Tag Archives: craigslist

Dealing with 150,000 Bulk Commons

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I’m not going to talk about Modern Masters 2015.

“But DJ, it’s the hottest ne—”

Don’t care.

“There are a bunch of complaints about the packaging an—”

Nope.

“This set is going to make Tarmogoyf into a $50 ca-”

No, it’s not. And I said I don’t care.

Maybe that’s a bit of an aggressive opening to this week’s article, but it’s honestly how I feel. I’m not diving in headfirst and buying mass copies of cards that have been reprinted, and I’m not squirreling away boxes of the set so as to gamble on their long-term desirability.

My methodology stays that same throughout this turbulent time in pricing, and that’s, “Buy stuff at or below buylist prices, and then sell it for TCGplayer-low through local individuals, Facebook groups, and on TCGplayer itself.” It’s really that simple, for the most part. If Timmy/Tammy cracks a Mox Opal but was hoping for an Emrakul, I’ll be happy to ship her $20 for it so that shecan grab two more lottery tickets.

…I just talked about Modern Masters, didn’t I? Crap.

That Is Over Now, Though

Actually, this article is supposed to be one that will continue to be useful months and years after MM2015 stops causing a financial hurricane. About a month ago, I purchased a pretty large lot of bulk commons and uncommons: approximately 150,000.
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Thanks to being able to negotiate with a past employer who owns a videogame store, I’m able to have access to a display case and physical retail location where I can buy and sell singles, collections, and bulk lots. My most popular item is definitely a lot of 1,000 randomized commons and uncommons sold in a BCW storage box for $7.

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Quick aside: While I used to highly recommend ordering these boxes en masse from BCW itself, its shipping costs have changed since I last ordered from the site.

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“Super Saver Shipping”? Not exactly.

If anyone reading this knows of an alternative method to acquire 1,000 count boxes for a cheaper price, please feel free to let me know so I can spread the word. I’d like to know for myself as well.


One of the “Magic Rules of Magic Finance” that I tend to repeat a lot is that I will always pay $4 per thousand on unseen bulk commons and uncommons and never more. If I am already stocked up on tens of thousands of cards and am in no rush to acquire more, I’ll lower my buy price down to $3 per thousand. If the person I’m working with wants to trade for cards out of my binder, I’ll give $5 per thousand. Because a large majority of the cards in this lot were common and sorted by set and color, I ended up giving $500.

Sorting 150,000 Commons

It’s actually a lot more annoying for me to buy collections of commons and uncommons that are sorted methodically by color and/or set, because casual players don’t really want 14 copies of Pensive Minotaur all lined up next to each other. They want one or two of each minotaur from the set, and some supporting cards from other sets so they can build their own 78-card unsleeved minotaur deck akin to how Tony Stark built his first Iron Man suit. The more randomized, the better, and I let people know that before they sell to me.

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The most frustrating part of this buy was effectively randomizing the 100,000 cards from the recent blocks of Return to Ravnica and Theros and mixing them into the older stuff that was among the collection. Ideally, you want a wide mix of cards in every box so that Timmy/Tammy doesn’t feel like he should have just dropped his money at Wal-Mart on two packs of Return to Ravnica and gotten some rares with a chance at a planeswalker.

(Side note: announcing that you threw a planeswalker into one of these boxes may have the side effect of new players ravenously buying out every single box in hopes of being the winner of the Golden Ticket).

Thankfully I’m a college student and have other friends who had nothing to do but pick through my intimidating wall of Magic cards. That plus the promise of food and Netflix helps.

A Barren Landscape

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No, we didn’t find a Wasteland or anything else close to that amount of money in a single card. The person that I purchased the lot from had thoroughly picked it of almost everything that I would have set aside, and I was actually more impressed than anything. It was definitely the cleanest-picked collection I have ever seen, so it freed me up to skim through a lot of the sorted cards without worrying about missing anything. However, there were a couple of things that I did end up finding…

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Shadowborn Apostle has gone the way of Relentless Rats, to the surprise of zero people. While buylists only pay around $.15, they’re easily able to be unloaded locally in sets of 20 for $15 to all of those casual demon players or anyone wanting to make a fun EDH deck with Athreos, God of Passage.  Out of dozens of forgotten M14 commons, these guys helped make up for the fact that all of the relevant uncommons were already spoken for.

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As for the tokens, I’ve previously written about how tokens are often forgotten about and can be free money. While not all of them will be worth $.50 to $1 on a buylist, they’re easy ways to add a little bit of value to a trade here and there. At the absolute worst, I like to use them as throw-ins when I sell their associated card on TCGplayer, to practically guarantee a positive feedback review. As a general rule, a token will become more expensive as its associated card increases in price. If SCG will pay $.25 a piece for Young Pyromancer tokens, you can get at least $.50 to $1 from the actual players who want to use them.

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Eventually, I ran out of uncommons to ration appropriately throughout the 1K boxes. What I had left were 50,000 or so commons without additional uncommons, so I decided to label and price them differently without waiting to get my hands on more uncommons. As you can see in the picture, the “1,000 commons and uncommons” boxes are labeled “1K”, and the ones that have zero uncommons are labeled “1KC”. You can’t see in this picture, but I have the labeling explained on the top of the boxes as well. I’ll be selling the ones with just commons for only $5 per thousand, and it’ll be a nice experiment to determine whether the casual players who shop at the store are more attracted to having uncommons in their boxes or the lower price tag associated with removing them.

Moving 150,000 Commons

Thankfully, I have more than one out for these. In addition to having a passive source of income at the store, I’ll be making a Craigslist ad for these once I get back from Vegas now that I’m home for the summer.

I’ve even seen a bit of interest on Facebook for buying lots of 5,000 cards for above my usual sell prices, which helps take shipping into account. The sentence, “I just want to have a bunch more cards to add to my collection, kind of like opening a much less expensive booster box,” is music to my ears, so I’ll be looking into Facebook in the future to not only sell singles, but bulk lots that have been customized to have rares and mythics included.

Overall Evaluation of my Experience

I’ve seen multiple other articles where at the end of the exercise, the author will break down and calculate exactly how much money he made through buylisting the picked singles, selling the bulk, and determine an hourly rate that he basically worked for. I’m not going to do that. I already know that I probably made less than minimum wage during the time that I was randomizing these cards, boxing them up, moving them into the store, making advertisements to sell them, etc. However, I’m also a college student who didn’t have a whole lot else to do other than work on school papers, play League of Legends, and watch Netflix.

I don’t need to be told whether or not it was worth my time, because I understand that not every collection earns you $300 an hour because you happened to find a playset of Forces in the small box labeled “old blue commons.”

End Step

I forgot to mention this last week, but thankfully I haven’t really seen anyone mention it since. While everyone else was complaining about the higher-end cards that weren’t in Modern Masters 2015, I saw that Spell Pierce had also been omitted. I don’t think that it has too high of a power level for Standard, so I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see it in something like Magic Origins or in the next Zendikar block. I think selling these off is the call for now.

I had a local casual player ask me if I had any Archenemy schemes, and I was surprised to see that some of the random ones I had that were collecting dust were actually worth a decent amount of money. If you have schemes or Planechase planes from the multiplayer sets, I recommend doing an inventory and seeing if any are worth buylisting or throwing up on eBay/TCGplayer. Hint: the Time Walk one is worth something.

Anyone have personal stories of buying massive amounts of commons and uncommons? Find anything cool, or was it cleaned out like mine? Let me hear your stories! I’ll be in Las Vegas for the Grand Prix as of this past Tuesday, so hit me up on Twitter if you want to find time to hang out!

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Buying Collections Through Facebook

By: Douglas Johnson

Hello, readers! Sorry about the lack of an article last week: it’s exam time here at Oswego State, so I had to prioritize writing about cognition, perception in digital image manipulation, and the history of past psychological theories over my beloved trading card finance. If you’re interested in any of those papers, I can be sure to get you a copy.

Now that we’re back, I’d like to provide a correction from the Immortals article from a couple of weeks ago. In that article, I referenced the “leaked” list from about a month ago, and assumed it was true because it came from the same source as the leak that had ended up being true for a list of Modern Masters stuff back in 2013. While several of the cards on the list ended up being correct, several cards were inaccurate (Comet Storm over the supposed mythic Splinter Twin), and  Goblin Guide ended up being completely missing from the set.

I received a bit of negative feedback for automatically assuming the list to be true, and I accept that I should have waited for confirmation from WOTC before going ahead with the example that I used. That being said, Tezzeret ended up being in the set (lucky me), and I still think he’s a good example of an “immortal.” If you need one for a deck or are looking for long-term stable gains through trade, I recommend picking them up about a month after the release of Modern Masters 2015.

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The New Craigslist

Now that those things are out of the way, let’s get to the content. When I get asked, “Where are the best places to find collections?” my two instant answers have always been Craigslist and word-of-mouth. Once you become a well-known person in your local area for buying pretty much anything at buylist, you’ll have friends of friends referencing you as “that guy” who is willing to drive out to their house at 11 p.m. on a Monday to buy their Standard deck because they need to pay rent by the next day. While both of these are still excellent ways to grab cards at buylist values to immediately resell at TCGplayer low prices, I’m happy to add another method to that list, and that’s Facebook.

I’m not even talking about using your local Facebook groups to meet up with people in your area to buy stuff—I’d categorize those under the “word of mouth” section, and just having a sufficient network. Even then, you’re still actually physically meeting up with the person and exchanging cash for the cards immediately. While my definition of a collection right here loosely translates to, “A pile of random singles at approximately buylist values shipped to your door,” it’s still been a great experience for me, and picking up two collections this way gave me the idea to write this article.

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Where to Join? 

To start out, let’s go over some of the various groups that I’m a part of on Facebook where you’ll be most likely to find willing sellers. While I’ve also joined at least a dozen localized groups that serve the same function, this is a decent starter list of the ones that aren’t tied to a specific location. Some of these groups will spam up your feed with unreasonable sellers more than others, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make in order to find the occasional great deal.

MAGIC THE GATHERING BUY/SELL/TRADE

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Magic Forum Buy-Sell-Trade

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MTG ONLINE TRADES

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Puca Points / Tickets / Card Exchange

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The first three groups are pretty self-explanatory: they all focus on the same thing, albeit the “MTG ONLINE TRADES” group is more focused on trading and less on cash transactions.

The fourth one on the list, “Magic: The Gathering,” lacks an easily distinguishable name, and is a much more casual-based group, and will actually provide great examples of what an “invisible” player looks like, as defined by my co-writer Ross Lennon . However, you’ll occasionally find a decent gem post there, and selling cards on that page for under TCGplayer low is a huge hit with the casual crowd in my experience. We’ll go over the correct formatting for selling your cards via Facebook later on.

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The last group is a newer one created for exchanging the different types of currency that we use: PucaPoints for the PucaTrade website, Magic Online tickets, cards themselves, or actual cash.

Pretty much all of these groups are technically “closed” by Facebook’s definition, but just ask for permission to join and they’ll let you in. If you’re someone who is constantly checking in on your Facebook every few minutes while bored and sitting at the computer, this is a great way to find buying opportunities without having to put in any noticeable extra effort. Be warned, though: you will inevitably see a large number of people who have no idea what they are doing, expecting full retail for their list of random rares.

My Haul

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A couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed to procrastinate on my term paper on perception. I happened to notice a post on one of the above groups that was selling the above list of cards,  and was asking damn near close to buylist prices on each card. He only wanted $10 for the (albeit German) Privileged Position, $1 each on the Townships, etc. I sent him a private message (and commented on the thread telling him that I had done so), asking what his price was to move the entire list today. His number was $180, which I snap-agreed to, especially since he was willing to ship the cards to me with tracking included (something you’ll always want to do when making these types of buys).

He supplied me with a list of his references, so that I could contact the admins and other traders of the various Facebook groups to confirm that he wasn’t going to take my money and block me. Thankfully, this was someone that I had purchased cards from in the past through the very same group ($5 copies of Liliana Vess? Don’t mind if I do.), so I had already confirmed his legitimacy. Even so, I still always wait for the seller to give me a tracking number before I send the money,  and I pay the extra 3% fee to cover the “goods and services” portion that PayPal takes, just in case I need to resolve a dispute.

Seconds?

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This list of cards was another lot on Facebook that I found within a couple days of the last one. After a bit of negotiating and letting the seller know that he could be paid the same day once providing me with the tracking number and confirming his references, we settled on a $220 price tag. While a large chunk of it is Standard stuff that will  be rotating within the next four to five months, I’ve already managed to move a decent chunk of it through local customers and selling on TCGplayer.

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After about a week of waiting and a couple of days of the USPS lying to me about when my package was scheduled to be delivered, we got our prizes in the mail.

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There’s… uhh… a little too much tape involved here, but it was his first time selling online, and he said he didn’t want anything to get damaged. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

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And here’s everything unwrapped and laid out, ready to be added to my own inventory. The seller actually didn’t mention that the Butcher of the Horde was actually Japanese and foil, so that’ll be nice if I can actually find a buyer. Even if I don’t, I only paid the buylist price of a non-foil English one: $.25.

All in all, I paid a litle over $400 to have $900 of (retail) value of cards shipped right to my mailbox . While this is obviously one of the rarer and more lucrative examples that you’ll come across, they do exist.

A more common situation with the reasonable sellers is the first time I bought from the seller who provided the first list: I bought two copies of Liliana Vess for $10 total, shipped in a plain white envelope. You definitely have to be fast with messaging the sellers when you see potential buys, but it’s worth it. There are multiple people like me who have nothing better to do than scroll through their Facebook feed for the off-chance that someone needing to pay for rent/car repairs/schoolbooks shows up in one of the groups, and actually knows how to list things at buylist prices in order to move them immediately.

I mentioned earlier that I would go over how to properly list cards on Facebook so that they actually move and allow you to make a profit, but I think that can be saved for next week, as it’s a pretty detailed subject. There are also a couple of things that I want to go over in the End Step before I close out for the week.

End Step

Modern Masters 2015 boxes are available for MSRP pretty much everywhere, and I’ve gotten several questions as to whether or not one should buy in expecting the same growth rate of the set’s predecessor.  I don’t think I want to buy these at $250, for singles or for storage. They’re an even bigger lottery ticket than Modern Masters, with a whole bunch of money packed into the mythics and very little distributed at rare. I’m a pretty risk-averse person, so I’d rather be the one buying other people’s cards at buylist so that they can be the ones to roll the dice on $10 booster packs. Unless you can get in below $210 or don’t plan on making money off of it, stay away for now.

Serum Visions is the FNM promo for August, following Path to Exile for July. I guess that explains why it wasn’t in MM15, so gold stars to everyone who called that. The lack of Gitaxian Probe is less easily explained, though, and my money (not literally) is suggesting that it’s teetering on the edge of a potential banning. While I don’t think the card is powerful enough to deserve an excommunication from the format, I also thought the same of Birthing Pod. I’m personally selling my copies at $3 when I have the chance, but that’s partially just because I found a bunch in a collection last week.

That’s it for this week. See you next time!

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