Conjured Currency #32: Organization Nation

Hey there! Thanks for stopping by this article. Whether its your first time checking out this website, or you’ve been reading my articles since November, I appreciate you all the same. I tend to repeat a lot of things week after week (Craigslist and Facebook are your friends, every person’s goals and resources in MTG finance are different, etc.), and that’s going to hold especially true for this week’s article. I don’t guarantee that my methods and examples shown this week are the best possible option available, and I’m always looking for improvement myself. What on earth am I talking about?

In the past couple of weeks, I received a comment or two asking about how I organize my personal collection (along with the collections that I buy and assimilate into it) for the purposes of buying, selling, and sorting. I’m going to go on a bit of a virtual tour of my binders, boxes, and sorting station, providing rationale on why this system has been working for me in the particular situation I’m in. Before I continue, I’d like to mention that I welcome any readers to share their organizational methods and pictures of their systems as well, as long as this doesn’t turn into a “who’s collection grants them the biggest dick” competition. I don’t want others being belittled for their collection sizes or lack of organization, it’s meant to be a learning experience for everyone. I’m certain that I don’t have the perfect optimal formula for organizing stuff, so if you have a better idea, I’d be glad to hear it!

The Store

I’m one of the lucky individuals who has the connections and opportunity to sell cards at a retail price out of a display case. The case is located in a used video game store (the name of the store is Infinite Lives, for those of you in the northern New York area who want to check it out) where I used to work. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan ahead to take pictures of the case as it is today, but here’s an example of what it looked like last year when I advertised it on Facebook:

Storefront

The store used to be so clean…

I try to sell around TCG low, and then the owner of the store takes his cut. This lets me sell for more than what I’d make on TCGplayer, and not have to deal with shipping cards out. Instead of a price gun (which I should probably invest in; anyone know a good one?), I just use a sharpie to write the price of the card onto the sleeve that it’s in. Another huge benefit of the cards sitting there is that I buy a lot more collections this way. People walk into the store to buy video games and realize that they still have 15-year-old Magic card collections sitting in their closets that they can get rid of for cash.

Obviously, this method doesn’t help everyone and I’m extremely fortunate to have this setup, but I bring it up because I want you to examine the opportunities around you, and be ready to jump on them. If you see a chance to create a mutually beneficial relationship by selling cards (or putting up a sign that you buy collections) in a highly trafficked area, talk to some people and see if you can’t set something up. Corbin and Jason of the podcast took advantage of an opening in the community, and I’m trying to follow in their footsteps a bit. If you have the motivation, cards, and opportunity, why not give it a shot?

“Strat Night”

That’s basically the name of our college’s “Magic Club”, but there are always additional groups playing other board and card games. Every Tuesday night, I load up this luggage case…

Fullcase1

It’s heavy.

…and drag it up to the Campus Center to set up and serve the students and alumni that gather to play a wide variety of formats, from casual 60-card, to EDH, to testing competitive Modern and Legacy decks. After I pull out all of the boxes and binders, my setup looks like this (pieced together with a few terrible phone-quality pictures):

boxes1

Yeah, I’ve got Pokemon stickers on my laptop. Wanna fight about it?

Com Uncom 1

Casual Naruto playmat photobombing

I buy any NM, English bulk rares for $.10 (or trade for them at $.12), then alphabetize and color sort them into the “quarter rare” boxes. Because there’s way too many to clutter up a binder with, I use the 800-count BCW boxes, and allow players to dig through them to find any cards they want. Casual and EDH players love these boxes, because they can get playsets of bombtastic rares like [card]Shipbreaker Kraken[/card] for only a dollar, or Commanders such as [card]Daxos of Meletes[/card] for just $.25. Even if you don’t plan on collecting thousands upon thousands of bulk rares, I recommend keeping a box on hand at FNM if it’ll fit in your backpack. It takes me back to the good old days to see a new player freaking out about [card]Shipbreaker Kraken[/card].

When the boxes get too full of a certain card (I think I have 30+ copies of [card]Forgestoker Dragon[/card]), I’ll pull the extras and take them to a GP, trying to find a vendor who will pay at least $.12 cash on bulk rares.

As the names suggest, any cards whose TCG mid value falls between $1 and $2.99, I throw into my “dollar box” and “2-dollar box” after sleeving and alphabetizing them. These serve basically the same role as the bulk rare boxes, in that players just love to dig through them and pull out sweet cards. This is also where the competitive players in my group will find their playsets of Standard niche cards such as [card]Boon Satyr[/card] and [card]Nighthowler[/card]. The fact that these boxes are alphabetized helps a ton when I do my buylisting orders through Trader Tools, and being sorted by price helps me to “ogre” them at GPs by picking a cash price point and letting the dealers dredge through the boxes to see if there’s any cards they’re interested from the dollar box at $.50 each. Every time a casual player’s eyes light up at a $2.00 [card]Traumatize[/card], an angel gets its wings. Or something like that.

I also separate out promos, foil rares (there’s a couple of Cube enthusiasts who love digging through these boxes every now and again), and then there are my “common and uncommon picks” boxes. These are also alphabetized, and generally get shipped off to buylists. They’re your [card]Jace’s Phantasm[/card]s, [card]Ajani’s Pridemate[/card]s, and generally any common or uncommon card that I think someone else would potentially want for a reasonable deck. Selling [card]Nature’s Claim[/card]s at a quarter a piece is easy when you’re the only person in the room who brings them, and having these boxes sorted alphabetically helps a ton when ripping my finger nails off—I mean buylisting them.

Binders

binders1

I try to keep everything in my binders at least $3.00 TCG mid. People don’t like flipping through playsets of [card]Spirit Away[/card] and [card]Fellhide Spiritbinder[/card] to find actual relevant cards. I sort my binders by color, simply because that’s the most efficient way that I’m used to sorting them. Maintaining alphabetized binders is obviously an absolute nightmare by constantly moving cards around, so I just try my best to keep multiple copies of a single card on the same page or in the same general vicinity.

If you plan on finishing out a page of a binder with a card (or group of cards), remember to leave room for it. The red binder is almost entirely full of shock lands, and I make sure to grant each different shock land at least two empty pages before starting to fill the next land in, so that I can slide in every extra [card]Hallowed Fountain[/card] without having to solve the new edition of Binder Puzzle! every single time.

I personally use Monster binders and sleeve every single card that enters them. I don’t have a whole ton of experience with alternative brands like Ultra Pro, but I can say that I’ve been satisfied enough with Monster that I currently use six of them at any given point. I’ve never had a card fly out while flipping through pages, and I’ve never noticed any damage on my cards from being in the binders. They’re generally available online from anywhere between $25 to $30, but I found a bunch of the ones I currently use at a GP from a vendor who “wanted to get rid of all of the shitty colors” for $20. If you’re planning a trip to a large event, try to see if you can grab deals on the supplies you need!

Also, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I haphazardly tape sticky notes and business cards to every single binder/box that I bring.The business cards aren’t anything special (I got 250 for $7.00 on Vistaprint), and even if you don’t want to present yourself as a “dealer,” they’re a nice way to add your information to your collection so that it can be returned if lost. Just add a name, cell phone, and email address. The sticky notes are just a simple way for me to remember what binder/box currently has what in it, as they tend to change when I get a bright (or not so bright) idea on a better (or not better) way to organize my collection.

Back Home

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Most of the players that know me are aware that I will pay $4 cash on 1,000 common and uncommon bulk cards, as long as everything is NM and English. I try to randomize these as best I can (or leave them color-sorted if they already are), and sort them into 1000-count boxes that I throw up on Craigslist and leave at Infinite Lives. I remember reading a quote by Mark Rosewater (I think) that said approximately 75 percent of players do not have a DCI number and have never played in a tournament before. These are the players that absolutely love buying 1,000 cards for $6 on Craigslist, as long as you don’t include 800 copies of the same card. If those players know that you’re organized and methodical about your business structure, they’ll be more likely to be repeat customers.

playmat

I just recently got the idea to draw up this playmat while sorting a collection a couple of weeks ago, but it’s helped me a bit in keeping everything organized and ready to be sorted/alphabetized into the correct piles. Having a specific sorting station helps me stay focused, and have each type of card always be in the same area to allow quicker placement of cards. Maybe marking up a blank playmat wasn’t the best way to do it though.

I’m Forgetting a Lot of Material, But That’s What Comment Sections Are For

Is this type of article something you’d like to see more of in the future? I definitely missed a few (read: probably a lot) of my collection and organizational processes, but I hope there’s at least something in here that sparked an idea. If not, I’d certainly appreciate reading your take on sorting out your collection, and what the benefits of those methods are. Let me know in the comments section below, on the related Reddit thread in the mtgfinance subreddit, or on Twitter!

About the Author
@Rose0fthorns     -     Email     -     Articles Douglas Johnson is a 20-year-old MTG player who goes to college courtesy of a scholarship from Gamers Helping Gamers. He is currently found writing a weekly finance column at MTGprice.com, and you can always feel free to contact him on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.

8 comments on Conjured Currency #32: Organization Nation

  1. QED2 says:

    I’ve heard a playmat like that can get you kicked out of a GP or other large event. So, be aware and maybe don’t bring it.

    1. Douglas Johnson says:

      I’m aware of that. I keep it at home next to my desk for when I’m sorting through collections that I’ve purchased.

      1. ZMK says:

        What’s wrong with the playmat?

        1. Douglas Johnson says:

          Vendors like ChannelFireball and Strikezone Games pay thousands of dollars in order to have a booth held for them at Grands Prix, where they own the rights to buy and sell cards. A single player who paid nothing to walk into the entry hall with a playmat that has prices written down on it akin to a buyers’ mat is disrespecting those stores’ and doesn’t have the rights to buy/sell cards at that large event.

    2. Jason Alt says:

      That’s great advice for all of the time he spends sorting collections at GPs

  2. Ben Burkett says:

    Hi so i have firstly 3 comments, Post it notes are awful, when they fall off and you don’t notice it can ruin a night trying to figure out where something is.
    Secondly My personal preference is to keep binders full with no gaps so you always know when something is missing. when you sell out of a binder, i can understand it i guess. Personally I have seen to much theft in mtg
    Thirdly, i sort by set for bulk commons/uncommons. It helps when a card suddenly becomes good or the value of xyz card increases because of reprint and people wanting the black border
    and D, (4th comment, heres my e-peen)
    http://imgur.com/a/66rfn
    I need 3 more cubbies and 28 more 800 count boxes to finish sorting my bulk.
    need to find the 30 dividers i bought off ebay to finish sorting the rares and legacy playable playsets in the square boxes.
    Have to find the motivation to find the stuff to do the thing….
    Gonna put them all in one box and deal with this later… worst possible answer.

    1. Douglas Johnson says:

      Sorry, I should have mentioned that the Post-it Notes are very securely taped onto the boxes. They won’t be going anywhere :)

      Thanks for sharing your collection! I love the 3×4 card houses and have two of them that I forgot to take pictures of. Sorting by set AND alphabetically is probably a much better solution than what I’m doing right now, because it makes the buylisting process infinitely easier. I just don’t have the patience or organizational skills to do it myself. I often ed up throwing a bunch of stuff in a box and swearing to finish it later, just like you.

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