can’t evaluate roughly where we’re at. Remember, when I first got the collection (for $80), I was confident that I could make an easy $30-50 out of flipping it. Throughout the process of trading from the box, I was able to move some of the true bulk rares out, which is obviously a huge win to trade them at a dollar into something with actual buy value. This alone helped to turn more profits, not to mention gaining any significant value off of the bigger cards.

The uncommons also were a big factor. Many people don’t even carry these in their trade binders, but there were two very good deals for me that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had Beast Withins and Stangleroot Geist. Even if I’m just trading these away at retail and not making any “value” in the trade, turning four Beast Withins that I can sell for $.50 apiece into an $8 card I can get $5 out of is a big deal.

A quick flip through the box tells me I’ve been able to make a lot of money grinding it out on the trade tables. Just offhand I could tell that I’m up a Thrun and 5 Primordial Hydras, which if you didn’t know are at least a $5 bill retail. There are some other decent dealer bait cards like Braid of Fire and Elvish Piper.


Just by eyeballing what I have, I would say I at least doubled my profits on this collection by keeping the cards to trade for a few weeks. I don’t think you should let them rot in your collection for a huge amount of time, especially if you’re looking to move Standard cards like Thruns, but giving it a few weeks appears to have paid off very well. We won’t know for sure until I actually sell out, but it’s definitely been a tactic I consider a success.

In addition to the monetary benefit, it’s also helped me get over my irrational fear of tying cash up in cards. I used to feel almost guilty for spending cash on cards and not immediately recouping it, almost like I was scared the bottom would drop out. But this experience is looking like it’s going to pay off very well for me, and I have to say I would suggest you give it a shot the next time you come across a collection you’re looking to flip.

This whole thing also got me back into looking for more cash opportunities, and I was able to pick up a foil Snapcaster Mage, foil Stoneforge Mystic, and a NM- Wasteland for $72 cash for the three. I’ve rolled these into the box, which means I’m $152 into it, and excited to see what I end up making on the deal.

Come back next week, when I walk through the process of finding a buyer and whether or not to split up the cards when selling. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

3 thoughts on “Insider: (Part 2) Collection Flipping – A Case Study

  1. Hello,
    I have been doing that for a while now and I have one major "issue".
    If you buy a collecion for let's say $150 and that same week you could get $200 out of it, you make $50.
    If you trade for a while and it becomes $300, you made $150.
    But if you keep on trading, it becomes perhaps $450 after a month.

    My question: when do you decide to sell and start the same process with a new collection? 🙂
    All I seem to be doing is growing my collection that is for sale/trade. Taking up more space…

    1. At some point you've just got to sell. Even if it takes you a while or you roll the cards you bought into your collection, if you're not cashing out at semi-regular intervals, you're just amassing cardboard, you're not making any money.

  2. I solved this by selling anything over $5 to the online dealers. I also bulked out about 7 collections worth of C/U on Craigslist at $0.005/card. My Paypal acct is pretty healthy and my cardboard collection is actually mobile.

    I chose to keep the bulk rares because they are the easiest way to gain on trades and you dont have to worry about losing value with market timing.

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