I've been writing reviews for GP Atlanta for the past few years now. This weekend I didn't want to break with tradition. I went down on Saturday to see what I could sell off to dealers and to pick up some good trade stock. I am happy with the results of both, which I will dig into.
Every GP I attend—typically just GP Atlanta and GP Charlotte, as I live in South Carolina—I bring a box (or three) of random cheap cards I've picked up in collections. More often than not they are cards that buylist for between $0.1 and $1 (the vast majority) and retail between $0.25-$2.
However, the trick here (as I've said in numerous other articles) is quantity. Every ten $0.1 cards is a whole dollar and those can add up quickly. One of the great things about Magic is that it's easily transportable, and each card actually takes up very little space. A single fatpack can hold upwards of 500 cards (I've actually never counted) which means one full of 10 cent cards ($0.1) can net you $50. It gets even better when you have a lot of $0.25 and $0.5 cards.
As I buy collections and bulk, I sort through and pull out everything worth money, or that could be worth money, and set it in another box to be re-examined when I have time. I then try to semi-organize the box, ideally by putting the same cards together so that when I price things out I only have to look up any given card once.
About a week or two before any GP I'm attending I go through said box and price out cards. Anything selling for $0.1 or more (that doesn't have a ridiculous spread on it) I put into priced-out piles. Once that's done I simply place those piles in fatpack boxes (I can fit three comfortably in my backpack) separated by toploaders that mark the card price of everything behind it. Then I can simply walk up to dealers, tell them that the price in front of each section is what I want per card, and let them take what they want.
One could track every card sold to each dealer, but that would honestly be very time-consuming. One of the major benefits to dealers of buying pre-priced cards is that they can quickly scan through stuff (though most will still look up some prices or their inventory while doing so). They can often look through my boxes in under 40 minutes. If you handed a dealer 1,500 cards and they had to look up each price, it could easily take several hours.
Time is money, and saving it saves both you and them money. It also means you can visit more dealers (I can usually make it to almost all of them in a single day).
Dealers usually bring only so much money, and while they sell a good bit, their main purpose in vending at a GP is to increase their inventory. This means they tend to buy a lot more than they sell. It also means that the earlier in the weekend you get to them, the more likely they'll buy stuff from you. This is why I always sell on either Friday (if I took the day off work) or Saturday morning.
This year I wanted to be a bit more methodical in my approach (partly to give everyone a bit more detail in this article), so I actually did a full count of the number of each card at each value, and added everything up before I left for the GP. I went to GP Atlanta with $889.50 worth of random buylist cards.
I also read through my previous notes/articles and made sure to visit the vendors who have bought the most from me first. I gave them first dibs because they tended to buy more—so in theory if I could sell everything to the first few vendors, I could spend the rest of the time trading or playing side events.
Cape Fear Games
The first vendor I went to was Cape Fear Games. I've had a lot of luck in the past selling to them and I've always found their buyer, Greg, extremely nice and easy-going (which I appreciate a lot). As he got first go at my stuff it's not surprising to note that he bought a lot of stuff, totaling $274.35. That's a huge amount just starting out and a great way to start the day.
Cape Fear Games often buys a lot of random-ish stuff so I bring along a lot of good Commander and Pauper stuff. For tracking purposes, I counted the cards in each price category that the vendors purchased. The table below lists these data.
|Vendor - Cape Fear Games|
As you can see by the table, he bought of a lot of differently priced cards, though clearly liked my prices on a lot of the $0.25 cards.
The next vendor I went to was also very easy-going and we chatted about the venue. When he found out I was mainly selling cards to help pay for my upcoming wedding, we discussed his wedding a bit as well. He didn't find nearly as much as Cape Fear Games, but it was an enjoyable experience and I left with around $25.
|Vendor - Miniature Market|
This buyer too was a fan of my $0.25-priced card selection.
Dave and Adam's Card World
I've definitely bought stuff from these guys in the past (I bought my Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown boxes from them earlier this year). When I sat down and pulled out my boxes the buyer was pretty quick to mention that they don't really like to buy anything under $5. So I thanked him anyways and moved on.
I made sure to ask any vendors I went to after this if they had any bottom limits on what they would buy. Luckily, these guys were the only ones who seemed to.
I've had a good bit of success with Coolstuff Inc before so I had actually meant to go to them second (after Cape Fear Games), but their buyers were busy. Sometimes you just audible and go to whichever buyer is available. The buyer for Coolstuff was very professional but not all that chatty. Still, he was able to find a little less than $40 worth of stuff so my 30 minutes with him was well worth it.
|Vendor - Coolstuff Inc|
He clearly liked the $0.5 card options the most.
The Channel Fireball buyer was also pretty quiet, but also really efficient. He was able to find a good bit of stuff in my boxes. Going back through my numbers now, I actually have a small discrepancy in value so the numbers don't match up exactly. I don't know if I wrote down the buy counts wrong or what, but I got $127 from them when I should have gotten around $132. I imagine it was an incorrect count on my part as I don't see CFB doing anything shady.
On a different but interesting note, as I was sitting there at the buyer table, the gentleman next to me was selling them a ton of Near Mint 93-94 cards and I remember the buyer being surprised at how good a condition so many of the cards were in. When I left the booth he'd sold them over $4,000 and hadn't even gotten into Arabian Nights yet. With older cards like that "NM" is a bit more subjective, and they didn't care as much that most of them were definitely LP.
|Vendor - Channel Fireball|
CFB liked my $1 cards a lot. I believe they bought all my Mystic Remoras that I've been sitting on for about two years now.
Card Monster Games
The buyer here was easy to talk to. While he didn't find much, it was understandable, as I'd already sold over $450 worth of stuff. We talked a bit about Pauper (which is mostly what he bought).
|Vendor - Card Monster Games|
He did find a lot of $0.5 cards and bought $11.75 worth of cards. Not terrible for about 25 minutes worth of selling, but not anything to write home about.
Pink Bunny Games
The seller at Pink Bunny Games was wearing a big pink suit (with top hat) and was yet again another easy-to-talk-to and nice gentleman. We even had to pause mid-selling so a guy could get a good picture of him (which didn't bother me at all). He was able to find some lower-end stuff and I ended up leaving the booth with another $20.
|Vendor - Pink Bunny Games|
The Comic Book Store
As usual the buyer here was a nice guy that was happy to talk with me while he looked through my stuff. At this point in the day I felt I'd likely sold most of what I was going to sell, and after he only found about $10 in cards I called it a day.
|Vendor - The Comic Book Store|
There were several vendors I didn't make it to, but it's important to include them on this list and my reasons for not doing so.
- Star City Games - Obviously everyone knows SCG and they typically have a line in front of their selling booth. Usually I see players unloading large collections to them which takes a ton of time, and I prefer to just find a vendor whose buyers aren't busy. I've actually never tried to sell them pre-priced stuff before mainly because of this, so if I ever walk by and they aren't busy I will definitely test the waters to see if they would buy pre-priced cards.
- 95 - This was basically the Hareruya games booth with a different logo. I've tried selling to them in the past, but they tend to only want cards in the $3+ range. They do seem to operate on the profit-by-volume-of-transactions methodology that Aethergames used to do, but my past experiences hinted that I would likely not have much success with them as my cheap buylist stuff had never interested them in the past.
- Troll and Toad - I have never had any luck with T&T in the past with pre-priced cards. I've sat down with their buyers on two previous occasions and walked away with $0 both times. That being said, I have a lot of praise for them when it comes to buying.
- Card Logic - I had really hoped to try to sell to these guys, but their buyers always seemed to be in the middle of transactions every time I walked by.
- ARG - I had the same problem with these guys as with Card Logic; their buyers were pretty busy the whole time I was at the event.
- The Sourcery - I don't actually recall seeing these guys at the event. There was one booth spot next to Cape Fear Games that wasn't being occupied and I wondered if they backed out.
- MTG Deals - I've had a lot of luck in the past selling to these guys as well and I really wanted to hit their booth up, but yet again they were always busy. I've also found that after I've sold about 50-60% of what I've brought with me that most dealers don't find much they need and there is diminishing returns waiting on buyers to open up.
I didn't just sell cards at this GP. I actually spent a good bit more than I had expected to, but luckily still came out in the black (thanks in large part to selling around $509 worth of stuff).
Normally when I buy cards at GPs I have specific targets in mind.
- Cards I'm speculating on that I feel have a strong chance of growing by at least 50% in value.
- Heavily Played (HP) Commander staples that I can easily trade at a good value to players locally, especially if they are very underpriced.
- Cheap Reserved List rares that see at least some eternal play (whether it be Commander, Legacy, Vintage, or Modern).
I didn't actually have any luck with the first bullet. I did see an HP Judge foil Bribery I was tempted to pick up for $15, but I've found that HP foils are a lot harder to unload because most players who are willing to pay the premium to foil out their decks want good-looking foils.
However, the last two I did extremely well on. The first thing I do whenever I go to any GP is hit up the Star City Games HP section, and they didn't disappoint this year. If you get there early (we were there around 9:30) you can typically get a lot of really good deals and pick up some solid trade fodder at a steal. The first thing I bought for the day was a $20 Spanish Yawgmoth's Will that's in pretty good shape (and I directed my friend with me to buy the other one or I'd buy it too, as he was waffling over it for his own Commander deck).
My other big finds were at the Troll and Toad HP cases, which had a ton of value in them if you knew prices. My buys from this section include:
- 2x Gaea's Cradles for $145 each
- 1x Mind Over Matter for $6
- 2x Morphlings (for $1 and $2 each)
- 1x Magistrate's Scepter for $2
- 1x Meditate for $2
- 1x Mana Echoes for $5 (and I regret not buying the second one they had)
- 1x Thawing Glaciers for $3
Of these purchases, only two of them were not on the Reserved List (Mana Echoes and Magistrate's Scepter) and most were purchased at 50% or less of their NM retail price. I already have one potential buyer lined up for one of the Cradles (which is my absolute favorite card to pick up because they are so highly in demand from Commander players), and I can easily move the other for a decent profit as well.
Two other interesting notes from this trip. I waffled on picking up a few Japanese Spike Weaver's from the SCG HP section at $3 each (they had like 12 so I wasn't too worried). When I finally went back to buy a couple, the gentleman in front of me had a tablet with MagicCardMarket up that he was using to look up a lot of cards. He ended up buying all 12 copies.
I was a bit upset with myself for not buying an $11 card for $3 earlier. I do tend to avoid foreign Commander cards that aren't extremely well known, as I don't like explaining what they do to people. Still, I think that sometimes it's worth it if the discount is high enough.
The other very interesting note is that while talking with the vendors I found out that CFB was raising the cost of vendor tables per event to $8,000+. That is much higher than the current rate, and was upsetting to the vendors. This may mean that some early GPs next year may have a lot fewer vendors at them and could hurt GP attendance overall.
I'm honestly still baffled that Wizards would instill a monopoly on one particular vendor simply for "consistency and quality of player experience," and not consider that this could easily do the opposite. With a monopoly there are no checks and balances regarding vendor booth prices, judge pay, or player entry fee cost. I will withhold passing judgment until after I go to a CFB GP next year, but I am a quite concerned with WotC's decision to do this.