No matter what you are after in the game, there is one constant in your search for Magic: The Gathering-related satisfaction: money.
The original-printing, near-mint, absolutely gorgeous foil of your latest Commander? That costs money. The latest A-plus grade sleeves? Money; probably $9.99. Entry to the nearest Grand Prix or Open or what have you? That costs money, and fortunately they take PayPal. Five hundred copies of a bulk rare that Chaz is sure is the next Sword of the Animist? That’s $50 plus shipping – I hope they were all from one vendor. While this site is rife with ways to make money or save money with Magic cards, there’s one way in particular that I want to tell you about…
Get a job!
That’s right, you don’t have to buylist uncommons for nickels (if that) or even take down Big Modern to bring home money with Magic. Believe it or not, you have developed a very special set of skills every time you did one of the myriad things that Magic players do – and those skills can help you land a job. In my life, I have been a Magic judge, an LGS employee and a content creator, and now I hold a job in an office. I can credit all of these jobs to Magic in one way or another, and I am really grateful for that. My hope is that you come away with the knowledge that you can use next time your LGS is hiring.
The business of Magic cards prominently involves the act of buying and selling cards. Generally, a store will find that the more cards they buy, the higher variety they have in stock, which leads to more sales.
Since you are reading an article on Quiet Speculation, congratulations! There’s a good chance that you know a thing or two about buying and selling Magic cards. After you buy the cards, though, you will have to put them away in an organized fashion. This requires some practice, which of course you would get on the job, but you can develop the muscle memory that it takes at home too with this simple exercise:
- Fill a five-row box with Magic cards, including decks from different formats and loose commons from your last draft. You don’t have to take off the sleeves.
- Mix those cards together! Dump them on the floor (carefully, of course), move them around again, and then put them back. You now have an accurate model of a “Put Away” box.
- Sort these cards by set, then by color, then alphabetically.
- Repeat step 2, then sort by rarity, then color, then alphabetically.
If you are feeling really ambitious, ask your LGS how they sort their cards for the best preparation! If you don’t own a five-row box or enough cards to fill it, you can make sure that you are familiar with set symbols and grading instead. I’ll leave it up to you to decide that for yourself.
Generally, your local game store sells more than just Magic cards and Mountain Dew. As an employee, part of your job is teaching and selling various board games that they stock as well.
As a Magic player, I have good news for you: Magic is one of the more complicated games out there, and provides the basis for all sorts of mechanics in some of the most popular board games. Sushi Go! is a game where you “draft” pieces of sushi. In New York Slice, you split a pizza, Fact or Fiction-style. Next time you are waiting on a round during Friday Night Magic, check out the demo shelf, pick a game and play with your friends between matches. Additionally, the ability to teach friends about Magic translates into being able to teach customers board games as well.
Getting excited about a new set’s spoilers has prepared you well for selling the latest boosters and singles. Suddenly, you can get paid to have the exact same conversations about which cards will be good that you would have with your friends anyway, but with the people coming into your store. If you can translate that feverish enthusiasm into other products, like board games, you will be a salesperson before you know it.
There are some things that Magic may not have equipped you with that working at a local game store requires, like customer service. In that case, past work experience may help out here, especially in a food-service setting. Helping someone build an original Daretti, Scrap Savant deck is not unlike helping a diner navigate the daily specials menu. If you have never held a job like this, think about the first time you walked into a store to buy Magic cards. I don’t know about you, but I was terrified. Assume that everyone coming into the store is ready to bolt at any minute, so it is your job to make sure they have everything they need, even if they didn’t know they need it, while also making them feel as welcome as possible.
Unless your kitchen-table variants are particularly cutthroat, there’s a good chance Magic didn’t prepare you for cleaning the bathrooms. Believe it or not, what many employers want from their staff is for them to be able to clean a bathroom without the boss following behind them and pointing out missed spots like a parent. If you want an idea of why this is important, invite fifty friends over for a dinner party that lasts at least four hours. Then clean your bathroom until it is like new. Running a game store is like that, every day, except there are generally two or more bathrooms that need to be cleaned. Understanding this will take you a long way to being able to clean bathrooms effectively!
If you want to work in a game store, your interview process starts before the store even has an opening. The people who work there see everything you do, from the way you interact with players to the way you handle losing, and that can go a long way into getting you the job (or losing it, for that matter). The biggest thing that Magic can do for you when it comes to working at your LGS is get you some trust. The person hiring will rest easier knowing that the person they hire is a regular who can be trusted with all of that valuable, pocket-sized merchandise, because they are a member of that community too, and are invested in the success of the store.
Showing that you care above and beyond simply angling for a job will go a long way to getting what could be a sweet, sweet employee discount on singles and sleeves. Give it some thought.