Sunday, April 30, 2006

Okay - one problem gets cleared up, and another surfaces.

The (very nice) lady who had purchased the CDs that turned out to be scratched tried them out, and they work (although with some noise), and I gave her a partial reimbursement since they were not in the stated condition. She is, I believe, satisfied now with the transaction.

BUT, I then had my very first comic book sale through my store, which was great...except...I CAN'T FIND THE COMIC BOOK! I have NO idea where it is! It's not in the stack of "comics to be sold" where it should be (every OTHER comic in my store is there). My brother has no idea where it might be, my two sons have no clue, my wife is unaware of its location.

I have emailed the last 10+ people I have sold comics to in the hopes that maybe I accidentally added it to their shipment. I don't expect to get it back...but at least I would know what happened to it!

I write to the person who bought the comic (who very nicely paid within minutes of buying the thing) and told them the situation. If I haven't located the thing within 24 hours I will reimburse him for the full amount.

I can't believe this has happened. Where could that blasted thing be?

In other news: the Ice Age commons are up, and all of the photos are taken. I need to finish the uncommons and rares tomorrow - too tired tonight to tackle that many.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

I accidentally stumbled across other store selling the basic lands from Revised, Unlimited, etc. and I realized there might be a market for mine - I have several hundred. So today I took a break from typing up my Ice Age cards (110+ common card entries) and listed my basic lands as well. We'll see if anyone's interested!
Yesterday I finally managed to get the Fallen Empires expansion cards up into the store. Today I want to work on Ice Age. I probably have more Ice Age cards than any other set, with the possible exception of Revised, which is already up. I think I'm about at the half-way mark for cards now. Only Ice Age, Homelands, Alliances, Mirage and Visions to go.

I haven't decided whether to put the non-English cards I have up, or the signed ones. I'm not sure if there's a market for a Korean version of a Stronghold common card. I'll need to investigate. But they certainly will be put off for last.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Oh - I almost forgot I promised a description of the game of Magic: the Gathering.

This was the very first collectible card game (or CCG). It created the concept, which later lead to perhaps more famous games (in some circles) like Pokemon and Yu Gi Oh.

In M:tG, you and your opponent are playing combating wizards. Your deck of cards represents lands from which you can draw magical energy ("mana") and spells which you cast in an attempt to defeat your opponent. Some spells directly do damage to him/her. Some summon up creatures to do your bidding (such as bashing your opponent over the head). Some conjure up mechanical devices, called artifacts, which can assist you in your battle. Some affect the "world" you're playing in, or modify lands, creatures, or artifacts already in play.

You and your opponent take turns placing land into play, casting spells, attacking with creatures...until one of you loses (most typically by losing all "life points" - you start the game with 20 - but there are other ways to lose).

It's a very well thought out game, which is pretty easy to learn the basics of, but possibly difficult to get REALLY good at. There are, believe it or not, tournaments at which large amounts of money can be won. I've even heard of them being televised on like ESPN23 or some such station.

And, once upon a time, I bought every card which came out when it came out, and was a crazy M:tG geek and collected thousands of cards. Now I'm trying to spread them out to the people who will actually put them to use (hopefully) instead of having them sit in a dark cardboard box, fulfilling no purpose.

Okay, maybe that's overstating things. It's probably more disappointing.

One of the customers who bought one of my father's audiobooks on CD wrote to me today that she had received the item, but that the discs, contrary to the item description, were scratched, and that she wasn't even sure Disc 7 would play. Ay-yi-yi!

I cannot honestly recall checking that particular set, so they may well have been scratched when they left. She says they weren't loose in their case, so it would appear they were not damaged in transit.

This is where the trust issue comes in on eBay. It's entirely possible (although I believe it to be unlikely) that she had a scratched up set, and is trying to find a free replacement by buying from someone and then claiming her set is the one she received. Since I can't specifically remember checking that one, I can't for sure say to myself, "No way was that scratched!"

I offered to refund her money, as well as pay for shipping if she would like to return the item. She's going to try the discs and see if they work or not.

Foremost in my thoughts - I want the customer to be happy. Hopefully we can work out something where that can be accomplished.
Well, I decided I had to bite the bullet.

As previously mentioned, I had hit my PayPal account limit last month, and had to deny a couple of payments. I was thinking maybe that would be a fluke, and never be a problem again.

Then I noticed that I'd gotten in excess of $65 in payments within 24 hours of the limit resetting, and I have a limit of $500 for the whole month.

Obviously, this was not going to work.

So, I have created a new PayPal account, which accepts credit cards, and I'll just have to deal with the fees incurred by each payment. Better to lost $0.30 + 2.9% each time than to lose entire sales and customers due to the complexity of sending funds to another account (many people are surprisingly unable to handle anything other than "Click on Pay Now"). I suspect some potential customers have been turned away by my warnings of having to wait for instructions on how to pay by credit card.

Now I have to figure out if there's an easy way to get rid of the "For credit card orders..." message in each and every one of my store listings. Ugh.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I'm so proud of myself! I created a logo for my store tonight, using my new favorite program, IrfanView. It's what I'm using to edit my photos since yesterday, and I thought to myself, "Self, you really need a real store logo. Why not rip off the Magic: the Gathering logo and modify it for yourself?"

And so, I did. What do you think?

Actually, at the store, the logo's size is off, and it's a little dark, so it needs some work. But it's a far cry better than the generic-type logo from eBay I was using before this.

The other project of the day has been working on the Chronicles expansion cards. I've taken all the photos, and need to now type up descriptions and load them up to the store.

Next post I think I'll describe Magic: the Gathering a bit for you all...making the assumption that not everyone who may read this will have any frackin' clue what the game is.
Well, the limit on my PayPal account finally reset yesterday. Unfortunately the 5 pending payments, which I had hoped would just roll in once the limit was renewed, just sat there waiting for me to accept or deny. Accepting meant moving up to the Premier account, which meant losing $0.30 + deny away I went. Hopefully those 5 people will be understanding and will resend their payments, which will now be able to just come right in.

A royal pain in the tuchus, this.

In better news, two more customers yesterday - one bought some Antiquities cards less than 20 minutes after they went up. Glad I got them up there. I think that I've made back about 50% of my listing fees now for all the cards I've put up. Hopefully some more will sell soon. I'd hate to have gone through all this only to have to close down the store as being a money pit!

Today's project is to get the rest of my Dad's audiobook CDs up (I'll leave the cassettes for a later day, as they seem to be less popular), and start on the next set of Magic cards (Chronicles - a set which reprinted cards from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends and The Dark, but with white borders instead of black). I figure at this rate I may get my entire Magic inventory up before the end of my free month trial period for the store!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

FINALLY! I just finished photographing the Legends and Antiquities cards, and got them posted in the store. WHEW!

I still have to take photos of cards from The Dark, but I promised my sons I'd go outside and play on this gorgeous day, and then it's off to pick up my wife from work and get free ice cream at Ben and Jerry's! Yum! Maybe I'll get to those others when we get back.

Oh - and I had my second customer at the store - a very nice individual from Italy. Thank you Gabriele!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Well, today didn't end up as planned.

I spent a great deal of time Saturday typing up descriptions of all of my remaining Legends (Uncommons and Rares) and Antiquities (all). Today was to be the day I'd take their photos, add them to the listings and get the cards added to my store's inventory.

Unfortunately, my wife went off on a walking tour of Georgetown with her friend from Austria and took the digital camera with her. Poopie! (as we people with young kids say)

So, anyway, I instead got a lot more of my Dad's audiobooks typed up and in the store. At least I got SOMETHING accomplished today.

Have I mentioned that this store thing is a lot of work? I think I might have said something about that.

On a side note - all this handling of Magic cards has really got me jonesin' to play the game again. Anyone else in Germantown, MD or surrounding environs want to play?

Do I even remember how to?

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Someone just made the first purchase from the store. Purchases, actually! Four common Legends cards. Woo-hoo! Maybe this store thing will turn out to be a good idea after all!!!!!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

WHEW - I just got done typing up descriptions for every card in Antiquities I have, and all the rest of the cards from Legends. Hopefully tomorrow (after I finish writing my final event for the University of Maryland's Chemathon) I can get them photographed and then up into the store.

Still no sales from the store. BUY SOMETHING PEOPLE! Okay, sorry - had to let that out.
I feel I must give some apologies to the USPS site. I went there and sent in an email asking if there was any way to get the postage that I had lost yesterday when the Click-N-Ship label didn't print. Very soon after I got an automated reply which told me how to file for a refund. I feel much better now. It takes 14 days to process (to make sure that label doesn't get used, I guess), but at least I'm not out the money.

I'm still going to only print postage from PayPal, though. Simpler and I can use Media Mail.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I forgot to mention - a few more "firsts" today. I actually used the "print mailing label" feature in eBay to print out postage for two packages through PayPal. Very cool. I was able to do this thanks to my new toy - a digital postage scale I bought off of someone else on eBay.

I have now ordered a pack of self-stick postage labels which are designed to work with the USPS and UPS mailing label protocols. From now on, trips to the post office may be just to drop off packages. And can't I just hand them to the mail person when s/he delivers our mail, actually?

On a sour note - when I couldn't initially figure out how to get a mailing label going through eBay for a person who mailed me a money order (if the auction is paid through PayPal it's easy), I tried to use the "Click 'n ship" or whatever the heck they call it at - YUCK! First, I didn't have the option of using Media Mail as I can the other way. Then the site burped and froze as I was trying to print my label - so, no label, but a $4.80 charge to my credit card nonetheless! I need to contact the USPS customer service and see if there's any way to get that reversed. I did finally manage to get the thing printed through eBay, so now I know how to do it. The site can kiss my behind!
I have just finished sorting my cards.

In the past, I had my cards sorted into basically three sections per expansion or edition: common cards, uncommon cards, and "goodies". The last category included all rare cards and also more popular (and therefore pricier) commons and uncommons.

For purposes of the store, I decided to revert to simply common, uncommon and rare, so I had to sort out my "goodies" from the various sets. Also I had pulled ~100 cards out for potential eBay auctions about two years back, and never got around to listing them. They had to go back into place.

The editions I have cards from are: Unlimited, Revised, Fourth and Fifth. The expansions I have cards in are: Antiquities, Legends, The Dark, Chronicles, Ice Age, Fallen Empires, Alliances, Mirage, Homelands, and Visions.

So far I have inventoried (as in typed up descriptions of and taken photos of) only Unlimited (all), Revised (all) and Legends (commons only). I figure I have inventoried roughly 3/8 of my cards, although that does not translate into 3/8 of the work. I have more cards in Revised than any other set, and I only have to write the description of Merfolk of the Pearl Trident once, despite having 50+ copies of the card.

I've got a lot of work ahead of me....and nothing has sold yet from the store. Makes me wonder if I should bother doing the rest of them! Ah - I can't get discouraged yet. The store's only a day old.

Oh, speaking of the store - I finally have some "Sundry" up as well. I added ten of my father's audiobooks today, just so the "Sundry" part of the name made some sense :-)
I contacted a couple of customers who had recently bought Magic cards from me to let them know that I was opening an eBay store. I was a little nervous about this, thinking they might be offended at the basically unsolicited email (in other words, near-spam).

When I got this reply, it made me feel really good about my business:

"It's sellers like you that make Ebay a great place to shop! I will be checking(buying)out your store when it opens..."

Okay - maybe I'm doing something right here after all!
You know, managing an eBay store is a lot more work than you might imagine. Even before I created the store yesterday, I have been working over the past week to write up item descriptions and take photos of a bunch of Magic cards. And there's a bunch more to go. I've gotten over 200 cards photographed and described, and there are thousands more to go.

The descriptions can take a while. I wanted my item descriptions to include at least a brief summary of what each card does, because I figure not everyone out there knows what each card does. As a neat consequence of this (unintentional, but cool) is that a buyer can search at my store for certain types of cards. Since I mention, for example, if a card is an "Enchant Land" card, a buyer can search at my store for "Enchant Land" in the titles and description, and get a list of all the Enchant Land cards I currently have for sale. I don't know that my store is unique in this way, but it's probably among the few that bother to take the time.

While I was writing up these descriptions, I was wondering if some of the cards were still in print. I haven't bought new Magic cards in years, and the game has evolved quite a bit in that time. I found a cool site, where you can search for any card in the game. It shows the picture, gives a description, tells you which edition(s) or expansion(s) of the game the card was in. It's chock full of useful information about the game.
Okay - time for my latest headache.

In case you are unaware, there are three levels of PayPal account. The "personal" account does not accept credit cards, but can receive funds from direct transfer or echeck at no charge (up to $500 per month).

If you have a "premier" or "business" account, you can accept credit cards, but EVERY transaction gets hit with a charge of $0.30 + 2.9% of the transaction, whether it's a credit card charge or not.

Since I end up selling a lot of items at small amounts (like $0.99), and I'm already paying eBay's listing fee ($0.20 for an item up to $0.99) and final value fees, I'd end up making next to nothing if I got socked with a PayPal charge on top of it all. So, my account is just a personal account.

But, you can drive away customers if you announce "no credit cards" on your auctions. My wife has a premier PayPal account, and can accept credit cards. If someone wants to use a credit card, I ask them to send the funds to her account instead. This causes some problems sometimes (since few people actually read their invoices, and they just click on the "Pay Now" button), but most people are understanding when I deny their payment and send instructions on how to send to my wife's account.

BUT, for the first time ever I have run up against my $500 limit in my PayPal account! If anyone tries to pay me between now and Tuesday 4/25, I can't accept the funds. But I have several auctions ending on Saturday and Sunday. What to do?

My wife and I have a third account, which is also a personal one. So what I am doing this morning is going through my 76 auctions and revising each one, replacing once PayPal account with another, so the funds go to an account which can actually accept them. And I'm not sure I can edit the ones which already have bids on them - the very ones which are the most likely to need the change!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Well, the items are loaded. I had a bit of a panic at first. After the first few items loaded, I eagerly jumped to view my store.



Clicks and clicks later I go back to the store...a few items are showing. AH! It takes a while for the store's inventory to update after the items are uploaded to eBay. WHEW!

Currently up for sale are cards from the Unlimited and Revised Editions, as well as common cards from the Legends Expansion. Many, many, many, many more to follow.

Now we sit back and see if anyone actually buys anything, or if I just wasted some money listing cards that no one wants!
All right! Don's Magic and Sundry is online and taking shape. The hardest part in some ways was coming up with a name for the store. Initially I thought I'd tie in our user name (wormwig - explanation will follow sometime), but that didn't sit right.

Earlier today I had this brilliant (I thought) idea: Since I will primarily be selling Magic: the Gathering cards, but my point is to send out the cards across the world, shouldn't I call it "Magic: the Dispersing"?

This was given massive thumbs-down votes by both my wife and my brother. Drat.

Finally, I settled on "Don's Magic and Sundry" because, while I will be selling mostly MtG, there's going to be (ultimately) comic books, audiobooks, and who-knows-what up there as well. Thus, the "Sundry".

Next step...updating the inventory that I've been preparing over the last week...
Well, here I am, trying something new...actually several somthings. My first Blog, and my first eBay store.

I have been selling on eBay for a couple of years now. First, my Magic: the Gathering cards. Then I grew slightly tired of that and started working on my comic book collection. Next came my Doctor Who novels. Lately, my father has asked me to help him unload his huge collection of audiobooks. Interspersed within all of that has been the occasional video game, Jerry Seinfeld tickets and even a piccolo trumpet.

Lately I started back into the Magic cards, but I realized that individual auctions was really not the way to go with the thousands of cards left in my collection. Then I had the brilliant (?) idea of creating an eBay store. The first month is free, so what the heck?

It was my wife's idea to start the Blog. Advertising and cathartic outporing rolled into one! So here it adventures in eBay sales. To be continued...