I’m going to start this week’s article by linking to another person’s article from another website. Last week, Travis Allen explained how the margins on speculation are often lower and riskier than someone who is not accustomed to the workings of MTG finance would expect. As somewhat of a follow-up to that article, I’d like to explain one of the alternative methods to speculating that tends to yield a much higher return on investment, and at the same time can provide a valuable service to the community. Go ahead, read Travis’s piece. I’ll wait.
…. Are you back? Cool. It was an incredibly well written article that should hopefully help dispel the myth that speculators are making out like bandits when a card doubles, triples, or even quadruples in price. It’s very difficult to make significant money on actual blind speculation, not counting the [card]Master of Waves[/card]/[card]Thassa, God of the Sea[/card] situations where we have insider information from a pro tour leak.
The alternative method that I want to discuss this week does require a significant amount of disposable income, or the ability and dedication to make repeated short-term flips to maintain an open cash flow. It’s not for everyone, but my goal is that someone reads this article and realizes: “Hey, I could do that.” If the title is any indication, our discussion this week is on how you can act as your local area’s buylist. If you know that you can pay better than your LGS, or if you can work with your LGS when making buys, then you can help out the players in your area and sometimes even the local store. It’s a lot easier to make incremental increases in your inventory and funds when you make other people aware that you’re almost always willing to buy something for buylist prices, and then resell it at a later date.
Be patient. If you go around on every Facebook page and constantly nag people about buying their cards at buylist, they won’t want to sell, and with good reason. Just be patient, friendly, and wait for opportunities. Magic is an expensive hobby, and people tend to overextend their budget into it. When life hands out unexpected inconveniences and people need to sell specific pieces of their collection, you can be ready with cash in hand.
About a month ago, I wrote about how we don’t necessarily need the cards that we think we do, we just want them. In my opinion, one of the core requirements to providing this service is that you make sure that when you buy cards at buylist prices, you don’t need the cards you buy. If you are offered to buy cards that you do actually want for personal deckbuilding objectives, then be honest with the person you’re doing business with, and offer up a little more than you normally would.
I recommend having access to the major retailers’ current buylists, so you always know how much to offer on a card. If you’re a Quiet Speculation Insider, you probably use Trader Tools at mtg.gg. If not, MTGPrice.com has its’ own free tool that collects current buylist prices and provides them for you to use. As a general rule, I try to almost match the highest current buylist price, so that if worst comes to worst, I can immediately out the card with no net loss.
Be fair with pricing even if you know they’ll accept less. If you buy a [card]Hallowed Fountain[/card] from one of your friends for $5, then don’t offer someone else $4 if you know they need the money badly for car repairs and you’re sure they’ll accept it. Pick a number and stick to it for as long as your inventory allows. If you start to buy too much to the point where you feel the need to lower your buy number, then you’re probably not performing enough inventory turnover, and I’ll redirect you to my fellow BSB writer Anthony Capece to learn about that issue. Keep your buy price static until you move what you have. Then there’s no cross talk between your customers about who got paid what.
What About the LGS?
If you’re still reading at this point, then you didn’t instantly close the browser when I mentioned the prospect of giving better prices than your LGS. Good. I’m sure that I lost quite a few people by bringing up the thought of purchasing cards at buylist prices instead of directing people to your friendly local game store, but hear me out. I’m not trying to say you should bring a massive trenchcoat to FNM and buy singles from under the store owner’s nose. Don’t do that. Don’t even pull the lame trick of going out into the parking lot/across the street to do your cash deals. The store owner has rent to pay, and he’s letting you play there. We all know it’s a dirty move. However, your LGS doesn’t have domain over the entire town or city that you reside in. They have their margins that they have to make, and you have yours. Yours are probably a bit more flexible because you don’t have to keep the lights on in a business. I don’t think it’s unethical to suggest offering higher prices than the store while outside of their domain.
In addition, I’ve been in multiple situations where it’s entirely possible to work together with your store so that literally everybody wins. If you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) enough to have a store that doesn’t deal in singles, then you can be the one to provide that service, and get a ton of business by asking the owner to politely direct singles purchases towards you. At another store I’ve come across in my travels, the owner was only able to offer a miniscule amount of store credit for players’ singles, not cash. Since the player was going to spend the credit anyway, I proposed that I buy the cards for more cash than was being offered in store credit. I got the cards at buylist prices, the player got more value for his cards that he didn’t want anymore, and the store owner got actual cash in his register instead of just the player spending store credit. Everyone wins!
Be Your Own Buylist
Obviously some of these are pretty niche situations that won’t apply to a ton of readers, but the moral of the story is that it’s still entirely possible to buy cards at buylist prices locally if you’re patient, polite, and know your outs and margins well enough. I started out doing this a few years ago just by being the first to respond to Facebook posts of friends. If you have the income (or can flip the items you acquire for a fast profit), then this can be a way to help those in your community while increasing your available funds for Magic.
Do you disagree with any of my personal ethics on the area that an LGS has? Do you have any other suggestions that slipped my mind while writing the piece? Your comments are often just as important as what I write, so I’d love to hear them.