Last week’s article concluded with a discussion on floor-trading etiquette—tips and tricks on how, as a new trader, to both gain value and be a nice guy. This week, I will be continuing where I left off as well as discussing how to salvage a bad situation with a less-than-desirable trade partner. In addition, I will be answering some of last week’s questions, and asking for some help from all you artists out there. I have a lot to discuss this week, so rather than bore you with a long, elaborate intro, I’ll get right into the thick of things!
Now that you understand both how to be prepared and how to approach a trade, it is time to learn what to look for in the trade itself. The first goal of any trade is to understand what you are looking for before you sit down. If you are looking to uptrade, you have to approach the floor differently than if you are looking to downtrade. The same can be said about value trading or even just picking up cards for a deck. Assuming you are starting out as a fairly new trader, you are likely to have a binder full of bulk or midrange rares with a few top-end cards you have opened or acquired. Maximizing profit means you cannot seek out only cards you need, but cards you know you can, in turn, trade for more value. With this in mind, you want to make sure that you are not letting your top-end rares go for midrange cards just to fill up your binder. Typically, if someone sees a binder full of bulk and midrange cards without any top end, he is likely to be hesitant to give you any value, because you have little of value yourself. If you are going to be parting with higher-end cards, make sure you are picking up cards worth actual money in return to keep your binder balanced.
While picking up high-end cards is great, and truthfully where you make most of your value, make sure you don’t trade solely into higher-priced cards. Having a good selection of bulk and midrange is just as important as your selection of top-end rares. When you and your trade partner have proceeded to pick out the cards you want, it rarely comes out to a nice even number; this is where the lower-end stock comes into play. One of my trades this past weekend serves as a great example of such a case.
- +1 Sword of War and Peace NPH 17.99
Once he had picked out the cards for his Modern deck, it was apparent that we were about $2 to $3 off in value according to his preferred website (StarCityGames). After a quick search through the binder, he found a Royal Assassin that he knew someone back home was looking for. This in turn allowed us to successfully complete the trade. Without lower-end cards, it is very difficult to square up deals. No one wants to lose money on a trade, even if it is only a buck or two, so having ways to make up that difference is very important.
Assuming you are just looking for value, it is usually best to ask on a variety of cards in someone’s binder even if you have little to no interest in them. This will give you a good idea of what your trade partner plays as well as what formats he cares very little for. Many times, you can find Commander gems in competitive crowds just because the majority of players they trade with have no interest in them. From there, begin to target cards that you feel he has no attachment to. This will usually result in him undervaluing them if you have something he needs or cares about. If you are finding a lot of great deals, but your trading partner has only found a few cards where your prices matched, you should start offering him better deals. If you are making a solid profit, there is no need to ask full retail for your cards when you would much rather acquire the cards from his binder. Learning how and when to adjust prices can be a great asset to any trader. This will result in a greater profit and allow you to acquire a greater number of cards to keep your binder’s stock ever-rotating.
On the topic of binder rotation: It is very important as a trader to keep your binder not only stocked, but new. It is very hard to pull in repeat trades week after week if your binder looks nearly the same as it did the last time trading partners saw it. The easiest way to solve this is to simply trade more, and in each trade, learn how to be flexible to the other person’s needs. Even though you may participate in a number of trades that result in little to no profit, it is still a great idea to partake in those trades just to keep new cards contained within your binder. This may not net you immediate returns, but in the long run, you will find that it will produce more business and potential profit.
Now that you understand the basics behind how to approach a trade and how to evaluate a trade, it is time to move on to a less desirable topic: ending a trade. Sometimes, you just need an exit from a bad trade. Not everyone out on the trade floor is looking to make small profits or pick up cards for their decks. Some are just looking to rip you off. Not all trades that are prematurely ended are ended for this reason, but it is important to know how to handle this situation. If you find someone who is attempting to take advantage of you, it is typically not worth your time to haggle on prices when you could be trading with fair and honest people. The easiest way to resolve such a situation is to create some sort of a diversion, if possible. Anything from texting your buddy to call you and say he needs you to saying you need a smoke break can work. Although this is slightly dishonest, it is much easier on both parties rather than causing a conflict over card prices. Creating enemies on the trade floor is never a good idea, and although it is best to avoid those people in future trades, there is no reason to create a tense relationship. If you find yourself waist-deep in a trade before you realize what is going on, be sure to be polite and courteous, while at the same time standing by your actions and not backing down. Not every situation can be handled civilly. Unfortunately, some traders are looking to bully others into their unreasonable game of money-making. With those people, it is best to explain to them that you know what your cards are worth, and though they value them differently, you will not be concluding a deal and that their efforts are futile. If they still do not back down, simply pack away your cards and walk away, all the while being sure to be as kind and thankful for their time as possible—“kill them with kindness.”
I was asked last week to create a top-ten list of the most important key factors for any trader. Although there are far more than ten things to remember, I have come up with what I believe to be the ten most important. This list is in no particular order.
1. Be courteous.
2. Know your values.
3. Have your binder(s) organized.
4. Be personable. Friendly banter is a great way to pass the time while trading.
5. Know the person you’re trading with. Ask and understand his or her interest in particular formats.
6. Always be willing to work with different methods of valuing cards. Versatility is key.
7. Know how to uptrade and downtrade. These are possibly the two most important parts of trading.
8. Always look for throw-ins. Even if the card is only a bulk rare, it’s still one more rare you didn’t have.
9. Keep a rotating binder. Don’t let your selection get stale, even if it means letting go of certain cards at a lower price.
10. Don’t be bullied into trades. Even if you feel bad about concluding a trade early, if you have a bad feeling or know you are getting ripped off, it is best to just step away.
I’d like to see what you guys feel are the top ten, or even five, most important parts about trading to you. What key rules do you remember when trading? Share your ideas and comment on others. Ask questions about why someone may feel something is so important, and perhaps adjust your trade game to apply these rules.
I feel like I just started, and already we have reached the end for this week. I hope you all enjoyed the basic analysis of starting a successful trade game as well as how to salvage a bad trade. Before I sign off this week, I have a request for all of you artists out there, I would like to have some design work done. Through the past couple of events, I have run into a number of people who have read these articles. However, up until I introduced myself, they did not know who I was and in fact most found me through sheer luck on the trade floor. I want to change all that in the coming months with a shirt, or two, designed by you. Even if you are not the greatest artist in the world, you will still have a chance to participate in this process over the coming weeks. I will be taking all of the entries I receive between now and October 15 and putting them up for public viewing. You will then have the opportunity to vote for the designs you would like to see become the official Box to Extended logo. As with any contest, there are of course a couple of rules:
- Although I do not have a problem with one person submitting multiple designs, please keep the number reasonable. I do not want half of the designs up for vote by the same person.
- Please do not break any copyright laws. I do not want to face a lawsuit because I found out you stole someone else’s work.
- Please, no vulgar language or crude material. I do have to wear these shirts in public, after all.
- I will begin taking entries starting next Friday. If you would like to submit an entry, contact me on Twitter or send me a link of your work.
- Keep the art large enough to be recognizable. Although I love detail, make sure you can actually tell what is on the shirt.
- If you are using any fonts or picture you do not own, be sure you have the okay from the owner before submitting them.
- Somewhere in the design or on the shirt, there must be a place for sponsorship logos. I want to be able to support the people who have supported me in this endeavor.
- Make sure “Box to Extended” is the centerpiece of the design. Although I would love to see your creativity at work, I also want to make sure people can look at the shirt and understand what it says from a ways away.
If I missed anything major, let me know. Please keep this clean and down-to-earth. I truly want the community involvement to play a major role in this project. There will be prizes awarded to the winners, so please take your time and effort in these designs. I want this to look spectacular.
Well, that’s all for this week’s edition of Box to Extended. I hope you were able to take away a wealth of knowledge while at the same time gaining an appreciation of just how much goes into trading. Join me next week, when I will be covering how to scale values based on what your trade partner’s preference is. Until then, keep trading and never look back!