If you consistently buy packs or booster boxes of cards, there’s a good chance you’ve got a ton of cards taking up space and not doing much else. (We’ve been there—it wasn’t until recent years we started cutting our own collection down a bit and making some room for newer cards. We sold a good chunk of our personal collection and are already almost back to where we started!)
If you’ve traded with us before, you probably don’t need to read this unless you just want some more specifics of how we buy. If you’re new, this post is a good place to start if you’re looking to sell to us (or anyone else, really). It’ll help you get an idea of how we price and grade your cards.
What Factors Affect Our Pricing
Grading and selling cards is a relatively time-consuming process. Earlier in the spring, we priced out a lot of our bulk rares and binders from different card games in our personal collection. We spent a good part of a weekend with few breaks in between trying to get an estimate on everything and eventually wound up with a cohesive spreadsheet full of inventory.
Those hours don’t take into account the grading process, trying to find buyers or a good site to sell on, as well as packaging and tracking orders. A small collection like ours was manageable if we did decide to sell, but imagine scaling that up a bit into a larger collection that hasn’t been organized, priced, or graded. So if we make an offer that sounds low compared to private sales, it’s because we’re factoring in the amount of time it takes to manage and flip what you’re selling us.
And if you have sold bulk or even a large part of your collection before, you’re well aware of the time that can go into sorting even just a small collection!
Here are just a few of the costs we have to take into account:
- Seller fees associated with selling on third-party marketplaces (eBay, Amazon, TCGPlayer, and other sites all charge something to sell on their site)
- Day-to-day operations, supplies, and overhead (rent, utilities, equipment upkeep, cleaning supplies, etc.)
- Marketing, advertising, web hosting
- Other costs associated with running a business (like LLC registration, franchise taxes, insurance, and security)
In general, trading card games don’t bring in a ton of profit. Sealed TCG product has a much lower markup compared to other products, so the secondary market is our bread and butter when it comes to profiting off of TCG product lines.
How We Determine the Value of Your Cards
We looked over different pricing structures and asked other stores about how they buy and trade, and eventually settled on using TCGPlayer’s average market price for our pricing structure. We may go slightly higher or slightly lower on what we’ll pay for a card depending on how quickly we can move it and how many we have in stock. But for the most part, we’ve found that 40% of the average market price lets us turn a profit while also giving players a good deal. (It also saves you having to deal with paying for packaging, shipping, and finding buyers.)
We’ve had some questions on price matching. We don’t typically price match other sites unless we just can’t find good pricing data, which is rare with TCGPlayer. The sites that offer higher buy prices also sell higher—we want to keep our prices low.
Condition is also a huge factor in determining card value. We sell online what we can’t sell locally, so we adhere to the condition guidelines of whoever we’re working with (in this case, TCGPlayer). Once you start getting into moderately played and damaged cards, especially with bulk, there’s quite a hit on price and how quickly you can sell a card. Once we take into account the hours that go into grading, sorting, and shipping (as well as the costs associated with packaging, shipping, and seller/website fees), we barely break even on most cards that fall into anything less than slightly played. Going through them can be time-consuming, especially when it comes to bulk!
Right now, we don’t have a buylist due to the fact that we need a little bit of everything until we can maintain our inventory. We’re buying just about everything in standard sets of various card games, primarily Magic and Yugioh.
How to Determine the Condition of Your Cards
For the most part, we do a quick look at cards to see if they have any major damage. We don’t expect them to be perfect, but if you want us to buy at near mint prices, we do expect them to be in great condition. This means little to no wear on the edges, no bent corners, and no major surface scratches.
Scratches, especially minor ones, are easy to overlook. Try holding the card slightly below eye level and turning it to where the light reflects off of it. It’s much easier to see smudges and scratches under bright lighting.
While you won’t see most wear and imperfections during normal play, it’s a huge factor when we’re pricing your collection. Most of the cards we buy, we wind up selling as slightly played. Many players are willing to buy SP to save a little money since it’s just a bit of wear that’s still tournament-legal. Moderately played cards tend to be a bit of a grey area, especially when buying online. Damaged cards are not always tournament legal so we won’t consider buying these (including ones with square corners).
The exception to what we consider “near mint” are foil cards. Scratches, wear, and other imperfections show up a lot worse on foils, so they need to be in near perfect condition. Even some of the foils that we crack out of packs here at the store have to be marked down due to damage out of the pack. Sometimes it’s a manufacturing error, other times it’s due to the way the cards were packed. (You still get this with normal cards, too, but not nearly as frequently as with foils.)
For more in-detail condition guidelines, check out TCGPlayer’s Card Condition Guide. If you’re ever in question, feel free to stop by and have us take a look! Even if you’re not looking to sell immediately, we can help give you a good idea of what they typically go for.
Before Selling Your Cards
To save both you and us some time, we have a few simple requests for cards being sold:
- Make sure cards are in near mint or slightly played condition (Things slip by! The worst we’ll say is that we can’t buy it.)
- Cards should not be sleeved, even if you’re planning on getting rid of sleeves (with the exception of more expensive foils and such)
- Cards should be in English—there’s a market for foreign printing, but they can be kind of hard to find
- Miscuts will be bought at a damaged price—there’s also a market for miscuts, but those are harder to move
Beyond that, we’re more likely to buy Magic cards in Standard, as well as staples in formats like Modern and Commander. While we’d love to get our hands on older cards, we’re not quite there yet! We don’t have a ton of space to store product, so we try to move what we buy pretty quickly.
For Yugioh, we primarily buy cards legal in Advanced. Since there are tons of foil cards, we’re a little more attentive to wear and scratches on Yugioh cards.
For Pokemon, we may consider buying older cards, but for the most part, we’ll stick to Standard-legal cards. We move Pokemon more slowly than we do other card games, but are looking to expand more into that in the future.
We also offer store credit! If you’re looking to get a little more, ask about trading in for store credit. We offer up to 50% in-store credit instead of the 40% cash. You can use this for any of our products, as well as tournament entry fees.
As always, if you ever have any questions, feel free to chat with us on Facebook or contact us. We’re always happy to answer any questions or take any feedback you have for us!