This is the comment that inspired this article:
Is this “Trade up at sell price, trade down at buylist price” model really that ethical? If I make 2 trades with someone, and I change my prices between trades, he or she is going to feel cheated.
First off I want to say thank you to Michael Riley for posting this because I read it last Friday and have been writing and planning this article all week because of it. I have encouraged comments of all kinds in this column and I am grateful to hear what all of you have to say. Last week Michael asked a tough question and I want to spend this week thoroughly answering it and giving some personal insight. Again, I encourage anyone and everyone to post a question or a comment on how you feel. If you disagree with me I want to know about it and why. Only through challenging each other can we all grow. So thank you Michael Riley for reminding me of this very important aspect of the MTG Finance/Trade World.
BEING A CHAMELEON
You have to choose what kind of trader you want to be in each environment you are in. At the local game store level I usually leave my big trader binder at home. I prefer to enjoy more casual trades and use my small cards to trade up into bigger cards. That means that at no time will I be in a situation where the “double standard” or “feeling cheated” scenario arises.
This is also true at the GP level where I normally only bring my big trade binder and trade into tickets or bulk rares for the most part. This means I am rarely if ever going to use the two different techniques on the same person.
The Magic finance and trading world is a grey area. Nothing about magic finance/trading or most of life for that matter is black or white. There have been people who have challenged my practices or those of other floor vendors before and there will be more in the future. But, as I talked about in an earlier article about the Prize Ticket trade structure system I created, I found a way for both people to profit on the same trade by changing the commodity exchange from cards for cards to cards for tickets. I have found peace in that system and believe others have and will continue to find ways for both people to profit in trades.
WHAT DOES THE WORD “PROFIT” MEAN?
For many players, they profit from playing Magic, from having fun with a community, and having a hobby they play with friends. If you go out for drinks with friends that money is gone. With a hobby like Magic, some of the money you spent to have fun (a draft) is left over in the bomb rare that won you the draft and all the packs you won and then cracked for fun. Now for those players who may not play Standard those winnings/those cards sit in their trade binder and wait to become Modern staples they want. So when I offer to take all their Standard cards for a Modern staple they don’t really care that I get a small percentage because they are already getting their own kind of “profit” and they were never going to play with those cards anyways.
So all in all “profit” and how players enjoy the game and the different formats and the different subcultures of Magic make all of this a grey area where a simple answer to a complex question is, “Yes I make money off of trades, but no I don’t feel like I am lying or taking advantage of anyone.”
UNREGULATED STOCK MARKET
Magic’s secondary market is an unregulated stock market. For those willing to work for it, there is profit to be made, but unlike Wall Street where everyone is clearly competitive, in Magic we have a lot of subcultures inside our subculture. MTG Finance is a very small world.
There are many kinds of Magic players who will never read or even think about reading a column about Magic finance. But for those of you reading this you deserve to profit because you have put in the time. Those of you reading this put in the hours to read articles, study card prices and follow trends.
The only question that remains is HOW you will go about making the profit you are seeking.
I DON’T LIE
I don’t lie about card prices. If someone asks me the price of the card we will look it up together on TCG Player. When I’m trading up I use straight across TCG Player prices and for all intents and purposes look like and am a “normal” trader.
When I trade down I do take a percentage, yes, but do I feel like that’s a double standard, no. Many traders of all kinds ask for different percentages when trading down or when trading Standard cards for Legacy staples or visa versa. That is a common trade practice.
I don’t ever want anyone to feel cheated in a trade. In fact if I don’t think they are happy with the trade that is about to occur I will stop the trade myself. I want return customers but even more importantly I want happy customers. I want people to know I have worked very hard to obtain the knowledge I have, but that I plan to make profit in the most above the table and honorable way.
With so much in this life, it boils down to communication. You just want to be clear and concise with the person you are trading with. Let it be up to them or not if they feel comfortable and after they have looked at TCG and they understand exactly what the trade is going to be like let them decide what to do next. Don’t pressure someone or make him or her feel bad if they decide not to trade, that is their right. Move on to the next person and continue to hone your craft, knowing at the end of the day that you made the kind of profit you wanted and the kind of profit you can be proud of.
Colin Bevis started playing magic right after the release of Innistrad his freshman year of college. He moved to New York City this fall after traveling the country learning and surviving off of floor trading. He enjoys theatre and film, and now flies out to most U.S. GPs.