Hi there! With the small chance you skipped out on last week's article, you can click on those blue highlighted words at your own convenience. We discussed buying cards immediately on release, and why it can sometimes be worthwhile depending on your future play schedule. Today, we'll be going in a bit of a different direction, while staying in my Magic finance niche. I've written before about common and uncommons "picks;" the non-rares in a set that can still be worth pulling out of bulk for either playing or selling later. This week, we're covering what to do with the rest of the leftover cards that get stockpiled in your living quarters after you pick out the good stuff. Believe it or not, there are other players and stores who would be happy to own your bulk, even if it requires a little bit of legwork on your end. Let's get started!
This is some of my picked bulk. Yes, those are shelves that I bought from a Kmart that was going out of business. I pulled out all the Gifted Aetherborn, all the Longtusk Cubs, all the Web of Inertia, and even all the Firecat Blitzes from those boxes over the past few months. I pull commons and uncommons that will buylist for at least a nickel. That requires quite a bit of experience and existing knowledge, so you can set your "pick limit" to whatever you want. Most people who don't do this for a living will pick down to the quarter on a buylist, which drastically decreases the number of cards you must be aware of while picking. Before I end up writing a whole separate article about which non-rares you want to be pulling, let's go back to picked bulk. While it's technically possible to just sell that above bulk to another store and move it for next to nothing, I'd like to maximize my value on even the bulkiest of the bulk commons.
Once you've picked out all the cards you want to sell (or hold onto to play with!), you'll want to find a buyer for the leftovers. It certainly won't be a competitive player – you pulled all the relevant stuff that they would have wanted. Even picking bulk for Commander staples like Cultivate and Vandalblast will leave the bulk barren of stuff for most 99-card enthusiasts. You'll need to find someone that doesn't really care about the contents for the most part, and is just looking for non-competitive deckbuilding material. Either that, or you're looking for a store that's going to sell the cards at a bulk rate to someone looking for non-competitive deckbuilding material.
One of the places I've had the most luck selling bulk is Craigslist. With the right advertisement listed on the site, you can enter into a whole world of players who enjoy the game at a level far removed from any local game store or competitive tournament. These players would happily pay five or six dollars for 1,000-card lots versus the standard $4 per booster pack at Walmart or Target – the only difficult part can be finding them. Craigslist can build a bridge to a quick and easy way to sell what I call "instant collections," allowing you to move cards that you consider junk to someone who will get a lot more use out of them.
What's in a Craigslist ad? Well, you're going to need to accurately describe what you're selling if you want any buyers. Adding pictures increases the chances of people seeing cards they're interested in, and you want to give a rough estimate of the age of the cards as well. Here's an example posting I made, posted to my local area in upstate New York.
I kept the ad brief, but added enough details to cover the important notes. I mentioned the fact that I have rares if they want to look through a box of them, and already solidified the fact that I'm not looking to negotiate. Anyone who texts or calls will be a serious offer from either a reseller or non-competitive player.
It's important to note that your buyers can peek through the boxes before going home with them. There are some sellers on Craigslist that are just looking to unload 900 Grizzly Bears or Vizzerdrix, and I want to let players know that I'm not one of those scammers. Randomizing the cards can help make your bulk lots feel more like booster packs, but it can certainly be time consuming to effectively randomize four Battle of Wits decks per box. $5 per thousand is a pretty fair price; most vendors like myself will pay you $2-3 per thousand, with some others even paying $4 if they have a really streamlined bulk operation. I'm asking for a little bit over buylist, because I want to move my cards fast. Lastly, you'll want to explicitly mention in your ad that you only accept cash. Failing to include that little detail will end up with you getting spam emails from long distance scammers who claim they'll pay via wire transfer.
If you don't have a bunch of those BCW boxes on hand, any box will do. When I was first starting out, I sold unsorted commons and uncommons out of shoe boxes for $20 apiece; those were the days. I prefer the BCW one-row boxes because while they're advertised as holding only 800 cards, they actually hold close to 1200 Magic cards. You can fill them up about 90% of the way, end up at over 1000, and even let your buyers count the cards if they're concerned about getting skimmed. While I don't recommend paying $1+ retail for the BCW boxes just to give them away in bulk lots, they're great if you just have extras lying around.
Like bulk lots of commons and uncommons, another strategy for selling true bulk on Craigslist involves making it into instant collections. While the time investment can be a little bit higher, that correlates with a higher payoff depending on your area and local player base. An "instant collection" is just what it sounds like; a fast and inexpensive way for someone to either get into Magic or grow their collection, getting a Deckbuilder's Toolkit worth of stuff at a fraction of the price.
Most of my friends who sell instant collections tend to include the following;
It's pretty similar to the bulk lots that we just discussed, but these go a lot harder on the "booster pack" itch that a newer player is looking to scratch. You might be wondering about the rare count – why 11 instead of an even 10? Well, we're still advertising that the box only has 10 rares, but we're throwing in one extra as a bonus! If the buyer thinks we're accidentally putting in extra rares, there's a higher chance of having a happy buyer come back for more instant collections later. The basic land count allows someone to make at least a couple of decks per box (depending on color allocation), and the foils will be another nice surprise that goes unmentioned in the advertisement.
If you'd prefer to avoid the hassle of creating instant collections or selling on Craigslist, my suggestion for a plan B would be to sell or trade in your true bulk to your local game store, or a vendor like myself who will pay you to take it off your hands. While you might not get as much per thousand, you save yourself the time and effort that the store or vendor is going to put in for you. The minimum number you should be selling for is $2.5 per 1,000 commons and uncommons, and you should be looking for a higher number if you're trading in for store credit with a local game store.
Maybe your local store isn't interested and you aren't getting any bites on Craigslist – well, I've got one more suggestion up my sleeve. If you can find a local school or library that runs a Magic club, you can always Donate the cards to these groups for free! While this is a finance column and I'm writing about how to get the most value for your cards, there's definitely value in helping out your local community. I would have loved a stockpile of commons and uncommons to build from when I was in high school, so it's an option if you would rather Donate to a good cause instead of making a few dollars on the side.
While Craigslist can be a lucrative way to sell bulk commons and uncommons, please remember to take all safety precautions when making transactions with strangers. Always use the buddy system, and send a text to a friend or family member that you're meeting up with someone at a third-party location like a Dunkin Donuts or a local library. While Magic cards and money are both great to have, neither are worth risking your own personal safety over. I've met some awesome people over classified advertisement websites like Craigslist, but it's always better to be safe. I hope this article helped to clean out some basements, and earn you a little bit of spending money; thanks for reading!
- DJ Johnson