A few weeks ago I went to a local PTQ with some friends to sell some bulk to the dealers and play Commander. My plan was to wipe the floor with my friends in Commander, then sell to the dealers before we left. While I was perusing the cases for random Commander foils, I stumbled upon two Moxes, a Mox Ruby, and a Mox Jet. They were marked $250 and $270 respectively.
Commander would have to wait because I needed to scoop these Moxes up. They weren’t going to last long at these prices. I sat down and did the buylist dance with the dealer. Typically if I buylist anything, I try to sell stuff that is either rotating or cards that the dealer is paying close to low eBay pricing on. Sometimes dealers pay $2 for Pyromancer Ascension or $1 for Glissa, the Traitor.
I was able to get both Moxes between my buylist stack and the hefty serving of bulk rares that I sold. You might be surprised by this move. Why would the king of trading sell his cards to a dealer using a buylist? If you plan to be a trader, you have to learn to use the dealers as a resource. Naturally it’s better to sell your cards on Magic Trading League (MOTL), but sometimes it makes more sense to sell your cards at buylist. I recently sold a Mox Ruby in similar condition for $420 so I know that I can trade these to someone for a profit (at least $400 each). When trading power away, you can typically always trade for cards at buylist pricing.
My plan was to give $250 or $270 at buylist pricing then get $400 plus for each at buylist pricing. The math puts me $280 up if I get $400 in trade for each and even more if I get more than $400. Keep in mind that’s $280 “buylist dollars” which is really over $500 real dollars. That was the plan; now let’s fast forward to Cincinnati Open Weekend.
I planned on battling at the Cincinnati Open, and I wanted to do some local testing at the game store. Friday evening rolled around, and I couldn’t get this weekend started any sooner. Thankfully Adam Styborski needed a ride from the airport, so I got to leave work a little early to pick him up. After getting Adam, we checked into his hotel, picked up my cards, ate some awesome Mexican food, and then headed to the local game store. I couldn’t wait to do some battling, but before I could do that I had to do a little business first.
I was meeting my buddy Bernie at the store to hook him up with some pimp for his Legacy deck. This was his order; I won’t tell you how much he paid, but I will give the street value of each card:
When I got to the store, Bernie was at Brotherton’s (the diner down the street) chowing down on some home-style cooking. While he was doing that, I decided to finish my deck for the event. I had to buy two Shrine of Piercing Vision, a Twisted Image, and some Pyromancer Ascensions (I had these in my binder but didn’t know it until later). I sat down to sleeve the deck up, but the trades started to stack up. At first I tried to do them casually while I was sleeving, but I eventually put the half-sleeved deck in my deck box and went full throttle into trading mode.
This is something that I used to always struggle with, “Am I a player or a trader?” Nowadays I know that I am a trader, and as such I need to facilitate trades. I passed my binder around the room like a… um (better not chance it) shoehorn at a Payless going-out-of-business sale. While I was passing my binder around, a kid walked in with seven different binders. He threw them on the table and said, “Anyone wanna trade?”
A chorus of angels sang, and the sharks descended on him. I didn’t want to battle with the sharks for the kid’s fetchlands, so I decided to lay low and try to get more sleeving done. I was happy to pick through leftovers after. I resumed my sleeving chore, while I waited for Bernie, “What the hell was he eating? A freaking cow?” Finally the sharks dispersed; they all flashed me the pick-ups on the way out, “Medina, check this out!” I gave them the nod of approval and looked back. The kid smiled at me and said, “Do you have trade stuff?” I said, “Sure, do you have time?”
“That’s all I’m here to do.” He responded back smiling. I passed him the Lead binder, and then as he was looking through it I set the little binder on the table.
Have you ever opened a binder and just wanted everything? That was the kind of mood that I was in that night. The kid didn’t have fetchlands or Jaces, but he had a lot of miscellaneous stuff that is great for trading. He had stuff like Reveillark, Progenitus, and numerous Commander cards like Time Stretch and Sol Ring. It was a smorgasbord of goodies, and I wanted it all. I shot him the usual line, “If you see something you like, go ahead and take it out; everything in there is for trade.”
The word “if” makes it seem like when they do find something, it’s just by chance or a movement of fate that I happened to have card X in my binder. This keeps the trading process organic. People want to believe that anything can be in your binder, and when they find something that they are looking for, it always has a little magic attached.
I also use the word “like” because people are suckers for instruction. If you give someone instructions, chances are that they will follow them. If you say, “take out anything that you need”; then before they pull the card out, they’ll do a mental check and ask themselves, “Is this something that I need?” rather than “Is this something that I like?” These seem like little things, but I think that they make a difference. Words are powerful tools; just think about all the information or money that you can extract from words.
After getting halfway through the lead binder, the suspense was killing him; he had to look through the small binder. He picked it up, “Is this stuff for trade?” I said yes, and he opened the binder. He gave the obligatory “Nice Mox!” comment and stared at it. I looked at him and said, “Do you want it?” He laughed and said, “I wish.” I flipped through the binder that I had open and said, “Well, you have stuff. We can get there if you want. It’s up to you.”
Him: “Do you really think that I can get there?”
Me: “I know that you can; do you want to see what it would look like?”
Him: “Yeah, it can’t hurt to see.”
Me: “Okay, here’s how it works. I know that I can sell this Mox for cash pretty easily. So, we’re going to establish the cash price for the Mox. Then I am going to make you offers on your cards based on the price of the Mox. These prices will be very similar to what dealers buy cards for. I’ll show you an example after we figure out the Mox price.”
Me: “I would like to get $460 for the Mox in trade. I sold a Ruby for $420 about three weeks ago, and I just quoted someone $460 on this Mox, and he seemed interested. He said that he might bring cash for it Saturday, but I’m happy to trade it to you tonight if you want to make a deal. Did you want me to show you some pricing?”
Him: “Yeah, just take everything that you want, and we can go from there.”
I opened his binder to the first page and gave him some numbers. After the sample quote I confirmed with him again, “Do you still want to see what it looks like?” He shook his head and started stacking his binders on my right-hand side. I gave him the bulk rares before I started.
“Okay, any gold symbol rares I can offer $.10 and any foil rare I can offer $.25. Any other foil I can offer $.04 for.” I always throw this out there because it’s easy to sell bulk for cash at the prices that I quoted. Bulk is actually better than other cards in some trades because the bulk rate is stable that it’s like trading for cash. In this case, I want other cards more than bulk because I have a goal of getting $400 plus in cards at buylist price; bulk doesn’t help me get to my goal because it doesn’t have as high a resale value as buylist cards.
I started stacking cards into piles, starting at $.10 cents and going up to six dollars. Not many cards made it further than the three-dollar pile. This means that many of his cards were $6 and below. Over the next hour, I piled stuff up and went through each binder twice. People huddled around us and made side comments to their friends. I can only imagine what they were saying. Bernie finally showed up, and I took a quick break to hand him the goods to look over while I was crunching numbers.
After three passes, the binders were sufficiently picked through. I added up the stacks and we were at two hundred and change. We were still a bit shy of the $460 that we agreed on, so I offered to bulk the binders to try to get to the $460. He said, “I’ll go get my good stuff out of the car.” He came back in with a silver suite case. I felt like I was in a spy movie for a brief moment. He opened it up and started going through EDH decks, throwing higher end cards on the table. By the end of the process, we had a stack of Onslaught fetchlands and some other goodies. I added up the new pile, and it got us to around $440. We were really close; the bulk would get us there and then some.
My trade partner cued into this and said, “Looks like I can get the Mana Crypt too!”
I said, “Sure, did you want to bulk the rest?”
He obliged, and I asked my buddy Ben if he would help me empty the binders while I went and bought some thousand-count boxes from the store. He was happy to help, and I needed it, since it was nearing midnight, and we would soon be kicked out. We only had time to box the bulk up, so we would have to take the tail end of this deal outside.
I sat on a loading dock style cement slab outside of the store and counted up the bulk rares; we just used the number on the bottom of the box (800) and did our math based on that. A random street light lit our dealing. We had enough for the Mox Jet and the Mana Crypt with about $30 left over. My trade partner did some perusing and decided to take a Karn Liberated and another card. I handed him the power and said, “Congratulations! Is this your first piece of power?” He said yes, and I told him to enjoy it. We shook on the trade, and he walked away smiling.
It’s such an awesome feeling when you can facilitate a deal that makes both you and your trade partner happy. I picked up my bulk boxes and walked over to meet Bernie. He was standing with our friends outside discussing where to get a midnight snack. Bernie said, “Let’s take a walk to my car real quick.” He pulled a wad of twenties out and counted it for me.
I thanked him and said, “We’ll settle up on that foil Delta later. See you tomorrow at the Open.”
Adam was such a good sport; he had been waiting the whole time. We jumped in my car and headed to his hotel. After dropping Adam off, I booked it home. I landed in my driveway at about 2 am, and I still had sorting to do. I did the sorting and finally hit the sack. It was about 3 am, and my deck for Saturday wasn’t even sleeved yet. These are the woes of being a trader. Playing always comes second or never.
My hopes are that this article will give you the dialog for initiating buylist style trading. There’s a lot that goes into the subtleties, and I hope to cover some of the finer points at another time in this column. Remember, in order to trade for cards at buylist pricing, it always helps to have high-dollar, hard-to-get cards. When you’re trading away Power, a Time Vault, Library of Alexandria, or Mana Drain, then you can ask for buylist pricing without batting an eyelash. Let the process be natural and check with your trade partner along the way to make sure that he or she wants to make the deal. You have to give them outs, or you risk them walking away at the end and wasting your time. Thank for reading!