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A Year in Review


Last week, I had my editor rerun an article from March of last year that I had always intended on returning to. Being a year later really made me realize how much this game does shift, in terms of both community and finance. Last year, we put the days of floor trading behind us for the most part and moved into mass-quantity buys, leading to what is now considered the speculation market. With the growth of Modern, this has escalated to a point of sustainability but unpredictable growth going forward. Probably almost every playable card will shift at some point, which means it is still correct to hold on to many cards that are too low, but gone for me are the days of watching an event and hoping to snag a few hundred copies of anything that had a breakout weekend. This week, I want to focus not just on the mistakes—as they seem fairly obvious now—but also on the subject of adaption within the market and local communities.

Misty Rainforest
First, it should be clear that I am not looking to soapbox-rant this week about Internet buyouts or the constant growth of the Modern market. Instead, I am looking ahead at what it takes to move forward on multiple levels. Many people who have been following Magic finance over the past year have caught on to the local store level support—many setting up cases while cutting the local game store (LGS) a percentage for the space. This can lead to many buys that were not previously available, forcing you to rely less on spiking cards and floor trading to profit. This level of adaption separates the people who will stagnate where they are from those who perhaps are looking to create a career or monetary hobby out of their cards. This is not to say everyone should be hitting up their shops—for those who are looking to just fund a small private collection, it is rarely worth the time or effort involved with keeping a case stocked. This, instead, focuses on the people who are looking to continue to grow with the market.

This week, it truly comes down to visualizing what your goal is within the game. I have fairly lofty goals that I am constantly striving toward. Knowing what you are seeking will allow you a better idea of how much time you need to be willing to commit to reach that goal. For me, this is a full-time job that I am always happy to wake up and perform, but that, of course, is not the case for most. Once you know your personally-set limitations, it is easy to set goals to strive toward that personal peak. This is not to say you cannot grow beyond that initial limit, but having a ceiling will keep you from exerting yourself beyond the point at which it feels like a hobby.

This is especially important for those who are in committed relationships and rooted or for those on a budget, as it will take the potential strain away by setting these limitations. For example, if you are looking to buy a collection though you know it is above your budget and would take too many personal hours to process, it is feasible to find someone else to buy the collection with the agreement for a cut of profit for providing the information. I do this locally for those who have friends or coworkers looking to move cards above their budgets, and for them, the free cash provides a bigger budget for the game without putting the strain of money on the situation. If you are in the position to pick up larger collections, this method can also help you expand your customer base. If you pay a fair percentage of profits, it is much more appealing for those without the time or resources. This symbiotic relationship can continue to grow, as the more money the larger entity is selling, the more that entity can spend, thus pay out down the road.

Knowing how to coincide with other like-minded individuals can prove to be beneficial for both and expand the reach over time. As this game expands, more and more people will find interest in the individual niches within the community, including finance. This means that though you may be the big dog in your area now, it is best to prepare for the future, and this means bringing up the community in such a way that they are not only comfortable, but also pleased, with your presence. For those looking to expand further, the next step can also allow you to give back to the community in ways you were not able to when staying locally.

Traveling Philosopher
If you are willing to travel, you can many times find deals on cards that would not be available in your area. This means you can begin to take lists to events or other areas in order to bring back what local players are seeking. As long as your prices are fair, I have found it very easy to provide cards, when I have them, to locals while still being able to make enough to make the process worth it. As you grow to this stage, if you are not already here, you must then reevaluate what your ceiling is and at what point you are looking to settle. Not everyone can be a card store or a vendor, but you can find your place among the community you serve to better fill that gap between them and the larger vendors. Most people do not understand how to buy-list cards correctly, and many times, they would spend much longer looking up most cards than it would be worth. If you provide services that allow locals to move collections or singles through you for a small fee, you can grow your own stock by paying for what you believe can go up from what those players have, and you can move the rest for premium numbers at events. Many people have jobs or families that tie them to home during many weekends, therefore leashing them from attending most major events and in turn preventing them from quickly turning collections around. This is not an issue if you have an unlimited Magic budget, but for many, there are a certain numbers they feel comfortable sinking into collections, and until those cards are moved, their budgets may be strained. Providing a way for them to quickly move collections with minimal hassle means they will have an easier time picking up collections, which will benefit both parties.

I am setting my ceiling higher, but this is where I feel most people stop. I have strived to create a name not only locally, but within the social-media community as well as among the vendors. This work has allowed me to lay down the groundwork for what I hope to be a successful venture this summer—but more on that in a later article. Though I now have loftier goals in mind, that does not mean those goals did not all stem from these same processes. Much like floor trading, the amount of time speculators have before more stores put limitations on sales is limited, and that means you are best to stay ahead of the market. Though the same thrill of picking up a card at a fraction of the cost and buying out the Internet is still appealing, that is not what will allow you to move forward. With each passing month, it seems the window to spiking these deals becomes smaller and smaller, and in many cases, you may waste hours only to have orders canceled or for the card to see little growth.

Many people have been using the guise of speculation to claim to be in on Magic finance, which is not what makes this market. If I had to sustain on just speculations from events, I would be broke by now, as the market has flooded beyond the point of guaranteed profitability. Instead, the people who continue to stick in the game will be those who can find ways to now cater to the growing base of players. These are the future of the game, and though they may not need much now, as this generation of new players grows, your inevitable success relies very much on the support of this new customer base. It is best to help this generation, so many people feel the need to always drive value during each trade, but those who realize the new players they drive away are future business are much more likely to succeed down the road, as they will have healthy customer bases and local play groups. This can also splash over to your relationship with the LGS, as they are much more willing to work with you down the road if you keep bringing players into the community.

Scute Mob
I am glad I waited this long to cover this topic, as I feel the year has really shifted not only my personal goals, but also my understanding of where Magic is headed. With the potential boon from the upcoming movie, as well as the already-alarming rate of growth, we are likely to see a healthier community in the next five years than we ever have before. Everyone has a role he or she can fill, from the most casual of players and collectors to the next wave of retailers. I hope this week allowed you all to take a look at where you want to be in Magic and perhaps sparked some mental goals for you individually. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact me on Twitter. I will probably revisit this subject again at a later date, as I believe these goals and ceilings can and should change as the market responds. Just as speculation has devolved over the year, we will have a whole new market next year, with not only more opportunity, but more potential profit as well.

Ryan Bushard


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