Insider: How You’re Leaving Money on the Table

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Hello! My name is Jeremy, and today we’re going to go over what you’re doing wrong when it comes to buying and selling cards. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with several gaming shops, vend events by myself at the booth, as well as dig for every last nickel over the past several years. I know QS readers expect value for their subscription, and these tips should help you monetize your side hustle a little more without leaving extra money on the table.

Common Mistake #1 - Stacks

If you’ve ever been to a Magic player’s house, the first thing you’ll notice when walking in is cards everywhere. On the kitchen counter, the table, or maybe stacked next to the computer that you the reader are currently sitting at right now. Since you’ve presumably paid to access this content, you need to also keep your cards sorted in a way that is also more premium than the average binder grinder selling cards.

The first thing you should do when branching out into buying and selling is to organize everything. It doesn’t matter if every card is alphabetical, or if it is sorted by color. Every single card that is for sale should be in some sort of pull system. I highly suggest taking a weekend watching your favorite show, sport, or podcast and start organizing the thousands of cards that are gathering dust. After doing this, you won’t have to waste time in the future looking for a card that you misplaced or selling something last minute to a desperate player on Facebook looking for his 75th FNM card.

Another advantage of organizing your cards rather than stacks is being able to be the first one to buylist jank cards in your collection. Most people send their cards to Card Kingdom, but you can also sell bulk cards to Thomas Dodd’s Blueprint and get equal or higher numbers on a lot of stuff that Card Advantage can sell well. Selling bulk helps you in two ways: It clears up your small space where you sell cards and helps you maintain enough capital to play or buy more Magic. A lot of times, older established players will have a ton of nickels in their bulk boxes. By taking a couple hours a weekend, they could easily pay for a trip to a Grand Prix by digging these nuggets out and buylisting them.

While buylisting smaller cards, it is also relatively easy to check your higher-end cards. A lot of the time, the ION Scanner can show obscure cards that have a negative spread. By adding in higher-end cards with smaller spreads in an organized collection, you can essentially double-dip on the time you’re spending buylisting by easily accessing any profitable card in your collection at a relatively quick pace, rather than spending an entire day buylisting a couple hundred dollars worth of nickels.

Common Mistake #2 - Networking

Even if you the reader have never been to a MagicFest, it’s 2019 and we have a ton of data available at our fingertips nowadays. Most vendors post their hotlists online, such as 95MTG, before each Grand Prix. It is also possible to simply message the vendors ahead of time on social media and ask for a buylist before each event two days out.  Vendors want to buy these cards and will happily let you know what cards they are looking for before each show if you ask nicely.

By bringing or mailing cards to these vendors, you start to establish rapport and can help each other out. A vendor may be able to buy an obscure foil for you that you’ve let them know that you are interested in. They may even offer it at a discount in exchange for helping them out with acquiring cards for their hotlist, or for putting someone in touch with them to conduct business.

If you have never been to a Grand Prix, there are plenty of other ways of making money through networking. Quite a few vendors sell on social media via Facebook and Twitter. By staying in contact with these vendors, you can easily acquire hard to find cards for prices well below TCG Market. Another reason networking is useful is arbitrage. Many QS Insiders use the Discord to figure out arbitrage deals, where both parties are essentially guaranteed free money barring reprints or a banning.

By reaching out to a party in Europe or Japan, you can easily save 30% on your Magic card expenses. Furthermore, you can even trade with these parties by shipping them cards that to them are cheap where you live. By establishing these relationships, not only do both parties profit but they help establish you as a person that can get any card as long as the buyer or seller is patient. For example, Sol Ring was for a very long time less than a dollar overseas, while $3 stateside.

It was very profitable to buy a large amount of Sol Rings from overseas and bring them to the states to flip for free money. As more people caught on, like anything in arbitrage, the price of Sol Ring internationally rose to where it is now. Currently, it is far less easy to make money on Sol Ring unless you are a vendor or high-profile seller.

Networking is also essential for capital investment. A lot of readers have messaged me in the past saying that their friend or whoever has a collection that they would like to sell, but that they themselves cannot afford to buy and flip the collection. Many vendors will give a kickback or referral if you pass that business along to them, as they can afford to buy some of the higher-end collections out there. I personally spent much of 2018 flying around the world buying Reserved List collections as prices reached the stratosphere, and it was beneficial to both myself and the person that recommended the collection to me.

By networking, you can help spread the image that you can buy any sized collection locally which establishes yourself as a trustworthy individual that is worth bringing their business to.

Common Mistake #3 - Becoming attached to your cards

If you are selling cards, you should have a clear distinction between your personal collection, and cards that you are selling. Over time, a lot of vendors start to build decks with cards they have acquired. If the purpose of using #mtgfinance is to make playing the game cheaper, then this is a sound move. However, many insiders also sell cards to try and actually profit off of the game. In this case, you should never move cards from your buys into your personal decks, unless you are selling the card to yourself.

It is always a slippery slope to take a card that you have bought to flip and move it into your own deck. Over time, you will start to reason with yourself more and more that you only paid X for a card, so it won’t be a problem. Costs like these add up. With a potential recession on the horizon, you are only hamstringing your capital that you could potentially have to scoop up collections when someone casts Armageddon on the stock market.

Another reason that you shouldn’t be attached to your cards is knowing when to let them go. Say you got a great deal on a foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor from Worldwake. Over time, this card has slowly trickled down as demand has shifted to both cheaper foil Masters set copies and a premium box edition as well. If you had bought a foil Jace from Worldwake for $400 a couple years ago, you’d be barely breaking even nowadays selling the card if you had held onto it.

If you are buying and selling cards for a profit, you should always flip those cards as fast as possible. A successful business can be a business that has low volume and high-profit margins, but the best businesses are the ones that have high inventory turnover and low margins, not unlike Amazon. By selling cards faster and recouping your income, you'll care less about the overall day-to-day of Magic and more about simply making 10-20% on each card that passes through your fingers. It may be more work, but it looks better for your online seller portal metrics as well as the number of customers that you can reach.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, these three easy tips can help you to maximize your returns in order to play the game cheaper or make a little money on the side. Magic Finance is a complex issue with many different ways to maximize your return on the game. However, these general tips should help any reader better approach whichever avenue of finance you decide to follow. Smart practices lead to even smarter returns! If you have any questions, you can always reach out to me on Twitter @MissouriMTG.

4 thoughts on “Insider: How You’re Leaving Money on the Table

  1. Would it be possible to get an article on sorting your inventory in a good pull order?

    Currently I have everything inventoried in WUBRG order, sub sorted by CMC with all my duplicates in penny sleeves, which makes finding and selling cards to local players very fast

  2. What I would love to see is an analysis of labor cost against yield, at scale, between the volume model you describe and the high margin model.

    Yes, the consumer base for 5,000 $10 cards is broader than the audience for 1 $50,000 card. However, the labor costs associated with that volume model are very high, and only increase as it scales.

    The challenge is knowing what the break points are between labor, margin, time and opportunity cost. Solving for that is a point of optimization that I think few Finance folks consider.

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