A Guide to Black Friday Buying

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I remember the appeal of Black Friday. Stuff yourself on turkey (and ham, and potatoes, and deviled eggs, and stuffing, and wine, etc), play games with the family, listen to your crazy uncle and live-tweet what he says, drink more wine and then pass out.

Then wake up at 4 a.m. on Friday and drive to Wal-Mart or Target to begin to camp out for those 7 a.m. openings. If you’re really hardcore you get there even earlier so as to try and get in on the doorbuster sale. You walk away with the fancy TV if you’re lucky, and you probably get a lot of stuff you maybe don’t actually need. Then you go home and sleep.

These days, Black Friday starts on Thursday. At not at 11:59 either. 6 p.m. openings is, frankly, stupid. I get that some people (very few) want to eat and then go shop, the fact is you’re never going to get the doorbusters unless you skip Thanksgiving meal altogether. I’m not a fan of this at all, but it would be fairly disingenuous of me to criticize it too heavily given that it is the natural conclusion of capitalism, and I have a writing gig here and a store to run thanks to that. Still, I hate it.

Luckily, when it comes to Magic, we don’t have to worry about that. You wake up in the morning and begin the crazy Black Friday rush of surfing the Internet in your pajamas. I had originally planned on compiling a big list of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, but Reddit has beat me to it. Since I can’t imagine making a more comprehensive list than theirs, I’ve decided not to try. Instead, I want to offer some tips on how to plan out your holiday purchases this year.

The Big Ones

Let’s start with Star City Games, the biggest retailer of note. Their Black Friday deals have just been announced, and there’s some big ones. Battle for Zendikar boxes at just $80 is actually insane, given that it’s a full $10 cheaper than boxes available on TCGPlayer. Even the EV of the opened packs comes out to above that — though you’re playing the Gideon lottery here, of course.

Next up is there sale on true collector items: Alpha/Beta and graded goods. While I’m no expert on these prices, there’s certainly a lot to like here if you’re in the market. Rarely do you get the intersection of a truly reputable dealer (and SCG is unparalleled here) with such high-end collectibles. I understand how little of the market this speaks to, but it’s worth checking out. Of course, there’s also the consideration of this being timed just a few weeks after the big announcement of reduced Legacy support. While I’m not drawing any causation here between the two, I imagine others will chime in on the subject in the days to come.

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While we haven’t seen all of Channel Fireball’s deals, I have to imagine they will look good as well. Both of these retailers can afford to really jump in with some “loss leaders,” if you will, and that means they’re willing to offer up some of the best deals on the market to get people into their store.

The third of the big outlets, TCGPlayer, has a significantly less exciting offer. Getting five percent of your purchase back in store credit is nice, sure, but it’s not anything to really go deep on. While TCGPlayer is obviously still your best outlet for cheap cards — and if you were planning an order now’s the time to place it — nothing about their deal makes me want to jump in.

Other online stores

Moving down the list, I would also suggest checking out TrollandToad, which has an actually insane deal with $60 Dragons of Tarkir booster boxes. This is a full $20 under TCGPlayer, and essentially half of the EV of the box. I’m not going to say arbitrage is worth your time here, but the truth is that’s just an absurdly low price for a set that’s going to be legal another eight months. [EDIT: SOLD OUT on boxes; that was fast].

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Card Kingdom is doing a “spend $100, get $15 in store credit” deal, which again isn’t bad if you’re planning a purchase but not something that draws me in. CoolStuffInc seems to have their actual singles discounted, so if you’re looking into something specific it’s worth comparing there, though I’ll note that their prices aren’t exactly low to begin with, so there’s maybe not a ton to be gained here.

But here’s one that I do consider worth going out of your way to check out: Face to Face Games. The store is located in Canada, but if you’re north of the border or even in the U.S. (sorry, everyone else), this is worth looking into thanks to a 15 percent off coupon code for Black Friday only (code: BLACKFRIDAY2015). If I’m looking to buy a deck or a collection of cards (or spec targets), this is likely the best place to look. In many ways this is the same as Card Kingdom giving $15 on a $100 order, except in this case you don’t have to spend your “savings” on more cards.

Big-Box Stores

These are your Wal-Mart and Targets of the world, as well as some smaller chains. While those two big ones don’t have anything to write home about, Walgreens has 40 percent off, I’ve heard Hastings has buy one, get one deals going on, and you should also be on the lookout for any other price-matching guarantees that stores in your area may float around.

Overall, there’s nothing huge here, but 40 percent off at Walgreens is a great excuse to buy any product you may want either for yourself or the upcoming gift-giving season. I’m not sure if you can grab Commander 2015 product at these locations or not, but this is a great way to get in on those if you can.

Everything’s local

With all of this in mind, remember that “Small Business Saturday” is a newer trend that’s popping up. I know a lot of local stores that are having some big sales, and when you’re done recovering from Thanksgiving food and finished scouring the internet for deals, be sure to go check out your local game store. They almost always have good deals of their own and are highly likely to want to work with you, given that you represent repeat business to them. The typical LGS is a lifeline to all players, and we don’t want to forget them in the rush that is Black Friday madness.

 

With so many places to look, I’ll stop here. Get out there and find some deals!

 

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter/Twitch/YouTube

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10 thoughts on “A Guide to Black Friday Buying”

  1. Really good article, thanks! Apparently you weren’t the only one who saw the value in Dragons of Tarkir booster boxes at $60, as Troll and Toad has already sold out.

    If you’re looking to play Tron, Troll and Toad has $41 Mirrodin foil played Oblivion Stones, which is a pretty good deal, as the cheapest played ones on TCGPlayer are about $54.

  2. Don’t be fooled by some of these deals – SCG $80 BFZ booster box doesn’t include shipping costs, which are (pathetically) $9.63. That makes them maybe $1 cheaper than TCG, although on TCG you would get around $4.50 in store credit.

  3. Got me a “MP” Unlimited Time Walk that looks SP to me from SCG. $780 shipped. When I bought they had one more similar (but not quite as nice as mine of course) condition.

    Still thinking of picking up one of their timetwisters “MP” but looks SP for $420

  4. Good lord, at $60 I would have bought them out of Dragons of Tarkir myself; that’s considerably cheaper than cost.

  5. Corbin, can you or whomever is in charge of the Daily Gainers and Losers fix the software please? It would show Into the Void as a gain of $0.48 for weeks and now it’s again just glitching out. Thank you

  6. Ate my Thanksgiving meal around 3 and got out to Best Buy just before 5 (which is when they started selling). Ended at Walmart around 8:30 (2.5 hours after they opened) and some of the front page stuff was still available. So you can in fact eat and still get the doorbusters 🙂

  7. The other advantage to Face to Face (if you are used to paying in USD currency) is that they sell in CAD, or Canadian dollars. For example, I bought a Mystic Confluence at CAD 14.99, and then took 15% off, and then had the foreign exchange benefit, which made is substantially cheaper. I picked up a Misty Rainforest at a good price too… Foreign-currency-priced cards (coming from an American POV) can be substantially discounted even without a coupon code if you take advantage of foreign exchange discrepancies.

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