Monday, July 31, 2006

Arabian Nights are up!

Today I finished getting the cards from the Arabian Nights set all up in the Store. There's some truly impressive cards in there. I convinced Alan to try selling these individually instead of a complete set, since it should (in theory) net more when they sell that way.

I have also gone through and confirmed that the sets of Antiquities, The Dark and Legends are complete. He's got 2 complete sets of the first two, even! And, frankly, these are some of the most Mint cards I've seen in quite some time. Alan made the sets when the Expansions came out - he bought multiple boxes of each Expansion, and made the sets as he opened the packs. These cards have never been in decks, never been shuffled, barely been touched, even. I even felt guilty going through them myself!

I need to take some photos of the better cards to include with the listing, tomorrow, then they'll be up as well. There are other sets to go through as well. Hopefully I can get them all cleared and up tomorrow. Some of the sets may not be complete, however, and I'll need to look into acquiring the missing cards first. Hopefully not too many fall into that category.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I now own an Alpha Mox Pearl. Ye Gods!

Okay, last night I went over to my friend's house (howdy, Alan!) - the one who was interested in having me sell (or buy) his Magic collection. He had given me a figure that he would consider fair (and I agreed with him) to buy him out. An alternative was to sell them for him at 50% commission.

I wasn't sure I wanted to (or should) shell out his asking price all at once (while fair, it was a lot). But I knew I sure as heck didn't want to keep meticulous careful notes on thousands of cards, which would be necessary if I went the commission route.

When I got there last night, he proposed a compromise which I found nothing short of brilliant. He sold me the bulk of his collection for a certain amount (I won't disclose, but let's say I should have no problem making my money back and then fact I've told him that if I end up making a LOT more than that - like 4x or more - I'd give him some more because I don't want to take advantage of a friend). And the rest of his cards, which represent complete sets of things, (like the 3 copies of the complete Collector's Edition, two of which are already up for auction or in the Store) I will sell for him at 50% commission. This means I'll only have to keep very careful track of ~100 items, which I don't find unreasonable.

So, anyway, this brings me to the title of my post today. One of the cards in the bulk of his collection is a Mox Pearl (one of the 9 most highly sought after cards in Magic, called collectively the "Power 9"). Not only is it a Mox Pearl, though - it's an ALPHA Mox Pearl.

Okay, okay. For some of you that was impressive. Others are left saying "wha, huh?"

Let me explain. Magic: the Gathering started with a print run which accidentally left out three cards, and had some other minor errors. This run is now known as the "Alpha Limited Edition" (or Alpha for short). Wizards of the Coast (the company that makes Magic) almost immediately fixed that problem and started a second run ("Beta").

This makes the Alpha cards quite, quite rare, and basically the oldest Magic cards in existence. Probably by itself it the Alpha Mox Pearl will bring in $400+.

I have a lot of work ahead of me - Alan had a LOT of cards. But I look forward to seeing what he owned (what I now own) and what the sales will bring.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Did someone say "Lot 3"?

Okay, yes, I did it again.

The same gentleman in Arlington, VA who sold me Lot 2 had a lot of 1700+ cards up on eBay, including lots of good rares which should do well in the Store. Initially I bid only $50 for the lot and was winning it at $10.50 for a while. Yesterday I got outbid, and then that person got outbid...

After some thought and further research on the expected sales values of the listed cards I decided I was willing to go up to $100. So, with barely 1 minute left today on the auction I bid $100. The high bidder had only bid $99, so away I walked with what will now be referred to as "Lot 3". The seller is going to be unavailable this weekend and most of next week, so instead of heading over to Arlington to meet with him, I've shelled out $20 (plus $3 for insurance) to have them shipped via USPS Priority Mail. He hopes to ship tomorrow morning, so I should receive them on Monday.

As for Lots 1 and 2, here's the current update. I have now taken into account the listing fees for these Lots (although I've not yet factored in the Final Value Fees, so the figures are still off a tad):

Lot 1: -16.63 (we're getting there)
Lot 2: -20.70 (not bad considering I paid $99 to begin with)

I'm still confident that a profit will be had...eventually.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Biggest order EVER!

Okay - I'm not sure why I didn't write about this yesterday (when the order was placed) unless it was just that I wanted to make sure the order was paid for before I started crowing about it.

Yesterday I started up my email to find 61 "eBay Store Item Sold" messages. WOW! A guy in Italy (howdy, Guido!) had put together quite an order. As I started to put together his two invoices (remember, eBay will only allow 40 on one invoice for some reason) I noticed that some of the "items" were actually multiple card orders, so the order was for more that 61 cards.

Then I noticed, as I prepared the second invoice, that it was for more than 61 items.


A quick check back to the email revealed three new messages - and more coming in as I watched! Oy! He wasn't done yet!

A few hours later (I am NOT making this up) his order was complete. A total of 198 "items" had sold with a total of ~270 cards, for around $108! Yippeee!

Now I am printing out packing slips (it took 5 invoices for this order) and getting ready to go pull his cards. Fun, fun, fun! Many of the cards are from Lot 2, so I will have to update you on that later.

In other news, I finished identifying all my non-English cards, and got some German cards up in the Store yesterday. I hope to get the rest of the German ones and some Italian ones up later today.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Korean, Japanese or Chinese? Portuguese or Spanish?

These are questions I've been struggling with lately.

Monday I spent most of the day (thanks to my wonderful mother who watched my son for me so I could) taking ~670 photographs of all of the non-English Magic cards that I own. I got them through various sources - most of them from family who went to Europe and bought a couple packs for me years ago, and a gift subscription a friend (thanks, Derrick!) gave me to The Duelist, the official Magic magazine at the time, which included one pack of every expansion of Magic that came out that year in every language published.

Besides English, Magic is published in Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. The German I had no trouble with - I took German in school, and my wife speaks it with the Boys, so I know enough to identify them easily. French and Italian I know enough to sort out fairly easily. But Spanish vs. Portuguese really gave me a hard time at first - eventually, with the help of the tilde (~) (over n's in Spanish, but a's in Portuguese) and Alta Vista's Babel Fish online translator, I was able to sort them out.

But the Asian languages? Now THEY gave me trouble. I was able to sort them into three piles, basically, after some study. My older son was in Chinese immersion for Kindergarten last year, and actually helped me ID which pile was Chinese. Then my Mom on Monday confirmed for me which one was Korean. Obviously the odd one out is Japanese.

I've spent the last three days using the online Magic search engine I found before to identify the cards' English names, and rarities. Thankfully the Advanced search allows a search by artist, so I was able to, for example, look for any Green cards in Tempest by Brian Snoddy and then just match the picture and I know the card.

WHEW! And, of course, I'm not done yet. I still have to process the photos I took (I wanted to wait until I had identified the cards, since I need to know what to call the .jpg file) and then type up descriptions. I believe some of the photos will end up not being used, as I will most likely end up offering many (most?) of the common cards as lots, which means new photos need to be taken.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

More experimentation

I was not going to list any audiobooks for auction this week, as auction sales have been pathetically low these last few weeks. It costs ~$3.50 to list 10 of them, since I generally start the bidding between $1 and $9.99. This means if only one sells, with the PayPal fees and Final Value Fees deducted, there's not much (if any) money left over for Dad.

BUT this changed when eBay announced a 2-day sale on their listings for 7/20 and 7/21. Auction and Fixed Price items only $0.20 apiece. SO, I listed 20 audiobooks to auction on Thursday as 3-day auctions (ending later today) and another 20 on Friday as 7-day auctions.

Already three of the ones ending Friday have bids, and one ending later today has been bid up from an initial $7.50 to $12. Not bad at all. And it only cost $4 for each batch to list them, so there's a pretty good return. Additionally, one of the books from the Store sold for $20, and it's possible that one of the auction books led the person to my Store.

The Big Bad News of late is that later in August eBay is changing their Store fees. What now costs $0.02 to list in the Store will go up to $0.05 - a rather substantial increase. And the Store Item Final Value Fees will also be increasing. All in all, it's going to be a great deal less cost-effective to have a large Store inventory like I have.

So, I also listed a whole lot of my own stuff for auction or fixed price this week, taking advantage of the $0.20 sale. So far none of the auction items have bids. I did, however, relist the 10 Fixed Price Magic cards that didn't sell last week, and three of them have sold. Go figure.

Next time I'll have a Lot 1 and Lot 2 update as well as the results of all the auctions and stuff this week.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some quick updates...

I just thought I'd bring you up to speed on a couple of items...

First off, the attempt to have comic book auctions that end on Friday night was a complete disaster. Absolutely none of them sold. Was it the day of the week? Or did I not list comics people were interested in? Impossible to know the reason for sure, of course, but I think that I will avoid Friday night endings from now on.

Next up the fixed price Magic cards. None of them sold either, but I believe that they did help drive some traffic to the Store, so for that purpose they were worthwhile. I have relisted the 10 items this week, but changed it so that they end on Sunday night instead of Tuesday night. That might increase the number of them that sell, as they will appear higher on search lists during those crucial weekend sales days.

As for the Lots, I have sold cards from both so far. Lot 1 still has $21.25 to go to break even, and Lot 2 still has $82.10 to break even. These figures do not include the fees to list the items (or the Final Value Fees of the sold items), but it also does not include cards that have sold but payment has not yet arrived. I still believe I will make a profit on both of these Lots, but it will obviously take a while.

No further word from the seller who had filed an Item Not Received complaint with eBay. Hopefully that means that my evidence of delivery was enough to quiet that. I'm hoping it was a simple case of forgetting that they had gotten the card, and now they're embarrassed.

Finally, a bit of an oddity - for some reason I had very poor sales over the weekend (my typical busy time), yet in the past 24 hours I have sold three sets of comics for $42 total to three different people (including one in Portugal!). I have no idea what is suddenly driving traffic to my Comic Book section (I have none up for Fixed Price or Auction right now), but I'm glad for it!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Amazing Spider-Man 36 CGC 9.4 White Pages 9/11 story; Akira 1 Katsuhiro Otomo CGC 9.4 White Pages; Superman/Batman 8 1st Print CGC 9.6 First Supergirl

My package from the CGC arrived today. I now have three CGC graded comics listed in my store. I'm not sure if I'm thrilled about the gradings - only 9.4 for two of the comics ("Near Mint") and a 9.6 for the least-valued of the three ("Near Mint+"). But in theory it increases the value of the books.

I had some trouble decided on the price of these three. There are few comps out there to use to gauge what to charge. Most of the other Amazing Spider-Man #36 issues graded 9.4, for example, are signed by either the author (J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame) or the artist (John Romita Jr.). That, of course, increases their value - but by how much? The only CGC graded copies of Akira #1 on eBay right now are rated 9.6, not 9.4 - again this increases the value, but by how much? And most of the copies of Superman/Batman #8 that are CGC rated on eBay right now are second or third printings, which decreases their value.

I finally settled on prices ($80, $100 and $60, respectively). It cost me over $60 to have these graded, so I hope that I can get that money back at the very least. We shall see. I'll of course keep you posted.

Another issue which I had not anticipated - the cases that these comics are now sealed in are larger than any box I currently have. I'm not sure how I'm going to ship these things when they're bought!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Best $0.14 I ever spent?

When I ship off a single card, the card + plastic sleeve ("toploader") + bubble mailer envelope comes to just a tad under 1 ounce, so the basic postage is $0.39. Since a bubble mailer is "nonmachinable", there's a $0.13 surcharge added to that. And when I order a mailing label through PayPal, there's an additional $0.14 charge to get a tracking number. All told then a single card costs me $0.66 to ship (plus the cost of the materials: ~$0.08 for the toploader, ~$0.20 for the mailer and ~$0.04 for the label, or $0.32 total there).

Anyway, the point to this is that today a customer from back in May opened a dispute claiming that their item was never received. I shipped that item back on 5/24. Using the USPS website tracking function, I find that the package was delivered on May 30.

SO, either the USPS website is somehow wrong, the package was delivered and stolen, the customer has forgotten that it arrived, or the customer is just for some reason out to get me. Thankfully, I have a tracking number and the USPS site on my side in this dispute, should it go any further (I provided all this info to the customer and hopefully it will not go any further than this). If I had simply taken the package to the Post Office and not gotten the tracking number, I'd have nothing but a receipt saying I shipped something to Independence, LA on May 24. This way I have a little bit more ammo as it were.

So, very glad to have spent that particular $0.14!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Good news for once!

Yesterday I managed (somehow) to get the digital camera to work long enough to take my pictures of "Lot 1", and between yesterday and today got them all up in the store. Now to wait for the orders...Here, orders! Here, boy!

I'm trying a couple of experiments this week. First off, I have several comic book auctions up which will end on Friday night. I don't know if that will be a good idea or not. We'll see. Second, I am not putting any Magic cards on auction. Instead I have moved several over to Fixed Price (basically the same idea as a Store item, as it has a Buy It Now price, but it will show up in searches more prominently). I put up 10 cards which will hopefully prove to be popular in searches, and may lead to more traffic to the store. Again, we'll see.

Lot update: I have sold three cards from "Lot 2" for a total of $9.25 so far. Only $89.75 still to go to break even :-) Nothing sold yet from "Lot 1".

Sunday, July 09, 2006

MtG: Flooded Strand - Onslaught - RARE

This is the title of a listing which came as a bit of a surprise when I was entering the cards from the second lot that I purchased (the one I ran down to Arlington to pick up).

The way I type up items is that I enter the descriptive information: title, set and rarity for the item title; what the card does and its condition for the text description. Then I research the card on eBay to see what other people are offering them up for. I then price mine such that they aren't the cheapest available, but are a bit below what seems to be the average.

Well, when it came to research Flooded Strand I found that this card is, for some reason, extremely popular. My price ended up being $15 for the blasted thing! Very pleasing to find that there was such a valuable card in the lot that I was unaware of. The puzzling thing is that I cannot tell why it's so popular! It seems to me to not be such an incredibly useful card. The only thing I can think of is that someone must have used this card in a deck to win a tournament or something similar. If a card is a key card in a winning deck like that, it suddenly gains a massive popularity world-wide as people scramble to recreate or improve on that winning deck.

Anyway, the point to this post here is that last night I completed the listings for "Lot 2" (as I've been calling it) and got them all up in the store. Suddenly "the Sundry" has a lot more categories available, as most of these cards were from sets that I didn't previously own any cards in.

Now I need to tackle "Lot 1" - that set of mostly common cards I won a while back. The problem? Our digital camera has started acting up, and I am unable to take photos at the moment. I ended up scanning the last few cards I wanted to get up today (a few Slivers that I took out of a deck), and the scans are just too grainy. I have abandoned that as a viable option. So, now I either hope our camera starts behaving itself, or look into buying a cheap digital with no bells & whistles (since I don't need anything fancy for my purposes). SIGH.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Star Wars Giga Pets Yoda NIB Tamagotchi Tiger

This was the title of one of the toy items I mentioned in my last entry ("NIB" is "New In Box" for the uninitiated). My Mom had found this item at a thrift store or flea market for "almost nothing" as she put it. She thought I might enjoy playing with it, or else sell it on eBay. That was about a year and a half or two years ago.

When I researched this item I found only two similar listings on eBay - one current auction which was only bid up to $1, and one which had sold for a final bid of around $18. Both of these were (from the picture) not "NIB" so I figured mine could probably go for higher. I considered asking $20, then decided to go for $25 and see if I'd get it.

I did.

Less than three hours later.

Now I have mixed emotions - equal parts elation that I sold it for $25 and dread that I probably could have gotten more. Ah, well - a good profit any which way. I called my Mom and told her the good news, and also told her to keep an eye out for any such items in the future (she's a glass dealer on eBay, so she's constantly at flea markets, thrift stores, antiques shoppes, etc. looking for a good deal). I'll resell them for her for a percentage :-)

New stuff in the store!

Well, I've gotten quite a few new things up in the store over the last couple of days. Mostly in the form of cards from "Lot 2" as I'm calling it (the set of cards I hopped on the Metro down to Arlington for). In fact, one of them has already sold (for $1.50) so I'm on way to recouping the $99 I spent on them! I still have more to get up, but it's begun.

The thing I'm most excited about is a couple of toys and some comic-related buttons that I've added to the inventory. These are things I've had lying around for some time now. A couple were presents to me, some I picked up as freebies, others I bought. Most have few or no competition on eBay that I can find. The buttons in particular I found no others up for sale. This makes it hard to set a price - what is reasonable?

I finally decided to ask a what seemed to me to be a higher-end price, figuring "what the heck?" - they may sell there! If I'm the only game in town, then they have to pay my price or not get them, right? Actually, my big fear is that it will turn out that my asking price is a bargain and I could have gotten much more for them!

The other REALLY big news is that a friend of mine (hi, Alan!) has asked me if I'd be interested in selling his Magic collection for him for a commission. WOW! He has LOTS of good cards, which would 1) bring in a lot of money, and 2) attract a lot of traffic to my store. What I'd like to do is give him a fair price and buy the collection from him outright, then I wouldn't have to keep such meticulous notes on what sells, etc. as I do my Dad's audiobook sales...but I don't know if I've got enough cash to make him a decent offer. We'll see.

Well, I'm off to add more cards from "Lot 2" so that I can get on to Lot 1. Speaking of which - it arrived on Monday. Almost all common cards, I'm afraid, which will make it difficult to turn a profit on the set. SIGH. Perhaps I am not meant to add stock to my store by buying lots off eBay. :-(