Welcome back readers. My article today is about bulk trading. I realize this topic has been broached several times, but I would like to re-emphasize how amazing this strategy is and more importantly explain some of the nuances of this style of trading.
First, the bulk box. The concept of a "bulk box" is a box you trade out of that has a set price. For example, my bulk box(es) have these rules written on them: each rare = two new rares, a mythic/foil rare counts as two rares and I will accept some uncommons (this is the most complicated one as I only want uncommons that I know I can trade/unload easily).
This means that if someone roots through it and pulls out 10 rares they need to put 20 new rares or the equivalent in mythics or some combination. This is a pretty easy concept for people to grasp and one that can really work out well for you. I only accept uncommons that my LGS (Nextgen) is looking for at the time because I know I can get immediate trade in credit for them (they also tend to be uncommons that are more valuable than usual).
Now, one "rookie" mistake might be to repeatedly check prices in your bulk box to pull out anything that isn't truly bulk (i.e. stuff you know you'll only sell at bulk rates to stores). This is a lot more work than you'd think given how prices fluctuate, and more importantly it means that your bulk box will end up being only the lowest-end chaff that nobody wants.
That's not where you want it to be, the reason being that your rules already state that each rare in it can potentially net you two rares, so anything that's worth less than two bulk rares is the same whether it's in the box or not. But even more importantly, if you don't have little hidden gems in the box, people will not feel a need to root through it over and over (this is where the real beauty is).
Another lesson I learned was to seperate my bulk box into two boxes, Standard and not-Standard. The reason for this is to allow people to search more easily. The Standard players are only concerned with the Standard box, and usually look for cards that are slightly above bulk or they need for a deck they are building; these are my favorite bulk box traders as they often have little use for non-Standard cards and often put in non-Standard cards that are above bulk.
I then filter through the new stuff looking for any hidden gems that I actually need and put all the other stuff into the non-Standard bulk box. The non-Standard bulk boxes tend to be more geered toward casual and EDH. For the non-Standard box you want a lot of diversity, as EDH decks can often vary greatly based on play style. It's important to have all kinds of random cards from all different sets.
Second, we have the practice of trading high-end staples for "bulk". This is something I've seen other people do far better than myself.
There's one guy who attends many of the events here in the south. I won't call him out, but he always brings an impressive binder full of duals, Onslaught fetches, and every manner of Legacy/Standard staple you can think of. He trades for bulk constantly.
In my earlier days I traded with him twice, to pick up a Savannah, Karakas, Show and Tell and Tarmogoyf. He traded them at fair prices, but the beauty was he knew what the buylist prices were for most of my cards. So he offered me a fair deal, then could walk over to a vendor and sell my stuff for cash (often more than enough to replace the cards I'd picked up).
I finally learned my lesson and decided to branch out on my own. I now offer people the opportunity to trade for anything in my trade binder (at TCG mid value) at bulk prices (0.10 cents per rare, 0.25 cents per Mythic/Foil rare).
I enjoy this because it takes me out of the equation. My trade partner can go through their binders and unload the stuff that nobody wants and get the high-end cards for "crap". I just have to go through the effort of filtering it out and then finding the appropriate dealer to generate the most revenue.
While I can see some feel there is an ethical grey area when people trade you stuff that isn't bulk at bulk rates (and this is something I've actually wrestled with); the fact is that sometimes it would be nearly impossible to go through all the stuff people are trading in and alert them. This is the main reason I let them make the decision of what to trade in and what not to trade in. Only trade in stuff they have no use for.
When someone trades in a large amount of bulk and while going through it later I find stuff that is considerably more valuable than bulk I try my best to credit them (this only works for people I see on a semi-regular basis), so that if they ever need something small or we're trading "normally" I can make sure they get a better deal. You certainly don't have to do this, but I feel like I should (it's a personal decision).
The best time for bulk trading is right before or right after a Standard rotation. The Standard-only players will dump their old stuff to get the latest stuff and this is prime time to get a lot of new "bulk" to trade to EDH/Casual/Eternal players later.
In case you're wondering how well this can turn out (and this isn't actually meant to be a brag), I've received the following cards as "bulk":
- 4x Terminus
- 1x Terminus (Foil)
- 1x Stomping Ground
- 5x Temporal Mastery
- 3x Detention Sphere
- 2x Dreadbore
I did credit the people who traded these in, so the next time we trade and they are a couple dollars off I won't sweat it.
Last but not least, remember that you can and should cash out cards every once in awhile. My rule of thumb is I don't want anymore than eight of any rare in any particular bulk box.
If I go above eight copies I'll pull them out and put them in a "cash out" box, which I can then send to a dealer. Our very own Gus Landt actually pays well for non-Standard bulk rares (he may very well get inundated with them now), but you always have SCG as an out as well.