As I mentioned in my previous article, I recently had an opportunity to buy/sell/trade at an event run by a local game store. That article covered all my pre-event preparation, and this article will cover the results. I learned a great deal about what to do, not to do, and watch out for when vending an event. Read on for the goods!
The first thing I had to do when I got to the site was unpack my inventory and set up my table. Luckily, I planned ahead and had almost everything packed up in a suitcase with wheels. This allowed me to get my inventory from my car to my table in one trip, something many other sellers were unable to do. Here's how I set up my table:
Before the event even began, I had 3 orders for some of the local players. The upside was that those orders were more than double what I had paid for the table, which made me feel confident that this was a worthwhile endeavour. However, the majority of the value was in one person's order. And when that person came to my table, he informed me that he had no cash and was hoping to trade for the cards.
This wouldn't be a problem if the orderer has a decently size collection, but in this case, I only had a small handful of cards to choose from. Those cards didn't come out to his order's value even when trading at 1:1.
The situation presented a blow to my moral given that the event started very slow and I was counting on this order to justify vending. Luckily, one of the cards he did have was a Cabal Coffers, which I was able to sell to another player about 30 minutes after getting it. Another pre-sale became a bigger sale when the customer looked through my additional binders.
While I was fortunate to reclaim some value elsewhere, that might not happen every time. It might be a good idea to not bank too hard on presales going through when it comes to assessing if vending an event is worthwhile.
As most big-name dealers will tell you, the reason to vend an event isn't so much to sell cards, but to buy them and build up inventory. I was not sure exactly what to expect on this front, as in my experience, casual players more often than not tend to dislike the idea of trading their cards at less than the going rate and have a harder time accepting the fact that the store needs to make a profit.
Luckily, I had a gentlemen come to me with a small binder full of mostly $10+ cards looking to sell and knowing that I would be offering buylist prices. I was able to purchase a fair number of Modern Horizons 2 fetch lands in various borders and failings at competitive prices that will allow me to turn a profit. Unfortunately, I had to pass on a pretty good condition Gaea's Cradle, as I had failed to bring along jeweler's loupe. I will not buy high dollar older cards without a good inspection.
As this event had a lot of other games and collectibles, its crowd was quite varied. I didn't sell as much as I had hoped, but given it was a 4-hour event and the Magic playerbase at the store isn't that large, I don't think it was a bad vending experience.
One issue I did run into was two potential customers that didn't have cash and wanted to pay with credit cards. I was able to work with a third customer via PayPal, but the first two didn't have it. One key takeaway here is to have multiple payment options set up in advance so as not to miss out on juicy sales!
Another important side of selling was noticing what did NOT sell. Unfortunately, the herculean effort I went through to make cheap draft repacks has seemingly been for naught, as I sold no packs. While some people did ask about them, the idea of reliving old draft formats was not as desirable as I had imagined. I also had no luck moving any of my expensive sealed Commander 2013 decks. I failed to take into account that mostly-casual players do not tend to shell out $100+ for cards. Another lesson: knowing the audience at a given event is key to maximizing your transactions.
Always Getting Better
The same game store announced that they will be doing another of these events next quarter, so I will take the lessons learned from this event and make adjustments to my table layout and inventory strategy. I also expect a better turnout and more prepared customers next time. As with all things, the more you vend, the better you get! Taking stock of the wins and losses at each event can enhance that progress.