An Opportunity Presents Itself
One of my local game stores announced they were doing a Buy/Sell/Trade event where anyone could rent a table for either $20 or $30 (with the $30 tables being 4'x8') so I decided I would try to try to vend it given the buy-in price was so low.
Unfortunately, the game store running the event is one that I haven't been to a whole lot so I didn't know their client base well enough to know what types of cards to bring when I first saw them post the event on Facebook. However, they did have a Discord channel and were happy to let me join it. There, I was able to see what people were looking for and alert potential customers I would have cards they were looking for available to them and to come visit my table. This allowed me to set up three potential transactions before the event even began. Reading through the requested cards on their trade channel it seemed they were very much a casual-oriented venue. This meant that I should tailor my inventory to that crowd, which was an important consideration given the limited table space.
Layout of Table(s)
As I was preparing for this event I measured the binders and boxes I planned on bringing and drew up the table to scale. This allowed me to get a good feel for how I would lay out my table as well as an idea of how much space I might have available. This is important because when vending you typically pay for space, so any wasted space is wasted money. By laying out your area, you can also get a good feel for what signage you will need in order to properly display your wares. I printed off multiple signs that provided pricing information.
One important consideration is how you will display your wares. At most GPs vendors have nice glass display cases which allow people to see what is available, while the seller still remains the only one with access to the cards. I didn't have this luxury as those cases are quite expensive and I don't know how many opportunities I will have to vend. I choose to put all my $1+ cards in sleeves and then into some Monster Binders I owned. I also put bulk rares and good commons and uncommons in a $0.5 per card box for people to leaf through.
It seems there are two main camps to pricing cards. Some stores prefer to not price any cards until purchase. This prevents them from missing out on price spikes as well as requires no upfront work. However, the work is always there, so by not pricing cards one slows down checkout and forces customers to "guess" what things cost. Personally, I don't buy cards that aren't priced in front of me and I know a fair number of other people who feel the same way, so keep that in mind when choosing which route to take. I decided to round my price to the nearest dollar.
After talking with a fellow QS member, I decided that it would be wise to have an extra set of hands to help me run my table. I was worried that should I need any sort of break—be it restroom, drink, or food—my table would be unattended, and while I know that 99% of Magic players are good honest people, there are some that have no issue stealing when the opportunity arises (I had a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and foil Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite stolen out of my trade Binders at a Grand Prix awhile back). I also know that buying cards can take up a fair amount of time and attention, so I wanted to make sure I could do that without ignoring my own customers. Luckily, one of my best friends who plays a lot of Magic was available and was happy to help me out.
The last bit of preparation I did was to figure out how I wanted to transport my inventory. I was able to fit everything I wanted to bring in a large suitcase with wheels, and my backpack. This allowed me to make just one trip from my vehicle to my table, which came in handy given that I didn't know how far from the entrance I would have to park.
Last, but Not Least
I spent a fair amount of time pre-pricing my cards and planning for my first time vending. My parting advice is to come well prepared, so you can make the most of your vending opportunity! Do you have any experience as a vendor at live events? If so, share your tips in the comments. In my next article, I will reflect in more detail on my experience and share my overall thoughts about it.