Insider Field Report: Grand Prix Atlanta

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Hello, all. My name is George Tudor, and this is my first finance article for Quiet Speculation. I have been playing Magic since 1996 (I started during Mirage block) and am now a two-time previous level 1 judge from Florida. Today, I’m going to tell you some of the excitement and pitfalls from my Grand Prix Atlanta experience, including my experiences with the vendors.

Overall, Grand Prix Atlanta was a horrendous experience for me, somewhat because of the event itself, but mostly due to outside circumstances. However, I can strongly recommend these events for players who are casual or semi-competitive – Grand Prix offer by far the widest range of experiences for playing, trading, selling, or meeting famous Magic players and artists.

So what was supposed to happen at the GP? I was supposed to have all of my cards sorted alphabetically by set and further divided into foils, non-foils and foreign cards. I feel this is the easiest way to sort cards in order to sell or put into trade binders for a large event like a Grand Prix. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time before the event to have all of my cards sorted, which caused some issues when trying to sell them – more on that in a bit.

My experiences with the vendors were mostly positive. I was a little intimidated, as even though I’ve been playing for a very long time, this was my first event that I attended solely to trade and sell cards. For many years in the past, I always thought vendors were simply ripping players off with high prices and mediocre service. However, as I have gotten older and wiser, I have come to realize that at the end of the day, these vendors are trying to operate a business and in order to be profitable, they must sell cards at events at higher prices than they would otherwise. There are two primary reasons for this:

  1. The price to simply have a booth to buy and sell cards at a large event is very expensive. These companies have to pay for the booth itself, the individuals’ salaries that buy and sell cards for them over the weekend, food, travel, and lodging expenses, plus determining the logistics of getting all the cards they purchased back to their stores.
  2. The basic premise of supply and demand. At large Constructed events, if players are trying to finish their decks at the last second, they are willing to pay a premium to acquire cards that they wouldn’t normally purchase at high prices. A prime example was me trying to help a friend finish purchasing cards for the mono-red deck he planned on playing in the Grand Prix. The cheapest prices we could find for Hazorets and Ramunap Ruins on site were $20 and $1 each, respectively. While these cards are much cheaper on many other websites, you are paying for convenience.

Vendor Reports

Here are the vendors I sold to and the amounts I received from them:

  • Alter Reality, Aaron ($350) – Aaron was friendly. Some of the prices Alter Reality offered on Standard cards were significantly lower than other vendors on site. Also, on their printed buylist for the weekend, they had Wurmcoil Engine listed at $9, but when I tried to sell him one he put it in the $8 pile. He may have simply forgotten or they may have already purchased several, I’m not sure.
  • Miniature Market, Jason ($66.50) – Jason and I have a friend in common who is the manager of one of Cool Stuff’s stores, so we had a good conversation. They had very good buy prices on Standard cards compared to some of the other vendors, and I sold several of the cards I bought from collections or bulk lots here.
  • Troll and Toad, Kyle ($303) – Kyle was awesome, very friendly, a funny conversationalist, and made me feel very comfortable during the whole transaction. Troll and Toad offered some great prices on foils, so I sold a lot of foils here, including a couple of Expeditions that I had been hanging onto for awhile. They also had some good buy prices on obscure Standard cards.
  • Cool Stuff, Inc., Jim ($51) – Jim is a good guy who I have seen many times while judging and playing Magic in Florida, and my interaction with him as a buyer was excellent as well. He’s pretty quiet, but found several cards and priced them very quickly. I wish I would have had more cards off of Cool Stuff’s buylist, as they were offering an insane 30-percent trade-in bonus and had an UNL Mox Emerald and UNL Mox Jet at very good cash prices that became insane with the bonus figured in. (The Emerald was priced at $900 cash, which comes out to only $692.30 in trade-ins!)
  • Cape Fear Games, Curtis ($55) – Curtis was also an excellent buyer, and while CFG unfortunately wasn’t able to offer top dollar on bulk, they did have very competitive buy prices on everything else.

I was pleasantly surprised at how excellent all of my interactions with the vendors were. I was half-heartedly expecting to have many aggressive traders, trying to pressure me into accepting sub-optimal deals, but that simply wasn’t the case. All of my interactions with the buyers were great. They were friendly, accepting when I didn’t like an offer, let me counteroffer, and were understanding that I was their customer. They all treated me like a person and not an ATM, which I greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, I did have one negative experience with one very well known vendor; however, I am giving that vendor time to rectify the situation before I discuss it publicly. If any of you would like more information, feel free to message me on the forums or on Discord.

The Takeaways

Here are some recommendations I have for others based on my experience:

  • Make sure you have all of your cards sorted ahead of time. I can’t stress this enough. I had a goal of selling $5,000 worth of cards to vendors at the Grand Prix, and I was lucky to walk away with somewhere over $800. If my collection was sorted properly, I know I could have easily walked away with much more.
  • Don’t be intimidated by a buyer and don’t be afraid to ask for more if you don’t agree with a price. The worst anyone can say to an offer is no, and if they make you feel uncomfortable, you have every right to refuse a transaction and walk away. I want to make sure that those selling to vendors for the first time understand that you have a right to refuse any offer and you can also counteroffer. With counteroffers, I would stress not to do too many in small transactions, as time is invaluable for both the buyer and the seller, but in large transactions, I feel very comfortable asking for a little more, especially on higher-value cards. If you ever feel uncomfortable or pressured, it is always okay to say no and walk away. Maybe the vendor’s offers were fair and your expectations of a card’s value are too high… or maybe you find a better deal from another vendor. Either way, never feel like you have to sell something to a vendor at a price you feel is unfair; it’s okay to negotiate a better offer or just outright decline.
  • Utilize Trader Tools to get a good idea of what values are before you go to a large event, and create and organize an “Ogre Box.” Because I didn’t have my cards sorted, I wasn’t able to utilize this, and I feel this was my gravest mistake. Filling a four=row box with cards with escalating values can help you get rid of a ton of cards at once, and saves both you and the vendors time. I can almost guarantee my experiences would have been much more positive than they already were if I knew what I wanted to sell and who I wanted to sell it to and had an idea of a price range I was willing to accept before I even walked into the room.
  • Have a plan of attack before the event so you maximize the efficiency of both your and the vendors’ time. Time is money, and time is the one resource that we can’t get back once it’s gone. I printed out a document with my plan of attack for this particular event… then failed to email it to myself and promptly forgot the hard copy at home.
  • Try to sell cards as early as possible. I know many of these items have been said a million times before, but I will reiterate what others have said: vendors come with a certain amount of cash and they want to buy as many cards as possible over the weekend. This is a great chance for vendors to interact with hundreds or thousands of people each day, all with varying cards and collection values, and as badly as many people want to sell their cards, the vendors are equally eager to buy your cards, either to fill their cases with stock back at their local stores or to ramp up for upcoming local or regional events.

I hope you all find my misfortunes beneficial to planning for your future events. Remember to relax and have fun! After all, this is the greatest game in the world. Feel free to leave comments or questions below, in the forums, or you can also reach me on the Quiet Speculation forums or private Discord channel if you are a subscriber. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your feedback!

4 thoughts on “Insider Field Report: Grand Prix Atlanta

  1. Great article. Sorry to hear it didn’t go as planned. I’ve definitely tried to “wing it” selling at a GP before and didn’t do so well. I appreciate how you emphasize planning ahead as I like to do that as well. I have even gone so far as to make a list of vendors, pick out 10-20 Standard, Modern, Legacy, and EDH staples and compared their online buylist prices to see which ones offered the highest prices. I’ve found this to be a very useful strategy as stores that offer low online buy prices tend to offer low in person buy prices.

    1. Thanks for the feedback David! I’ll have to try that for the next GP I plan on attending to sell, there were many other circumstances that contributed to it being a bad weekend outside of not selling as much as I’d like, but I wanted to make sure from a selling standpoint that others don’t repeat my mistakes.

  2. Nice read, great that you got it published.

    In the end I was left wondering what was so horrendous though? I assume it’s related to the unshared story? Not sure it’s the best choice to call something horrendous and then not explain what it was.

    1. There were several external factors not related to MTG or selling that made the trip an epic failure, I had already went slightly over my word goal and didn’t want to make the article too wordy or go too far off track, hence why I didn’t mention the other horrendous events. I will make sure to specify/clarify those types of items in future articles. Thanks for the constructive feedback!

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