Welcome back, readers.
Last week I talked about the basics of buylisting. This week I'll cover my buylisting strategy and experience leading up to GP Atlanta.
I'll preface this by saying I got the idea from Jason Alt's article regarding "ogreing". I'd recommend reading the article, but for those who don't have the time, here's the basic premise. Before bringing cards to a buylist, you do all the background work sorting, organizing and pricing cards first. Then you hand the binder to dealers and allow them to decide yes or no at buying each card at your listed price.
The beauty is that because you're saving them the time and effort of having to look up each card and compare to their own buylist (though some may want to for larger items), you can often sell them cards above their own buylist value. This also allows for fewer, quicker transactions. If I can get one dealer to buy 50% of my buylist cards at the highest buylist value and another to buy the other 50%, then I don't have to send out eight buylist orders to different stores. Basically everything is smoother and faster.
One last and important note when you consider buylisting; while the spread is a great indicator for demand and the lower the spread the closer to normal sell price, you need to look at the buylist price and ask yourself, "Am I comfortable accepting this much cash for this card?" (It's that simple.) I'll sell cards with a higher spread if I don't think I can get rid of them any other way, so why not cash out now and use the money to buy stuff I know I can sell.
Another advantage of ogreing is that you don't have to sort your cards by vendor. Your plan is to let all of them have a shot at the cards, but at the highest buylist price.
Several of the vendors at GP Atlanta were the top dogs on my card list (specifically Troll and Toad and Strikezone), and since I was using the price they posted on their website I wanted to remember which vendor posted it--primarily because if they passed over the cards originally, I could go back later and ask them to look them up and still get the amount I wanted.
To do this, I put the cards in penny sleeves (up to as many copies of the same card as would fit without damaging the cards), and wrote my target price on the front of the sleeve and the current "highest" vendor listed on the back.
The other beauty of doing this in person was that I didn't have to wait on them to pay me, and they could accept my price or move on to the next card.
After looking through my trade binders and pulling out all the copies of cards I had too many of and perusing the vendor buylists for the cards they were desperate for (best example; Face to Face Games was paying $0.25 for Ichorclaw Myrs so I went through my SOM box and pulled all copies) I was ready to go to the GP.
So how'd I do?
My first stop was Troll and Toad, as they were near the entrance and probably 30% of my "highest buyer" prices were to them anyways. Unfortunately, when I started talking to the buyer he said they wouldn't honor their online buylist on site because they needed to cover the cost of the booth.
This statement was, and still is, quite disconcerting to me (if you work for Troll and Toad and this statement was incorrect, please let me know so I can revise this paragraph). I immediately thought, "well that's very shady," and moved on. I certainly appreciated T&T's high buylist prices on many things, but if this truly is their policy I will not be selling to them.
My second stop was to Face to Face Games, primarily because I wanted to unload those Ichorclaw Myrs while they still wanted them. Luckily, this one went much smoother. I sat down and introduced myself to the nice buyer (I apologize that I'm terrible with names so I won't be listing anyone by name as I honestly can't remember them), explained that I had priced my cards to various buylists and that he was free to pick and choose what he wanted for the price on the sleeve.
He went through the binder, picked out what he wanted and I took the option of credit with the ability to cash out if I didn't find anything I wanted. This is a common practice because the stores will get new things in over the day and since you can always cash out before you leave, there's no reason to get the cash immediately. There is a concern that stores will run out of money, so I would cash out on Saturday rather than risk waiting until Sunday.
+188.31 (credit) or $150.65 (cash)
Next stop was to Ivory Tower, which happens to be where Ogre himself works now. Sadly Ogre was off doing his own thing when I stopped by them, but their buyer was really nice and appreciated (and understood) my binder. He was happy to pull the stuff they wanted out and after perusing their case (they had a lot of really good prices on some HP EDH/Legacy staples), I again took the credit with the option to cash out later.
+182 (credit) or $166.75 (cash)
Next stop was Alterreality Games. The buyer was a nice guy, but I go the feeling he wasn't as thrilled about my strategy. After looking through the whole binder he only found a little bit. I thanked him and this time just took the cash option.
I then found my way over to the Card Advantage booth. The buyer was very nice and really liked my approach (it saved him a lot of time looking up small cards and let him pick stuff quickly and easily). While they had a lot of good stuff in stock, I felt that I wanted to keep the "credit" option only for orders greater than $100, so again I took cash.
Next I stopped by MTG Card Market. The buyer was again a nice guy (they obviously have to be, given they are trying to get you to sell them cards, but I feel it's important to keep re-iterating because they are human and if they read this I want to know that I appreciated their time.) Unfortunately, the binder was becoming more sparse and he was only able to find a couple bucks worth of stuff.
Next stop was Gaming Etc. The buyer was very helpful and easy to talk to, he loved my approach but was the first (and only) vendor to warn me that I should probably be careful where I brought this binder out so that I didn't appear to be selling cards. I thanked him for his word of caution and promised that this binder was for vendors only. He only found a dollars worth of stuff and I was on my way.
I swung by the Pastimes booth and sat down, explained to the buyer my binder and told him to just pull whatever he wanted. I had put a few cards specifically in the binder for Pastimes as their buylist was extraordinarily high on some random cards ($0.5 for Increasing Savagerys...yes please).
At first he passed over them, which had me a bit worried, but he did say that they'd gotten quite a few in already, so I couldn't really blame him for that. Luckily for me, he went through a second time and took half of them off my hands. To be honest, I was most concerned about this vendor because they were also the TO and if they had an issue with my approach (specifically the labeling of prices in the binder) I didn't want to get kicked out or accused of doing anything they disapproved of. Luckily, that didn't occur.
Humorously enough, as I was talking to the buyer, Ogre himself sat down next to me with the other buyer and pulled out a giant box worth of stuff to sell. Needless to say, he was still there after I'd completed all my vendor visits for the day (I do think the binder approach is faster and better than the box approach, for what it's worth). Again I left Pasttimes with cash as it was below $100.
I was now down to three vendors (although I only visited two of them) remaining. I swung by MTGDeals.com and got to have a really nice long chat with their buyer. He really loved my idea and because the binders had been picked pretty clean I was more willing to play ball with alternate offers. Because of this he actually gave me more on some cards than I was asking (to keep the numbers easier). In the end I feel it was likely a wash, as I got $0.2 more on about ten cards to cover the reductions I accepted on others.
While discussing the idea with him, I realized that it would be best to use the most common numbers to keep the math easiest (I actually mentioned to him that the reason I hadn't was that I didn't think a lot of buyers would appreciate it if I kept rounding the $0.4 cards to $0.5).
Despite the binder having been looked over by a lot of different vendors, they were able to find over a hundred dollars worth of stuff. However, they didn't have a trade-in credit bonus, so cash was the obvious choice over credit.
My last stop was to Strikezone, which I was happy about because many of the cards still in my binder had the SZ's on the back anyways. I approached the buyer, explained the binder, and let him look through. Unfortunately, he didn't want anything (despite the fact that the cards were priced at their advertised buylist prices). I thanked him for his time, and left.
I was a bit worried about them doing the same thing as Troll and Toad, so I pulled some of the cards that I knew were on their buylist out of the sleeves and went back to them about an hour later asking how much they'd pay for what I had left (I priced it to around $48) and just handed them the stack with no prices on it. He looked through it and basically said they didn't want to pick up any of the little stuff at the event.
I can certainly understand this philosophy since they'd likely have to pay to ship everything back (to Texas). I mentioned that all the ones I handed him were on their buylist and his response was that I could mail them in. Unfortunately, that eliminates the ability for me to contest their grading and it leaves the cards in their hands. I found this a bit upsetting, but as I mentioned I could understand.
The only vendor I didn't go to was Ron's Comic World. The main reason was that by the time I'd gone to all the others, plenty of players had dropped and the vendor booths were getting crowded. I had concerns that they would be less willing to work with me when lots of players were nearby, since I was basically asking them to pay more than they wanted to on cards.
However, the second reason was that I visited their buylist before leaving and after looking up ten random Legacy/EDH/Modern staples I found them significantly lower than anyone else on MTG.GG. I do wish I had gone to them though, simply because I wanted to unload everything in the binder.
In the end I took cash (instead of any cards) because there was really nothing that I felt I needed. My final total was:
Which is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider the most valuable card I sold was a Ranger of Eos (which I got $9.1 for).
I also got to enjoy discussing my approach with my friends who were amazed I'd gotten that much money (I let them leaf through the binder before I began). What's even more impressive is that I'd already sold $63 dollars above that to my LGS owner (and he requested another $5.5 worth of stuff).
Moving forward, I will always have a "buylist" binder that I can bring to these big events or to my LGS owner and let him look through and pull what he wants. I'll still mail stuff in to vendors when their buy prices are really impressive, but doing everything in person was a really positive experience and I left the venue with that cash in hand.
Bonus Travel Preparedness Section
A lot of things went wrong for me at the GP (unrelated to my buylisting experience). You lucky readers get to benefit by hearing my woeful tales and the lessons I learned from them!
Always make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you leave and bring your charger with you--we had one travel buddy's phone die and it took us 25 minutes to find him, even after getting him paged over the intercom.
Secondly, be aware of construction materials in the road; after finally leaving the site (around 9:30) we left Atlanta and stopped by a Steak and Shake outside the city. After putting in our order (our drinks came 15 minutes after ordering...which is really bad when two guys haven't had a thing to eat or drink since noon) and waiting another 25 minutes without our food, we finally just told the waiter to cancel our meal and we left to go to Wendy's.
Except our driver had managed to get some metallic object wedged into his tire around the venue site and the tire had deflated as we sat waiting for food that never came. We got the spare on and started back on the road. Our driver thought it felt a bit flat and we stopped at a gas station to air up the spare tire. Despite it saying to inflate to 60 PSI, we got to around 55 when it popped.
Meanwhile, everyone's phone but mine was now dead, so I pulled out my battery charger ($10 off of Amazon...it's a worthwhile investment) and we called my friend's brother who lived about 25-30 minutes away. We were finally at his place and asleep around 2:00 AM.
So, if you're going on a road trip to an event I'd suggest the following be included in your overall supplies:
- Water bottle (per person)
- Granola Bar/Snack bar/Pop Tart (per person)
- Phone charger
- Backup phone battery
- Tire repair kit
- Portable Inflator