This article was originally planned to go up back in April of 2020. While some of the information may be a bit out of date, many of the points are still valid; especially given the varying degrees of "lockdown" between different states in the US and different countries around the world. - QS Staff
The world of Magic finance is undergoing a lot of volatility right now along with the rest of the world. While we hope and pray this virus dies down quickly, we have very little control over its lifespan, so we are forced to adapt. Wizards appear to be throwing a lifeline to local game stores (LGSs) in the form of a free undefined amount of Mystery Boosters which will provide much-needed cash for them in a time where many are forced to shut their doors and some of the large operations have even closed down their online businesses. Today I want to break down the options for various types of Magic financiers.
Game Store Owner
If you happen to be a small business owner who owns a game store, you most likely have had to make major adjustments to your play area. This severely limits foot traffic into your business which in turn reduces in-person sales. Depending on your country of origin your government may be offering small business loans to help keep you afloat. I suggest you contact your local/state/federal government to find your options. It would also be wise to contact your landlord if you currently lease your business' building. Times are difficult for almost every business so landlords know that "business as usual" is not something most of their tenants can handle. Some of your options could be:
- See if you can get a reduction in rent during this crisis. Most smart landlords know that the value of their property right now is greatly reduced and that evicting a tenant means they will have no income coming in rather than some income.
- See if you can parlay rent during this crisis. If you have a greatly reduced income currently, but expect it will rebound once the crisis is over then it seems fair to see if you parlay some or all of your rent and pay more rent at a later time to make up for it. For example; if your rent is currently $2000 a month, offer to pay $1200 a month during the crisis with a promise to pay $2800 a month each month following the crisis for a number of months equal to the number of months with the rent parlayed. You can obviously play with the numbers some to find an option you both find reasonable.
- Close up shop with the intent to reopen elsewhere once the crisis is over. Unfortunately, many LGS run on some pretty thin margins and it may be nearly impossible to dig yourself out of any financial hole if you're forced to be closed down for several months. Desperate times call for desperate measures and if you are paying month to month it may be wisest to move your inventory out of the store and close up shop. This option is obviously more of a last resort and also requires you to know if there is any sort of penalty for breaking your lease, which also would need to be accounted for in this decision.
- Look to see if you can quality for a small business loan from a local bank. Interest rates are at all-time lows right now so banks have a strong incentive to lend money.
Online Store Owner
If you don't have a physical presence but your online sales are your main source of income you may have fewer options than someone who owns a physical storefront, but if you are registered as an actual business it would be worth contacting your local/state/federal governments to see what options are available to you. The good news is you likely don't have that high of an overhead cost to keeping your business up and running so that should hopefully prevent the need to close up shop.
Backpack Online Store Owner
This is the category I fall into and I imagine many other readers do as well. If you run an online store on TCGPlayer but it isn't your main source of income and you aren't a registered small business then you have little to no hope of getting assistance from any government programs.
Cash Flow Options
We are currently in a buyer's market. Those who have cash can choose the best deals as many sellers need to cover overhead costs. While I don't suggest fire selling everything in order to maximize your liquidity, now is definitely a good time to review your pricing structure and adjust things downwards. After all, It doesn't help to have a massive inventory but no money to pay rent. Many of us do gain the benefit that the selling marketplace is currently reduced greatly with many of the major stores not shipping out cards which is effectively "closing up shop" for now. So while we have a reduction in overall buyers in the marketplace as people adjust their expenditures, we also have a reduction in sellers which while unlikely to balance things out will help keep the floor from falling out.
- Daily specials- Now is a great time to try and sell inventory that has remained stagnant. There are always cards that one picks up in buys that you know might sell for a good price to the right buyer, but that buyer never comes along.
- Increase trade-in credit/reduce cash payouts- We have already seen many major online retailers, prior to shutting down, do this. Buylist prices started to drop significantly for many cards and many stores balanced it out by offering higher trade-in credit. This is a way to reduce cash outflow but still maintain inventory inflow.
- Branch out to new marketplaces- For stores that haven't done any sales through other marketplaces like Facebook or Craigslist, finding a marketplace with very low transactional costs could be a great way to keep money coming in and maximize profits per transaction.
- Curbside Pickup- I've seen some LGS's offer curbside pickup so that you can still buy cards from them locally, and they will bring your order out to your car. This is a great way to keep your local players engaged with the store.
- Online FNM- Wizards has recently introduced an online FNM option and local stores are given codes for special prize sleeves. Given it costs the store nothing and keeps players engaged with their LGS it seems like a no brainer to sign up for this if you own an LGS.
- Sell store credit. This is something we are seeing some big retailers like CFB do, however, keep in mind this will cost future cash flow.