MTG Singles Selling, Trading, Buying – Opinions May Vary.
MTG Single cards, whether selling, buying or trading has for many years been a fairly brisk business for us at Docking Bay 93. Once we get a popular card in its sometimes only minutes before its heading back out the door safely trapped inside a new deck or secured in a binder. On a moderately normal month, single sales and tournament buy ins can account for up to 20% of this locations revenue. So this is something I lay awake in the dark thinking about.
Our trade pricing policies have not changed much over the years. We typically use or match to Card Kingdom as a price guide (as they are the largest major card vendor in our area) and sell with minimums for each rarity. With the time and effort needed to curate a good selection it means we have to stick to a few minimums so we can keep the lights on. Have you ever tried to sort cards or play MTG in the dark? I’m told its not recommended.
Our minimums are as follows, I believe a lot of shops up our way do very similar and I honestly encourage other shops to do so as well, racing to the bottom is never a good business practice and there are other better ways to be rid of bulk. Regardless…
We sell our commons for no less than 25 cents per card, our uncommon cards for no less than 50 center per card and no rare or mythic rare for less than $1. I know there are many card sellers out there that can beat those prices and I don’t lose much sleep over it, what we do offer though, is covering the tax for you, yes I pay it out of our store coffers. This makes it kind of a wash sometimes against other pricing, which I’m happy to accommodate in the long run. Its also keeps trade ins very simple.
Our trade policy also has rarely changed but I’ve become a little more liberal in what I offer in percentages for cards that are “playable”. Staple cards that can be found in multiple formats, the ten Fetch Lands for example will garner more attention from me than a pile of “twenty centers”. We do have a standard by which we trade under. Any card that is $1.25 or more will get you 50% of its value as store credit (example: a card valued at $10 would garner you 5 dollars in store credit), we don’t care how you spend it, other cards, Pokemon, comics, toys, Warhammer, collecting supplies, how you spend your credit in store is your choice. Any Rare or Mythic card that is $1 or Less, we will offer you 20 cents. These are cards that are frankly, rarely used or asked for, but we do take them as much to help cycle the market as we do the extremely odd chance that they might manage to be worth something some day.
Common and Uncommon cards are occasionally worth more than a dollar, this can happen because of popular play-ability, or being used in multiple formats, sometimes a card is just straight up Good, things like Force of Will that was originally printed as an uncommon years ago but never saw a reprint even today hovers around $100 in value. Conversely some uncommon or common cards are just never what I feel they should be worth do to supply and demand, I can’t tell you how many times we have to really scrounge to come up with a Llanowar Elves card for someone who can’t be bothered to thumb through their back stock at home. That lack of drive is my bread and butter for sales of cheap commons, it does however skew my thinking on how they really should be valued at times: Because. I. Can’t. Find. Them. Or rather supply and demand should matter more but sometimes you just have to follow, not try to lead. We do take in commons and uncommon in on trade in bulk lots, 1000 miscellaneous common and uncommon cards for a flat $5 store credit, its not much, but its more than them being inconvenient piles around your house for your cat to knock over.
I will be trying to put together a list either here or via Facebook for cards that I’m chasing after for restock purposes (I will include that list at the bottom and try to update in its own post later). Some of these are me trying to track down things for regular customers, some of these are thing I’ve notice we are out of and just aren’t seeing traded in often. But this is me offering up a little extra for the effort some of you are willing to put in to prune down your collection and helping us keep the gears of commerce working, that allows for us to continue to offer a place to play and run events.
It is important as a gaming community that we get outside of our own boundaries once in a while and trade with people in other areas or other shops, we are reliant upon our base of players, collectors and enthusiasts to help us fill in the gaps in our collection, by literally going out and bringing things back to us to a certain degree. Alternately of course for cards to leave our area and hopefully fill in the gaps of collections elsewhere, with hopefully less leaving than is coming in.
Its often the case that a player feels the need (and rightfully so) to get as much value out of their cards as they can, especially if they aren’t pulling them from a pack! While the gamble of packs is enticing its never EVER a sure thing, but also, neither can a game room survive on 1:1 trade ins for very long. The temptation to cash out when the offer is on the table a strong one at times, especially when the Powers-that-Be seem disinterest in keeping a format supported for competitive play. I’ve some conspiracy theories why big card houses do this kind of thing and even WotC to a degree, but I very strongly encourage players and collectors to think very carefully before liquidating a Legacy Deck or even a Modern Deck out at large conventions. While cash in hand seems nice, tracking down those cards again when you’ve the itch to play them again can be prohibitively expensive in the long run. If not directly contribute to the almost cartoonishly large ballooning of the secondary market in the last few years. As well, while finding things at conventions might not seem as difficult or as expensive as alternatives, they don’t just happen every weekend in your hometown.
As I stated above I would like to offer up additional or extra store credit for that very kind of thing. I never encourage people to sell for cash, its is almost always a worse deal than credit. I have several major issue with MTG cards into Cash:
1) Criminal Activity: Maybe the worst problem is theft, a card shop that is known to buy cards without question doesn’t maintain a good reputation for long. Sorry, but the casual observer sees things and they do travel to other shops, word does get around. Dealing in cash encourages theft, and we need a whole heck of a lot less of that happening. MTG cards are just this side of being untraceable as commodities, that makes them very tempting targets.
2) Card Availability: Selling cards at a convention means that those cards are very likely leaving your area. If you want to build up an older format in your area, taking them out of that area is one of the worst things you can do, you want to encourage people to bring them in, not have the waters flowing the other way faster than you can paddle against it. That is why those vendors at conventions are doing it after all! Their local players aren’t cycling the cards fast enough and they have demand in their area too!
3) Diminishing Returns: You will rarely if ever be able to buy them back for what you sold them for. Shops have to turn a profit, cash will almost always be less than trade. That’s just the economics of it. Its often great for shops, terrible for players.
4) Time Better Spent: Time you won’t get back, if you want top dollar, you need to take your time. Supplies will wane and your time to sell will come along with enough patience.
It must be said for intellectual honestly that trading to your local store isn’t ideal to recoup your hard-earned monetary investment, but neither is hoarding for the sake of it, what you aren’t using someone in your local play group likely could really use, and in the turn around can support your local play area and you get to keep an opponent. Sometimes, its just hard to meet up with people to do trades, or its awkward, or they don’t have what you need, there are many reasons that just having store credit in your local shop is just more convenient than trying to get 1:1 value.
So let your local shop do what its meant to do, but in order for it to do so it might need a piece of the pie. Your mileage will vary as will opinions.
Here are a few thing I’m looking to get currently I am offering 60% trade on all of these rounded up to the nearest 50 cent if they are a $1.50 or more.
Expansion // Explosion
Angel of Finality
Pact of Negation
The cards i just listed are things that our locals are looking for. I’d like to get them taken care of and its best if our fellow locals can make that happen. We do of course encourage you all to make use of our game room. For play both casual and competitive. It is after all what your business is paying for.
Standard Format every Friday at 6:30pm and Saturday at 6:30pm
Drafts Every Friday at 6:30pm
Modern Every Monday at 6:30pm
We are trying to build up to host some Legacy events (hopefully to land on Sundays), many Legacy Cards that are considered staple and without sufficient reprints I’m happy to offer up to 70% or more depending on the need. And if you need things and we don’t have them, feel free to let me know and we’ll get it added to our “buy list”. Such hypocrisy!