Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Idiot's Guide to Selling Cards

Hi everyone, I apologize as it has been a few weeks since I've last posted, but I have basically gone full-bore into my re-transition into Magic and out of Yugioh. It has been interesting as people locally have caught wind of this and suddenly I'm "so out of the game" that either my opinion doesn't matter any more or I have no concept of rulings any more, which is quite laughable on both accounts. Like I have said before, even if I am not playing the game I will still have an idea of what is going on, what the cards do, event results, etc. I can easily start YGOPRO and play a game of Yugz. Owning paper cards has become pointless and simply a bad investment to play the game locally. On our local Spokane Facebook group one of my friends (who says he is very serious about playing again) asked what Farfa "stood for", as if it was an acronym for something when another person had mentioned how good Farfa is. Now I guess I can see how he thought Farfa was a new combo or deck type or something, but I knew what Farfa was weeks before the set was even released. I had to explain that it was a single BA card. That is the difference between being "active but not playing" vs "not active but playing". Some seem to automatically think that if you aren't playing you're not active. I don't care how often one plays at tournaments, I'd rather be well-researched and out of practice than well-practiced but clueless.

As for Magic, I had Mardu Midrange after I won an eBay auction for a main and side and took it to an FNM but I personally didn't like how the deck flowed. My sideboard wasn't complete enough to address certain match-ups which I hadn't expected to be there. I went a decent 2-2, unfortunately I got mana screwed games 1 and 3 in my round 1 match and blown out by Green Black Devotion (Constellation?). I feel that if I had won my first match, which I am fairly sure I would have if not for being stuck on 2 land game 1 and only Mountains game 3, I would have finished well enough for prizing. I know people roll their eyes when you say you lost because of mana screw, but here is what happened. In game 1 I was on the draw and opened 2 land, a 2-drop, and 4 other cards (which I don't remember at this time). I figured being on the draw, by my 3rd turn I should have drawn into a 3rd land so most of my cards would be live at that point and the hand was keepable enough. Unfortunately that 3rd land didn't come till about my 6th turn, and at that point I was simply too far behind. In game 3 I was forced to mulligan due to having 1 land in my starting 7, and in my opening 6 I opened double Mountain, Hordling Outburst, and 3 other cards. I figured if I topped another land at least I could cast Outburst and if I drew a land which could produce non-red mana I was good. Unfortunately I drew into another Mountain and that was it for the rest of the game. I personally hate the idea of having to mulligan down to 5 since the odds of opening a playable hand goes down dramatically. I still feel that both of my decisions to keep at the point that I did were sound. Even though it was only 1 FNM I had a strong enough of an experience throughout the tournament to where I could tell that the deck had certain paradoxes that I didn't want to be responsible for for solving. I didn't end up getting mana screwed throughout the entire tournament or anything, I could just tell it almost felt too reliant on certain 2-card combos to be truly efficient. I ended up beating a Jeskai deck and a mirror match in case anyone was curious what my 2 wins were lol. I would imagine there's a reason why Mardu's good results seem to come in waves- sometimes you see it top quite a bit, sometimes not at all. In any regard that was enough reason for me to sell Mardu and make the switch to Abzan, which I am waiting for my last few cards to arrive in the mail. Once that happens I want to make my strong push to play again regularly, at least as regularly as I can. I don't have aspirations to be on the Pro Tour or anything, I just want to play a game where I know people will show up and with so many showing up the prize support will justify my deck investment.

The rest of this post is dedicated to the title of said post, basically an "idiot's" guide to selling cards. I use the term idiot very loosely and it is not meant to cause offense. Basically I have seen a lot of "idiotic" practices lately, locally, to where I wanted to write about how people "should" do things, or at least take those things into consideration when it comes to selling cards. A lot of what I have to say should just be common sense. Now if it's not I am not saying you're an idiot. If you learn something or have an "a-ha" moment, that's great. If it's all "well no shit Sherlock" for you, that's great cuz you are experienced enough to where this is common sense. Sorry for having wasted your time in that case.

Concept 1: Selling in "tiers"
When I sell cards, I use this concept/philosophy all the time. Essentially my preferred method of selling is to sell in 3 "waves" or "tiers". 1) sell locally, 2) sell to the vendor/ebay, 3) sell a "bulk" binder on eBay. For the most part, selling in this manner has allowed me to maximize my profits while also clearing the majority of whatever it is I'm trying to sell. It shouldn't be any sort of earth-shattering news that selling locally is the best way to sell a card. This isn't taking into consideration outlier scenarios like your local being entirely composed of people with no jobs, no disposable income, or on the other end of the spectrum where everyone pre-orders everything they want, and only order online and don't buy locally. I have to assume that people are willing to buy cards locally. When you sell locally you don't have to pay any fees, don't have to ship anything, don't have to have a Paypal account, etc. Usually it's a straight cash-for-card transaction. I will talk about using discounts in its own section later on. From there, after I've sold off what I could locally, my next move is to sell to the vendor (usually CoreTCG) or try my hand at eBay. This is where you have to be a little picky since sometimes it's "worth it" to sell a card to the vendor, other times not. For example recently I sold my friend's DT Lavalval Chain for him and I had 2 options: sell it to Core for $20, or try my hand at eBay. I had seen that DT Chains were going for around $40, so clearly the better option was to try and sell it on eBay. Fees and shipping generally account for 14% of an eBay sale, so if the card sold for $40 I would end up with roughly $34.40. The extra $14 was worth the trouble. I ended up accepting a best offer of $35 for it, to where the final value was basically $30. An extra $10 is still an extra $10 so ultimately this was still worth it. If that margin was $3 or less it would be debatable I think. I suppose there could be a 3rd category within this grouping of "Facebook/trade forum" with Pojo being a trade forum for example. There are a lot of big Facebook groups where you can sell your cards to other people and the Pojo trade forum is still going strong after all these years. I personally don't partake in these methods any more but this would be a viable option since you aren't having to pay fees and shipping can be negotiated. Paypal Gift is a good option. You just have to trust that you won't get ripped. And finally, after I've gotten rid of stuff that was worth selling to the vendor or on eBay, I create a binder that I can sell on eBay. A lot of times this is entirely comprised of bulk holos, cheapy rares and commons, or sometimes good cards that the vendor just wasn't buying at the time for what ever reason. This is a good way to just "get rid of everything else" and I will talk more about that in a bit.

Concept 2: Being cheap can cost you in the long run
In a nutshell, this concept says that those who are so stingy that they need to get every single dollar out of a deal they possibly can, can end up losing out in the long run. Previously I had highlighted how my friend's $40 Lavalval Chain pocketed him $30. This was good since otherwise he would've got $20 from the vendor, but let's say we had tried selling this locally. A lot of times I see people be very firm in their prices, to where they would say "it's $40 on eBay so I want $40 for it." They feel that since that's how much it would cost that person to order it online, they should be willing to pay that price, especially for the convenience of not having to wait for it to be shipped to you. I understand that logic and it's not necessarily flawed if you look at it strictly in that sense. As for me, I have always utilized a general "85% of eBay" pricing system for whenever I'm try to sell something, especially quickly. In this Lavalval Chain example, I would have been plenty happy to sell it for $35. I am making more than if I had sold it online, but more importantly, I MAKE MY CUSTOMER HAPPY. People underestimate the importance of this so much. By accepting to sell my card for a discount, I present an image that I am looking out for this person and am reasonable to do business with. The customer leaves happy knowing he got a deal and now has more reason to come back to me for any future card purchases. In his mind he'll know he can get cards off me for less than online, and in my mind I know I'll have a higher payout than if I had sold it to the vendor or eBay.  Having future guaranteed sales is much more valuable than getting that immediate gratification of knowing you squeezed that extra $5 out of the person. People don't realize this, and wonder why they can't sell stuff locally that often or why they're perceived as being a cheapskate. With this, it's also important to remember that Yugioh cards depreciate- FAST. I'm not saying that Magic cards don't, because they certainly do, but very rarely do Yugioh cards retain value due to the "random" nature that is reprints, the ban list, and power creep. In Magic you can keep Standard cards that are powerful enough to impact Modern and Legacy, and generally those cards will go up as time goes on. Chances are it's not getting randomly reprinted. I wish I still had my $20 Tarmogoyfs from way back when, because now they are worth roughly $150 a piece, even after seeing a reprint in Modern Masters (albeit it was a low-printed set). That really doesn't happen in Yugioh because reprints make a card extremely easy to get or the card just isn't viable any more. But back to my point, for the most part it's much better to sell Yugioh quicker, even at a discount, than holding out for more to the point that your card is now worth less than if you had sold it in the first place for that initial discounted price. I know sometimes cards do spike, Denko being a recent example, but that is not a reason to be stingy on everything. For every 1 "loss" you might have, you'll have 9 that could be considered "wins", and that's a damn good ratio.

Concept 3: Image is everything
It is true that we live in a visual-stimulus based society. We want with our eyes. We like shiny things, the bigger and fancier the better, etc. This being said, why is it that people seem to think it's acceptable to make listings, or Facebook posts, with no pictures, description, detail, or anything? For example I've seen local posts like "selling my binder for $200, hit me up" or "selling my Satellarknight deck, it's worth $200 but I'll let it go for $170." And that's it. No pictures, no decklist, nothin. Now it is true that if one was interested enough that they could inquire and say "pictures/decklist please", but as an immediate-gratification/"we want it now" society, what reason do we have to bother having to do so? Especially taking into consideration that they're going to have to PM each person pictures of whatever it is they're trying to sell. Seems like a complete waste of time when those pictures could have been posted originally. You don't see eBay listings without pictures, you don't see Craigslist ads without pictures. Or if you do, chances are those are the auctions that aren't being sold. I know if I look at a Craigslist ad, I immediately ignore it if it doesn't have pictures. When you go to McDonald's there is no such thing as "mystery burger" where you literally have no idea, not even visually, of what you're buying. At the grocery store you don't see a "mystery box of groceries" being sold for $20. People don't like having to wonder when it comes to spending their money. Now if it is a raffle or "grab bag" kind of thing then yes that can be understandable, but when you give info you should provide all the info. Now I understand that sometimes if you buy a used car or a house for example, you don't get all the details for the best interest of the seller. They are afraid that if the buyer knew, it would lead to a no-sale. This is just straight up dishonesty in my opinion, and like I mentioned before they would not have a returning customer. In certain scenarios it won't matter because if I bought the house I'm probably not buying another one next week, but for the most part, for most goods, it will have an impact.

This concept connects back to the eBay "bulk" binder I mentioned previously. With good presentation, you can make shit look like gold. When I'm reduced to a large amount of bulk, what I do is try to take 12 "really good" pictures, at least the best that I can. What I mean is even if the best things you have left are $1 or $2 holos, take as many of those cards you have, and take pictures of those. Lump them together as much as you can, rather than spreading them out to where you might have 1 on each page of your binder. The reason for this is eBay has a picture limit of 12. And since people like pictures, and they like shiny things (aka desirable items), you want to take the 12 pictures that shows as much good stuff as possible. Because all of the other pages, unless you're gonna go through the trouble of typing it all out, don't even matter. If you have a page of Secret Tour Guides but they're not pictured or placed in your description, to the buyer it's not going to matter. Now I know that is an extreme example and if you had a page of Secret Guides you would include a picture of that, but the point is that beyond those 12 pictures it doesn't really matter unless you specifically state what those pages comprise of in your listing. So make those 12 pictures really count! I usually don't even resort to using 2 of the pictures being pictures of the binder itself, because in my opinion if someone is going to buy a binder of cards from you, they're way more interested in the cards than the binder itself. The binder is basically a throw-in but it's also important that it's not basically falling apart at the seams. Again, presentation. Also, the way you lay out your binder is also key. What I mean is organize the shit into categories- what I do is XYZs, Synchros, Other (Ritual/Fusion/Pendulum), Effect monsters, then spells and then traps, with each type having an order based on rarity going from Secret to Common. People don't like looking at a page in your binder where you just have a random vomit of a Synchro, 2 Spells, 2 XYZs, a trap, 2 effect monsters, and a normal Hidden Arsenal monster. It just looks unprofessional, a jumbled mess, and more importantly it makes it look like YOU DON'T CARE. If I'm wanting to buy something from you but my perception is that you don't care, then how confident could I be that your cards are even in good condition, or that you took care of them, when you don't care enough to organize your binder? Again, perception and presentation are everything when it comes to selling. I have sold binders of cards that wouldn't have otherwise been movable locally or even to the vendor. If you have bulk cards and bulk binders, this is an excellent way of clearing your inventory. But you have to care enough to make it look like you care, and that comes in the presentation. Everyone has a cell phone these days and thus access to a camera. Internet is also accessible. So don't be lazy, and don't make excuses. Put in the effort and you will find that, over time, you'll be paid back for it.

Concept 4: Trade for value
I know that many have the mindset that trading a $100 card for 100 $1 cards is stupid. A lot of the times, yes, that is stupid because it's easier to move a single sought-after card than a hundred cards that aren't. But in some cases, what if no one locally is willing to pay $100 for it? Or the vendor is paying $70 on it, and if you sold it on eBay you'd get $85? And in the same light, what if the vendor was paying the full $1 on those 100 cards? You can see that if your intention was just to get money, selling those hundred cards for $1 each would be more profitable. Again this is an extreme example but it can go to show you that sometimes trading down can be the profitable move. A lot of the times when you trade down you can get a higher trade value out of it, and depending on what cards you're getting, can potentially flip those cards to a large number of people for potentially higher profit. Let's say instead of 100 $1 cards you got 5 $20 ones, or lucky enough to get 6 (which would already be a profit). What if one of those cards suddenly spiked to $40 and one of those you were able to trade for a $25 card? Now you're in an even more profitable position. This can connect back to the basic stock philosophy of diversification - basically you don't want all your eggs in one basket, cuz if that basket were to be dropped you would lose all your eggs. Again, simple concepts, but you see a lot of people, especially the hoarder types, with pages of some X card that's really valuable, and suddenly it gets reprinted or it does bad at a YCS and just as suddenly they lose a great amount of value that they can't regain. It's important to be mindful of buylist prices since there are a lot of "random" cards that you wouldn't initially guess would have value, but actually do, at least to a vendor. A person might gladly trade their Magician of Black Chaos or Dark Paladin away because there is simply no playability value to them and in return receive something actually playable. In those cases I don't see the trade as being a "rip" of any kind, when both sides are happy with what they received.

That about wraps up my personal philosophies in selling cards. These concepts can be applied to selling anything, in general. Of course these are generalities and I'm not trying to say "you HAVE to include pictures if you want to sell something", but I don't think I'm entirely out of the ballpark in these concepts. I have been selling things ever since I was a little kid so I feel that I have some sense of what I'm talking about. Very rarely have I ever gotten "stuck" with something, again this ties back to flipping sooner rather than later. "A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush", even though it may be a cheesy saying, is certainly true.

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