AN INTERVIEW WITH A TRADER – PART TWO

Welcome Team! We are back here with Lewis McLeod founder of Union County Games to talk about what life is really like selling bits of cardboard. If you haven’t read Part One check it out, research has shown that readers who have suffer less mana flood and can blind flip delvers.


Speculation time! What do you think will be the best sellers for BFZ?

Everyone loves Planeswalkers. They are always the top sellers in the set. Away from those I think the obvious one is the new Hero’s Downfall. It’s not quite as good but its necessary. Walkers would be pretty hard to deal with if here was nothing to get rid of them outside of damage.

Anything you’d pick up?

(Editor – this interview took place before BFZ was released, I was just to damn lazy/busy to get it online.) I think in a set like this your current bulk rares is where you need to look for a gem. I really like the ‘3 mana, black draw X, where X is the number of colours used to pay for it’ card (editor – Painful Truths). I think its powerful enough to see play in your 3-4 colour decks ahead of read the bones. 3 cards for 3 mana is a great return. I’d be crazy not to mention the Expeditions. Those will be worth a huge amount in a few years I’d imagine. Star City will be the main driver of their prices. The blue ones especially.

Anything to avoid?

Akoum Firebird and Beastcaller Savant.
Akoum Firebird and Beastcaller Savant.

Inevitably a lot of the mythics will tank. You’ll probably have that one that sky rockets like a few of the Jaces did but as more of the set gets opened and more and more product floods the market supply will inevitably outweigh demand. This set is a funny one though. People had set their pre-order prices pretty low and we’re seeing a few of them creep up at the moment, so this set might break the usual mold of everything tanking because of the low start out points.

How do you juggle MTG life and Muggle Life?

One day son, all these bits of cardboard will be yours.
One day son, all these bits of cardboard will be yours.

Not very well at the moment. We’ve just got in 2 massive collections so sorting them and restocking the site is taking up so much time! My little boy is swimming and doing classes as well so among work, watching my little boy and the site I basically don’t have a life. I still play footy every week which is sweet and I’m desperate to play more MTG but finding the time is impossible. I’m finding it tough because before I started all this a few years ago I was a bit of a party animal. Going out all the time because I had no responsibilities. Being a dad is a game changer, I’ve had to grow up :(.

Do you prefer Online or Face to Face Trading?

Face to face for sure. Online is quick and easy but I’m a people person. I love the banter. Not getting to play many events anymore is frustrating at times but as long as I’m involved in the day I’m cool with it, especially if my mates are winning!

Sounds like a lot of laughs which seems rare – traders seems so dull at GPs. Any funny stories?

Sadly there’s not much to report on the funny side of being a trader. I guess something that always sticks out are the faces of some people when you offer something lower than expected for a casual foil always cracks me up. The thing most people don’t get is that even though your foil might be worth a lot, it’s not necessarily desirable to customers. As traders, we don’t want stock to sit in the cabinet for months/years as most casual foils have a reprint in them somewhere down the line. I’d love to be able to make everyone happy by offering them what they want for their cards, but I’d go bankrupt pretty fast!

I have a funny (horrifying) story from a GP I attended years ago. I took my girlfriend to a European GP and while we were there I asked her to come check out the hall as it was huge!

While we were there I was showing her the expensive cards in a traders cabinet. We both had a drink in our hands and I made the point to say we need to be careful around these as they were full of black bordered Duals etc.

I finish this trade with them, lean over to collect my cards off the cabinet and water start pouring onto their case because I hadn’t closed my drink!

Dogs hate the thought of drinks next to Power 9 cards.
Dogs hate the thought of drinks next to Power 9 cards.

I’ve never seen MTG players move as fast as that in my life!! Luckily nothing was damaged but I was bricking it for the 2 mins they were cleaning it!

It’s all coming out now! Alright biggest haul you’ve ever had.

I’ve brought collections with power which were certainly the biggest, but the most important were the bulk rare lots I picked up when I first started trading. I was still trading off to buy lists at the time and they allowed me to trade up to standard playables I could sell at events.

Ever had any awkward customers at these events :)?

Probably best I don’t name and shame but everyone has those guys at their local FNMs where they hand you their folders and nothing is for trade out of them.

If it vexes Picard...don't do it.
If it vexes Picard…don’t do it.

I get those all the time! I don’t mind but I end up thinking “why did you give me your folder in the first place?” I also get a few people who ask me how much the same card is over and over again. I think the worst is when someone offers you a card, you give a price and they go away and mull over it. They don’t get back to you though but the next time you’re there they do the same thing again for the same card! That one really is annoying!

Lastly any tips for a wannabe traders.

Work out what you need before you go and buy everything! I certainly over-brought accessory stock at the start thinking it would sell like hot cakes! That was money I could have used on different things that would have sold better. You really need to look into everything before going gung-ho to. I did it the gung-ho way and probably didn’t use my money the best way I could have. Work out your hidden costs too.

There’s loads of them.

The first rung on the ladder is trading at local events. Get your name out there and then try to expand across the country. We’re very young at the moment but building relationships with TOs has certainly helped me with re-stocking because I can vend their events every month now. Having a goal is crucial as well. We want to be vending at GPs possibly next year so we’re trying our best to get into a position where we will have the stock and the float to make that a reality.

A typical scene at a UK GP...someone wearing pink trousers punts a game, his friend then drops the People's elbow on him and a smug git watching points out the correct play.
A typical scene at a UK GP…someone wearing pink trousers punts a game, his friend then drops the People’s elbow on him and a smug git watching points out the correct play.

The main thing is to have fun in what you’re doing. This isn’t my main source of income so I can get away with saying that. When it becomes un-fun I’ll seriously think about my options as taking stress home to the family isn’t where I want to be.

Advertising is huge too. At first I had no idea how to advertise properly. Business cards, shirts, even just getting your name mentioned on trading sites is a big gain. Also, having mates with awesome blogs like this one is pretty sweet!

Cheers Lewis! We’ve got a couple of reader questions:
How much product do you open to have enough in stock?
Dave Gale – Taunton Magic the Gathering FB Page

As we’re are small compared to most stores we only open around 10 cases every release. Luckily we are quite active in the South West and South Wales communities and vending those events give us the opportunity to buy in the hot cards from new sets. Our Hot Buylist we have onsite at most events also helps. We offer higher buylist prices on cards we are short of.

What are the most and least valuable cards that get sold?

People like certain basic lands. I had to take them off the site when we first started up because finding them was a nightmare (we have tens of thousands unsorted basics lying around in the office)! We recently sold a fair amount of Power 9 which was exciting! Sending it in the post was rough though. Bricking it is an understatement! When we are events people like buying Dual Lands and other expensive EDH foil staples from us. They are certainly the most consistent high value sellers.

What sells well that you wouldn’t expect (like bad commons)?

Casual cards are huge sellers. All sorts of ‘random’ cards competitive players probably don’t even know exist sell very well. At the end of the day MTG isn’t just addictive from a playing point of view, it’s super collectible as well.

Does the trader have their own ‘private collection’, and is it as saucy as the words ‘private collection’ seem when put in quotation marks?
Vincent Chandler: Magic the Gathering Southampton FB Page

I currently don’t although I think about starting one all the time! If I’m honest the thing that stops me starting one again is that I can’t be bothered with the hassle of trading anymore.

As a brief(ish) aside; too many people looking to nickel and dime you at events nowadays. The rise of the ‘backpack trader’ is actually the worst thing to ever happen to trading. You know the guys I mean, the ones at the trading tables at GPs and big PPTQs (and certain trading groups) throwing out numbers on your cards waiting for you to not know the price of one! Don’t let those guys rip you off. They are players pretending to be traders trying to purposely rip people off who don’t know the prices of their own cards. They haven’t paid any more than you to be there (probably less as most of them don’t even play in the event!). Don’t be afraid to use your phone for prices. Don’t let them bully you into selling cards for way less than you want to.

Luckily my friends have sizable collections and generally hate the decks I play so they lend me the cards for events.

Lewis insists his office is always ready to receive
Lewis insists his office is always ready to receive “guests”

Now you’ve put private collection in quotation marks and asked me about the sauciness of it all. I’m picturing a private collection laid out behind a red satin curtain, with a pulley to open them out onto my office – I’ve got my Red Light on! So yeah, way saucier!

Cheers for the questions guys.
Lewis.


Lewis hails from the South West of England, if you play or want to play MTG in the Taunton area join their Facebook Group. Again check out Union County Games and make Lewis spend more time away from his family. The TCG Mid Prices definitely make it worth it!

Chris


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