Insider: Adventures in Vending – Magic Origins Prerelease Weekend

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Last weekend I attended my first prerelease as a vendor, which I was pretty excited for. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but it was something new and would be a learning experience one way or the other.

We were at the store that we vend for every Friday night for FNM, and for prerelease weekend we planned on staying a round in to the midnight event and then being back all day Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, we had made contact with another store a few hours out to vend their prerelease, so we would be at two places at once for our first weekend ever.

Our Prerelease Experience

Part of the idea of vending a pre-release was to get our hands on some Origins cards early. We weren't terribly successful at this. There's a lot of sentimental value given by many players to cards that they open, and a number of players didn't want to part with their first Nissa. It was also problematic that most cards on players want lists tended to be from Origins, and since you can't sell cards from the new set at the prerelease, they weren't in a rush to sell off the ones that they opened.

Alternatively, a number of people were willing to sell cards that they wouldn't normally, in order to pay their entry fee for sealed flights. Off the top of my head, there was a player who sold us a Berserk that he had been sitting on because he'd rather use cards to pay for tournaments than pour more money into the game.

While people didn't line up to sell their prerelease rares, I did have some success on Sunday with a more proactive approach. When people were trying to split their rares from their Two-Headed Giant flights I asked if they'd be interested in selling, and made offers on some pools. I picked up a couple pools this way, but for the most part the prerelease wasn't a very fruitful way to get new cards.

Release weekends, alternatively, are great for getting new cards. This is largely because people can, you know, buy product. While this was our first prerelease, we were able to vend the Modern Masters 2015 release weekend and it was gas.

More players than you would think just crack packs and immediately sell off the rares, save for a few specific ones they might be looking for. Or maybe they're even just playing packs like the lottery and sell them all--either way, you take in a lot of inventory when people start purchasing product.

On the More Successful Part

While we didn't end up with a lot of Origins product, we did do a good amount of business last weekend. The second store that we were vending for is a couple hours out from the metro area, and as such the card pool there is a bit smaller.

Living near Minneapolis in 2015 has given me a biased view that card availability is a thing of the past, but this is simply not the case. The further you remove yourself from active Magic scenes, the more you'll run into people who are excited to browse your inventory and to trade their cards for yours. I don't fully understand this in the age of the internet, but nevertheless, it's just a fact.

There was a good amount of work involved in vending for two stores on the same weekend, the most time-consuming being splitting and re-merging our inventory. I don't think this sort of thing is anybody's favorite thing to do, but you have to have your cards with you to sell them, and at the end of the day the venture was a success.

The types of sales that we made were interesting, if not surprising in hindsight. At the second store the player base had purchased Modern Masters 2015 product, but hadn't really had a means to either complete sets or move any of their cards. As such, we were moving Tarmogoyfs in both directions, with some people flushing out their sets and others selling off the one that they won the lottery with.

Something that Mike reported when he returned was that a couple stores near the one he worked at didn't run events and were closed on the weekends. While I don't understand the business model, I am actively excited to go out there sometime and browse their inventory. Random shops that aren't very invested in Magic but carry singles generally have one thing in common--a lot of gold mixed in with their bulk.

Quiet Speculation's own Kelly Reid passed through Minnesota a little while ago, and found a shop that was literally within ten minutes of my apartment that I had never heard of because they don't run events. He spent 10+ hours picking their "bulk". As one might imagine, if he was spending that kind of time perusing unsorted "junk", he certainly found things that made it worth his while.

Specifically, Kelly mentioned that he finds a lot of Firestorms in random piles for dimes and quarters. And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. If you weren't very invested in Magic and got maybe some of the basics down, would you be able to discern that Firestorm was anything other than bulk?

In sum, prereleases are medium, covering more physical space is still relevant in 2015, and release weekends are gas.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

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Ryan Overturf

Ryan has been playing Magic since Legions and playing competitively since Lorwyn. While he fancies himself a Legacy specialist, you'll always find him with strong opinions on every constructed format.

View More By Ryan Overturf

Posted in Finance, Free Insider, Magic Origins, VendingTagged , ,

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5 thoughts on “Insider: Adventures in Vending – Magic Origins Prerelease Weekend

  1. Thanks for the article. I will start vending at a new game store opening up in a few months. Due to this I aim to increase my supply of standard cards by opening around a case of each new set ready for release weekend. In your experience do you think this is a good idea or should I just stick to picking cards up through buylists and trade ins?


    1. You should never do anything like that. The odds are against you still in being able to return a profit. You’ll make more money selling the packs individually

      1. It’s going to depend on the EV of the set. Having cards in stock on release weekend is a great way to incentivize people to trade in their new cards to you, but it’s not worth it if the EV of a box is low. If it’s like, $10 over what you pay for them though, it’s a good to great idea, just so you have the things people want.

        Origins doesn’t have great E.V. so unless you know you can move the cards quickly I wouldn’t recommend opening much product. Selling packs is just going to be better than cracking them, but you need to have inventory, too.

  2. I found ANOTHER Firestorm in bulk last week in South Dakota, along with some Alternate 4th Edition commons. Bought the Godless Shrine I needed for $9 (below tcg mid) and then paid another buck for a stack of decent 10c cards (inc. the Firestorm).

  3. I had read your first article in this series and was really intrigued by the idea of being able to vend at events in local shops. I’ve been grinding out collection buys on craigslist for a few months and the pickings there are getting slim so I’ve been looking for ways to keep the profit rolling in when I’m not buying collections. So I decided to post on a local Facebook group that I was looking for a store to host me as a vendor during FNMs, gpts, etc. A local shop owner who stopped running events about a year ago contacted me and has offered to let me run fnms, gpts, iqs, etc. at his store. I will be buying and selling cards for myself during events and the store owner is going to pay me to do this. It should be a unique opportunity and I’m exited to see how it pans out. Thanks for putting this out there and planting the seed.

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