Most of you all probably already know that Star City Games has increased the sell price on their Misty Rainforests to $19.99 + shipping. They’ve also increased their buy price to $10.00
Meanwhile, a quick hop over to cardshark.com reveals the cheapest Misty Rainforests there are currently selling for between $11.00 and $12.00 + shipping, which nets somewhere between $14.00 and $15.00.
Extending the search for Misty Rainforests to eBay.com, we can find the cheapest ones, albeit played, are selling for between $12.00 and $13.00 shipped.
Which price would you like to pay for these highly liquid and vastly played cards? The eBay prices certainly seem most attractive, but I believe there is a better answer. Would you not prefer to pay prices closest to Star City Games’ buy price?
The Easiest Way to Shop
It’s unlikely we will be able to buy cards exactly at the buy prices of the large retailers. Although we can offer prices without fees, we also lack the capital to offer buy prices on such vast quantities of cards, thereby limiting our purchasing power.
We can, however, buy many cards slightly above retail buy prices, by simply creating a buylist of our own. The concept is simple yet elegant. The larger the buylist, the more likely we will acquire cards we desire most at attractive prices.
For example, I tested the practicality on MOTL by adding a short buylist towards the end of my sale list. Besides listing all the Angels from Avacyn Restored which I needed for my collection, I also added the following:
4x Misty Rainforest - $10.50
4x Scalding Tarn - $10.50
4x Arid Mesa - $7.00
4x Marsh Flats - $7.00
4x Verdant Catacombs - $6.50
2x Geist of Saint Traft - $14
2x Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells - $14
After a couple days on MOTL, I managed to purchase about half of the cards listed in sufficient quantities to justify shipping costs. At the end of the day, I had a dozen fetch lands and a few extra Standard staples on their way to my doorstep with minimal effort on my part. No need to scour eBay waiting for an underpriced auction and no need to sift through endless MOTL listings attempting to locate the best deals.
Size Does Matter
The list I created above was relatively small, but I chose cards that most people had and listed buy prices above retail buy prices. As a result, people with excess of these cards knew they could have an immediate sale at better-than-retail buylist pricing. The benefit to me is that I can acquire highly desired cards for cheap without much effort. A true win-win scenario!
In order to drive traffic to your buylist, however, you will need some starting capital. Additionally, the longer the list the more people will look to sell you cards. One reason sites like Star City Games and Channel Fireball can offer slightly lower buylist prices is because they will buy thousands of cards at non-bulk pricing. If you create a buylist with ten cards on it, you will have to offer a premium price if just to justify shipping costs.
Maintain a list for long enough and you may even have trade grinders seeking out your cards at FNMs to trade for so they can convert some of their collection for cash. These grinders love to convert as many cards as possible into cash, so by offering prices on more cards you have a higher likelihood of making worthwhile purchases.
If your buylist is not specific, with listed cards and prices (as in the Craigslist posting above), you are less likely to receive hits. Even if your buylist contains a few EDH cards priced at three dollars each, it’s not likely you’ll be buying much.
Unless one person has most of the cards on your list, no one is going to view it worth their time to ship you ten dollars in cards. If, on the other hand, you list many midrange cards in addition to the cheaper ones, you will then find that sellers will add in a cheap card or two in addition to the mid-range cards.
In essence, you should offer competitive buy prices on solid midrange cards (i.e. cards in the $10-$20 range) and then some more favorable buy prices on some cheaper cards. Your sellers will go ahead and settle for lower value on the cheaper cards since they can ship everything to you all at once, thereby maximizing the deal for them.
A Few Key Watchouts
The next time Troll and Toad lists a new buylist on MOTL, take a look at all the rules they’ve created. The fine print is so long, the restrictions look like a legal document – but this is absolutely necessary when you are making so many large purchases.
Why must Troll and Toad enforce so many rules? It’s likely because they have been burnt multiple times in the past by poor MOTL transactions. Either card conditions were misrepresented, shipping time was too slow, excess cards were offered, etc. For every way your buylist can be exploited, a MOTL member will attempt to take advantage.
Therefore, my caution to you is to keep a close eye on your buylist’s action. If you make a list that is too long and too attractively priced, you will have more people selling you cards than you will have the cash for. This will bog you down and may lead to some suboptimal transactions. Troll and Toad experienced this firsthand and have since added multiple rules and disclaimers to their buylists on MOTL in order to cover themselves. You may want to consider something similar.
Another key watchout with buylists is the low-baller. Give an inch and these sharks will take a mile. Therefore, it is my recommendation to put at the top of your buylist in bold letters that your prices are non-negotiable. After all, there is a reason you are implementing this buylist with these prices – to profit. Having members of the MTG community constantly try to negotiate your sell prices higher may increase transactions, but it will also significantly eat into your profits. If you choose competitive buy prices to start with, you will minimize but not eliminate low-ball offers.
Finally, my last word of caution relates to pricing. If you choose buy prices below retail you will garner zero interest in your list. The whole purpose of this exercise is to generate a win-win scenario for you and the seller. They get a little more in buy-listing their cards and you obtain cards at below-eBay prices with minimal effort. Attempt to exploit this system to an extreme and you’ll likely turn sellers off, hurting your reputation.
It’s Worth a Try
Members of the MTG community are starting to realize that creating their own buylist is not only profitable, but also easy. An hour’s worth of research would be sufficient time to create a buylist. And until the market is flooded with them, which seems unlikely, there will always be opportunity to acquire competitively priced cards at bargain prices.
If people are selling Misty Rainforests on eBay for $13, this means they are willing to accept $10 - $11 for the cards in net cash. Fees and shipping costs are a reality that these sellers choose to accept.
Imagine if they had access to buylists where they could sell their Misty Rainforests for $11 each. They won’t acquire the feedback, but they will certainly make the same amount of money they would have made on sites that do charge fees. The scenario is beneficial to both parties.
The key is to operate within this gap between retail buy prices and eBay sell prices. In between is a ten to twenty percent spread within which you can profit. Better yet, you can take these Misty Rainforests and trade them at your next FNM with a retail price of $19.99. Convert them into Legacy staples for even greater profit.
The opportunity is certainly there. From first hand experience, I am delighted with the process and I intend to try it again in the future.