Vending Preparation: The Second Go Around

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Back in May I vended my first event, and was able to cover it over two articles. I learned a lot of valuable lessons from that first experience, and want to build on those for my second event. With that event coming up, I've got some preparation to do... and am looking to share my head start with you lot at Quiet Speculation!

Pre-Event Marketing

Before the last event began, I had three presales setup via social media ahead of time. While that number isn't massive, it did make sure I would have some known customers, and that I would have cards I knew they wanted.

Unfortunately, two of them were not prepared to buy on-site, as they only had credit cards. As I have been preparing for this event, I have reached out more on my local Magic Facebook groups to let people know three things: that the event was happening, that I would be there, and crucially, where I would be located. I highlighted my specific "booth" location on the overall map the store sent out, included a bigger list of what types of things I would be offering, and emphasized that I was interested in buying, as well.

Booth Location - Venue Layout

Table Layout

While I did consider my table layout to some degree before my first expedition into the world of vending, I didn't dig into the details enough. As a refresher, this is what my table looked like last time.

Table Layout from First Vending Experience

A few things jump out at me as I look over my layout pictures.

  • Horizontal vs. vertical space: I have a lot of things laying out horizontally in this picture. This means that my customers must be standing up close and somewhat over my products to get a good view of them. For my upcoming event, I plan on stacking things and working on a bit of a display stand that will allow me to have more product displayed.
  • Low dollar value per square foot: I had exactly 32 square feet worth of display space. The only things worth more than $15 on that table were a few cards in the purple binder and the sealed commander decks in the back corner. Even worse, the items worth $2 or less take up over half the overall table space.
  • No "hotlist" display: I have been to a fair number of Grand Prix, and one thing that I always check when I first get on site is the vendor "hotlists." Typically these are boards, TV screens, or printouts of the cards the vendor is most in need of, and is paying a premium on. There were a few cards I was looking to pick up that I would have paid more than my going rate on, but I had to "inject" that information into the conversations I struck up with customers, which wasn't ideal.
  • Tall tables: While it may not be apparent from this picture, the space I purchased last time is typically used for their table top games, and is thus higher off the ground to accommodate people standing around it. This meant that I was sitting on a tall stool for four hours, which provided no back support. For my upcoming event, I have purchased two smaller tables of normal height.

Put Yourself in Your Customer's Shoes

2-for-1 box

Previously, I had a "2-for-1 Box" which allowed people to trade in two rares for one rare out of the right side of the box, or purchase two rares for one dollar. There were two issues with this. the first and most obvious was that I should have split the box into two so that people weren't trying to get cards from the left side for two rares. This issue caused some confusion and made for some awkward conversations.

The rate itself was also a bit unbalanced in that I typically offer between 9 and 10 cents per bulk rare, so people were somewhat confused by their rares being worth twice as much when trading into this box. Essentially, this made the box encourage trading in much more than buying.

For this next go around, I have decided to make it a "3-for-1" box, which means that the trade-in value of a rare essentially matches my cash price + trade in bonus and allows people to buy the other cards cheaper.

I imagine many of you are like me in that when you see these boxes at Grand Prix, they call out to you, saying "find my hidden gems!" I am hoping that potential customers will get that same feeling for my new box, which has everything sorted by set to make digging for specific card(s) easier. This is something I personally would prefer when digging, but given it takes up front time for something the vendors typically view as low-value money, I am not surprised they don't.

3-for-1 box

Back on the Block

I am excited to get back to vending, even if it is a small event. I enjoy the face-to-face time with customers that you don't get when selling over the internet. I think that those conversations about decks they want to build and their views on the metagame of various formats serves as both a way to reconnect with people over a game we all love and highlights what type of inventory one should look at picking up for future sales.

Lastly, I pre-priced cards ahead of time, and while it made it easy for people to know how much they were spending and to decide whether or not they wanted to buy a card, it was very time consuming up-front. I don't know if it was worth the effort, so I am still on the fence as to whether I will put in the time again. If anyone else has vendor experience with pre-pricing, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Otherwise... which set would you dive into first at the 3-for-1 box?

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David Schumann

David started playing Magic in the days of Fifth Edition, with a hiatus between Judgment to Shards. He's been playing Commander since 2009 and Legacy since 2010.

View More By David Schumann

Posted in Free, Vending

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