I’ve finally unburdened myself from the two large card collections I bought last month—after being locked in a room with for what feels like forever—and I did it through buylisting. It was no quick process sorting through tens of thousands of cards and getting them shipped off, but it was rewarding.
Like the alchemist who turns lead into gold, buylisting allowed me to convert what was essentially someone else’s junk into treasure. I turned bulk pickings into the holy grail of Magic cards, the Power 9—I’m so excited about the order I just placed for a Timetwister, paid for through buylisting. It will join the Chaos Orb I bought recently with proceeds from the collections, along with a stack of dual lands.
I didn’t actually find these old and valuable cards at a garage sale or on a Craigslist ad like everyone dreams of, but that’s essentially what happened when I buylisted these collections. There’s really no secret to what I did—just a lot of work. But today I want to share some tips I learned in the process that will help your next buylisting endeavor be more efficient and more profitable.
Time Is Money
The secret ingredient in this buylisting alchemy is time. It took a lot of time to convert the collection into the cards I wanted, or the cash I could have taken. Every step of the process takes time: from searching for collections to buy, trading for them or acquiring them in some other way, searching through them for cards to buylist, submitting and organizing orders, to getting them shipped off.
All of these steps offer opportunity to be more efficient, or alternatively to waste time. Being mindful of time and looking for ways to save it is of the utmost importance. As such, some of the tips I share today relate to minimizing time spent, as well as maximizing profit earned.
One of the major places time is spent buylisting is physically searching through cards. Not only is time spent when selecting cards to sell, but also when sorting them after submitting a buylist, as they are typically required to be sorted in alphabetical order by set.
I find that one of my major time wasters is sorting after submitting a buylist, as I end up creating one large stack I have to sort at the end. Last night I had to sort a rather large order. To help me I used sorting trays to sort into set, which made the process of putting it together in order much simpler. In the future I could save this time by incorporating sorting by set into the buylisting process when I list each card, which would save a significant amount of sorting later on.
Use the Ion Scanner and Trader Tools
Another excellent way to save time during the act of buylisting is by making use of Quiet Speculation's Ion Scanner. The software turns your camera into a Magic-scanning machine that will identify the card and tell you the best buylist price available.
This is an incredibly efficient way to find out what a card is worth, which cuts to the heart of what buylisting a collection is: skimming the cream from the top of the rest. It removes the step of having to search for the price of a card, which is painstaking because it means searching multiple buylisting in order to ensure you’re getting a great price.
Even without using the Ion Scanner, you can add efficiency to the buylisting process by searching the card database on Trader Tools, which compares prices across multiple buylists. Taking it to the next level is when you combine the two technologies by using Trade Routes. This feature pushes the list of cards scanned directly to Trader Tools. Then it tells you what store is giving the best price for each card on your list, and finally can send this list directly to the buylists without the need for you to upload these cards individually. Talk about saving time!
If you have a QS Insider subscription and you're not using any of these tools, I highly recommend giving them a second look.
The collections I bought were not full of choice cards. In fact, I was told explicitly that one had been stripped of anything “worth more than $20, five years ago.” Rather than quality, I had quantity: an enormous amount of cards, including the stock of an old store containing fifty set binders from Future Sight back to Arabian Nights.
Getting full value from the collection required digging deep into uncommons and commons, and selling essentially everything that stores would buy. Because they will buy almost anything for the right price, I sold cards down to a nickel. It’s amazing what stores will buy, and I sold a ton of cards that I never thought would be worth more than bulk. By selling playsets of bulk-level cards for a nickel each, I was able to make them more than worth my time.
Weigh Store Credit
An important thing to realize about buylisting is that each buylist is not created equal. At the basic level, getting the best price for your cards means just comparing each buylist and selling to the one with the best price. This is simple enough if you are selling for cash, but it gets murky if you are instead taking the option for store credit.
Not only is credit sensible for anyone who plans on buying cards in the future, it’s also just a more profitable move in many cases. Trade bonuses tend to be generous, and can be used to buy high-dollar cards, which can in turn be sold for more overall profit.
The real key to store credit is not which store gives the biggest bonus, but their card prices. At minimum, awareness of the prices of cards you want to buy is critical to determine the relative price compared to other buylists. It might mean selling to a store with a lower price is actually a better move, so if you’re taking store credit always be sure to set your sights on a target before listing.
One buylisting factor to keep in mind is the last step, shipping. This is more complex than just sending an envelope with a few cards. Shipping efficiently means knowing your options and planning around them by figuring out the best way to ship what you have. In general, economy of scale is at play, and it grows cheaper per card the more you have to ship.
Because I had so many to ship, I amassed my orders over the course of days before shipping them out. In general, you want to take advantage of flat-rate shipping options, like USPS’s medium and large boxes, which ignore weight and can be packed full of cards. These boxes also ship anywhere in the USA for the same price, so they get around the zone-based shipping prices of other options that make shipping to the other end of the country more expensive.
Another option is USPS Parcel service, which ships just about anything for a discount rate at the cost of speed. I often used to make my own shipping boxes to send out for buylisting—just deckboxes wrapped in my own home-made boxes from whatever cardboard was handy—and this service made shipping them easy.
I also recommend avoiding having to buy postage at the post office, because you can do it at home. Not only will you make sure you are choosing the best option, it’s also just cheaper by design. One of the best things I learned was that anyone with a PayPal account can use it to purchase shipping at a discount.
I’ve found I can ship at least 4,000 cards in a large flat rate box (actually a bit more). At $17.65 for the PayPal price, this comes out to under half a cent per card, so it’s profitable to buylist anything being bought for even a penny.
What buylisting tips and tricks do you have?