With my collection sorted by price and ready to move, it was time to bring the next step of my plan into action. I would cart my cards around to a few local dealers so they could pick what they wanted, I’d let friends looks through them and entertain offers or trades, and whatever was left I would haul down to Grand Prix Atlanta to the dealer booths.
My first stop was the local shop, which actively buys cards for its case but also has a thriving online business. The shop usually acquires big collections from people selling out and just throws a number on them for the lot, so I knew my approach of having cards priced out would be a radically different experience for them. Rather than grinding out the small cards, the shop was only interested in a few higher-price items it could turn for a quick flip. I sold $85 worth of Modern rares before heading home.
I immediately realized that my plan was going to be a lot more difficult to enact than I had envisioned, requiring a lot of travel and interactions with many people over an extended period of time. All that, and I would still inevitably be left with a lot of cards. Buylisting at a Grand Prix would be a reasonable out, but hauling thousands of cards to a Limited Grand Prix that I have to fly to seems like the worst possible timing to sell a collection. I accepted that the best path for me was going to be mailing to buylists, which are able to give me what my cards are worth, and most importantly, provide an outlet for nearly every card.
I had qualms with the conditions of my cards and the discount buylists would apply, but I accepted that any discount a buylist applied to my cards would pale in comparison to the discount that the typical buyer would attempt to pay on them, not including the time and effort I would have to put into selling face to face. I also inspected my cards and saw that while yes, many were played, the majority were actually in great condition from sitting in boxes or binders for years not being played.
While I knew it would be a lot of work, I set out to sell my collection to the buylists on Trader Tools. To save time and shipping, I decided not to buylist my boxes of cards worth $0.30 and under, because their total value wasn’t much more than $100 or so. It wasn’t worth my time at that moment, and they would be relatively expensive to ship.
I began to sort my cards into ten piles, one for each buylist, by using Trader Tools and the Ion Core scanner to find which shop was paying the best price. When I was ready to buylist my cards, they were already sorted by shop and ready to finalize.
It was then that I realized that when you use Trader Tools to push a list straight to buylists with Trade Routes, it automatically sorts the list into whatever buylists are paying at that moment in time, even if the price is different than when you scanned it. It’s great, because you will always get the maximum value for your cards, but this meant that when buylisting I had to search through piles and move some cards around, because some prices and buyers had changed in the time between when I scanned in the late night and when I buylisted the following evening.
If your plan is to sell cards to buylists and you aren’t handling it all during one sitting, it means cards may be better sorted into piles by set rather than by buylist or price. This will save you time in the long run, especially if you plan on waiting more than a day between scanning cards and buylisting them.
It also means that if I had an accurate list uploaded, I wouldn’t have really needed to scan my collection again after sorting by price last week. I could have just used Trade Routes to send to buylists, and then pulled and sorted cards after the fact. With this in mind, it’s important to keep a good list maintained in Trader Tools when scanning, meaning it’s worth the time to delete mis-read cards and fix the edition when it scans the wrong one. When dealing with multiple copies of cards, I found it easier to manually input the number of copies rather than scanning each one individually.
When all was said and done, I designated almost every card I wanted to sell to the ten buylists, loaded the cards into their websites, and then packaged the cards up to ship. Here’s a summary of my experience with each of the ten buylists:
Isle of Cards
Isle of Cards supported Trade Routes, and the website was relatively efficient and easy to use. My only qualm was that the left half of the website window was taken up by a generic list of cards they were buying, so it made for a somewhat awkward visual experience. It was by far my largest order, so I only have great things to say about their prices.
ABU Games supported Trade Routes. Tuning the invoice took more time than others because it required loading for each search, but it was relatively simple. They also have a separate option for played cards at a lower price, so there is full disclosure on what you’ll receive for your cards.
MythicMTG worked with Trade Routes. They have a search bar that wasn’t particularly efficient or innefficient, but it was a small buylist of higher-priced cards that didn’t require much time.
Cape Fear Games
CapeFearGames worked with Trade Routes and had a website that made it simple to tune my order. They didn't buy much, but I will do business with them again on occasions where they are offering the best prices.
Magic.cards did not support pushing buylists with Trade Routes, but their layout was a breeze and extremely efficient. The search bar was fast and showed each set, and once selected it automatically loaded to the cart. There’s a bar to adjust the condition and the corresponding price. For convenience, their buylisting invoice is created in the order you upload cards, so unlike with other buylists, there is no requirement to sort cards afterwards. They are simply ready to ship.
Strike Zone did not support Trade Routes, and their buylisting process was by far the least efficient because there was no search option. I had to select the set for each card, then find the card in the list. I’ve also heard they are very stringent on condition and don’t have interest in taking played cards at a discount, so I wonder if I will even have success with this buylist. Between the website and the grading, in retrospect, I should have not included them during the Ion Core scanning, and I will avoid them in the future. That said, they have the highest prices on some cards, so they could be an ideal place to send quality high-end singles. They’re respected stalwarts that can be found with a booth at many events, and I’ve only had positive interactions with their staff, so I recommend a face-to-face interaction to get the best experience.
Troll and Toad
Troll and Toad required uploading by hand but had a solid search feature. The inconvenience is made up for by the fact that they have been known as generous graders in the past.
AdventuresON did not work with Trade Routes, and had a very clunky website on par with Strike Zone, with no search bar, so I would avoid them unless the rate is worth it on higher-end cards.
Cool Stuff, Inc.
Cool Stuff, Inc. required manual upload. It was easy to search through and use, and not particularly efficient or inefficient.
I saved the biggest buyer, Card Kingdom, for last. It didn’t work with Trade Routes, so I had to do it by hand—or so I thought. When I set out to finally manually input all my cards, I checked on Trade Routes again just in case, and lo and behold, it was working. I had previously logged into Card Kingdom, so I thought that could be the reason, but some sleuthing on the forums revealed that Card Kingdom’s connection with Trade Routes was actually fixed that very day, so I had great timing. Unfortunately, Card Kindom no longer had the best price on the majority of the stack, so most of those cards went to other buylists.
At the end, I went back and sorted through what I had remaining and did a second, smaller round of buylisting, creating extra orders for Isle of Cards, ABU, and Magic.Cards, and packaged them up with their invoices with the other orders for those buyers.
For shipping, I packaged cards into old starter/precon/Commander/Duel Deck boxes, and placed those in high-quality waterproof bubble mailers, which cost $0.70 each, and shipped them for $2.62 each. The two largest orders I put in larger plastic Ultra Pro boxes, which I put into boxes and shipped for around $3. The two smallest orders I packaged in small, plastic clamshells placed in generic bubble mailers that cost around $0.50 each, and shipped for $2.62. I was satisfied with the postage costs, which at under $30 were below my expectation for shipping around a thousand cards to ten different buyers.
My takeaway was that Ion Core is a versatile tool with many uses, and how to get the most out of it will depend on your goals and timeline. It's a great way to upload a collection or pile of specs to sell via Trader Tools. You could upload your collection, keeping an eye on it and periodically selling when prices are best by adjusting the spread tool. It helps you identify cards that are demanding a premium, or you could just use it as a way to keep track of the value of your collection. It’s also a great way to slowly build up an inventory to sell in big fell swoops, such as when the value hits a certain point. I recommend checking it out and seeing for yourself—and head to the forums to talk with the Trader Tools experts!
I’ll report back next week with the results of my buylisting experience.