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Cashing In, Selling Out


As I was sitting here looking at my various article ideas I have jotted down over the past few months, I received a Facebook message from a local player. This particular player was inquiring into what was the best way to unload an entire collection because he no longer had time for physical Magic. I normally don't encourage people to sell out of the game because it seems almost everyone I know who quits eventually gets the bug and comes back. I have fortunately never sold everything I owned, so I do not know firsthand the uphill battle that is reacquiring a collection, nor do I ever hope to find out, but for those dead-set on leaving the game—or at least downsizing their collections—this article is for you. Even if you are not looking to leave the game in any capacity, I encourage you to give this week a read, however, because I will be going in-depth on exactly what you should be looking to do if you know someone is looking to get out and does not have the time to piece out his or her collection alone.

The first step to any process when you are looking to leave a hobby is to figure out exactly what you have. If you are looking to downsize your current collection, I suggest separating exactly what you are looking to sell from what you want to hold onto. If you just want to dump everything, skip this step and begin doing some price research on any high-end cards you are looking to part with.

Underground Sea
Separating your collection by value is what will streamline this process and save you hours of countless work when you are advertising what you have. No one wants to search through thousands of cards and still give you a good offer as they pick the value from it—that just isn’t a realistic expectation, so you are going to have to do some of the work for yourself. You don’t need an exact dollar amount for each card, as that will take far more time and effort than it is typically worth, but separating cards that are on the high end (anything that would have a retail value above $10) from the bulk is usually a good start. From there, I would also try to separate any valuable commons and uncommons out along with any midrange rares that are worth more than bulk.

Now that you have an idea of what is in your collection and how much money it is worth, it is time to decide how exactly you wish to part with your cards. If you happen to know a local dealer and are not looking to put a lot of time and effort in, you can usually obtain a fairly reasonable price considering all the work is now on the dealer’s shoulders. This, of course, will not net you even close to what your cards are truly worth since it is unlikely they will be getting full retail for anything and are also taking a cut for themselves since very few people can afford to work for free. I don’t suggest just dumping your collection all at once like this unless you truly don’t care about what you get for it or you just don’t have the time to bother with it.

Option two requires slightly more legwork but will probably net you the most value if you have the time to spare. This option is the main reason I had you separate your cards into value piles—each pile now has a separate outlet. For the higher-end items, I would suggest auction or trade sites such as eBay or Magic Online Trading League since you will earn the closest to retail from these outlets. You can also sometimes out higher-end items to buy lists from various sites for a reasonable number, but typically, if you have the patience, it is best to list individual items and let them sell over time.

Treasure Hunter
The second pile of better-than-bulk that contains your $1 to $10 cards is typically best buy-listed. For a higher-end card, it does not make sense to do so because even if someone pays 65% to 70% of retail, that can still be a large gap between that number and eBay. On lower items, a buy list makes sense because it is not typically cost-effective to pay fifty cents and fees to list a $3 card. Even if a buy list only pays you $1 or so on said card, it still ends up closer to what you would have made on eBay anyway, and then you know for certain the card is sold and that you did not have to relist it multiple times.

The exception to the above rule is if you have or know someone who owns an eBay business you can use. The listing fees are cut drastically when you own a store, and if you have a local who sells cards anyway, you may want to inquire as to what he or she would want to list them for you. If this is an option, I would try to list anything that appears to sell quickly and then make a pile of the rest. What remains is probably best buy-listed.

Once you have pieced out any cards you believe may have value, you can then feel free to sell your bulk. CoolStuffInc.com has one of the highest buy prices on bulk I have found if you are willing to ship. If you are looking to sell locally, you may be able to find a dealer, collector, or store that is willing to match most online sources’ numbers. Before you actually ship the bulk, if there is a local dealer, I would suggest having him or her take a look at it. Agree to give the dealer a percentage of anything he or she pulls out, and make it understood that you will not be selling the bulk to the dealer. If the dealer believes he or she is buying the bulk, it may entice him or her to leave cards in the collection, and that can only hurt you.

Once your bulk is picked and you have an outlet for it, you are almost done selling your collection. If you have any cards left that were not on a buy list but were better than bulk, you can probably find a local who will pay you a reasonable amount just to help you unload the last of your cardboard burden.

Hidden Path
If you are a person looking to continue the game down the road but have no use for the cards now, I would suggest turning what you can into Eternal staples that are on the Reserve List and stow them away. Even if you are not sure if you will ever come back, this allows your collection to continue to grow in value while being fairly protected from the major flux in the Standard market.

Alternatively, if you are looking to give up physical Magic for the digital version, you may be best looking around the Internet for various website forums where people are more than willing to trade you digital cards or tickets for your physical counterparts adjusting for the market differential.

As you can see, there are a number of options when looking to part from this game, and as long as you have some time and patience, you will find that the process can be quite lucrative. I know a number of people who have used Magic to fund their future homes or businesses, some downsizing and some altogether getting out.

I cannot stress enough how big of a decision this is, and no one should go into the process blind. Unless you absolutely need the money, I encourage you to take some time and think about whether you may ever see yourself coming back. We have all had those bad weekends when it feels the game is against us, and we have all had that inkling to realize a new hobby, but in the end, we stick around because when you are sitting there with your friends at the kitchen table or a Grand Prix, there is something about this game that lets you lose yourself.

Before I depart for the week, I want to remind everyone about the Modern Masters competition I started a number of months ago. I was going to make the cut at the first of the year, but considering I had not mentioned the contest in a number of weeks and that I did not write last week, I figured I should give an extension. I will be taking submissions until the first of February, and I will mention the contest again as that deadline approaches. Please still send your submissions in as soon as possible so I have time to look them over and make sure everything is kosher. If you have any questions or wish to make a submission, the e-mail is:

ModernMastersCompetition at gmail dot com

Thank you to everyone who has already submitted your inquiries! For those who had their submissions in on time, I will also extend a courtesy. If a card is spoiled for the set before the deadline is reached, I will allow you to replace any of your picks with that card to ensure you have as good of a chance as those who are waiting until the last minute.

Join me next week as we delve into another corner of the financial market. If you have any ideas or comments, always feel free to leave them for me in the section below or on Twitter. Thank you as always for reading, and I hope you all are enjoying the new year!

Ryan Bushard