Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Lot 6" just got bigger

Well, not "just" - it got bigger on Monday, actually. What do I mean? I went back to the same guy and bought another 3000+ card lot from him, and I'll just lump it all in with the others for bookkeeping purposes.

Yes, I know I have not yet finished processing the last two 3000+ card lots. What's your point?

Anyway, I have been chugging away, getting cards added both by increasing the number available for cards already in the Store, and by adding entirely new cards into inventory. In some cases I already have a TurboLister file for the card, but I had previously sold out of it, so I don't need to take a new photograph, or write a description, and that's speeding things up immensely.

In other news, there should soon be a, and there will be some pages there that I have in mind with descriptive information on Magic: the Gathering, and I may even start my own little eStore with a shopping cart and the whole nine yards. I'll still keep a presence on eBay, because you can't beat the exposure you get there, but many other places (like Troll and Toad) also have their own websites. That would cut out a lot of the eBay Listing and Final Value Fees, reducing costs, and (hopefully) increasing profit. I will, of course, keep updates noted here.

Who'd have thought back at the end of April, that I would be possibly turning this into a legitimate business endeavor? I was just looking to clear out the last of my Magic cards and sell some comics I no longer wanted...I had no plans to actually become an honest to goodness merchant! But, here I am, racking up positive feedback, making sales, keeping customers happy - and most importantly, enjoying the heck out of it! Yes, sure, it's quite time consuming, but it's kind of fun at the same time. I enjoy "meeting" people from all over the world, I enjoy providing a quality product in a timely fashion. I'm having a blast!

Finally, here's possibly the best feedback I've gotten in a while. A gentleman in Spain (thanks, Paco!) bought a whole bunch of comic books earlier in November. He contacted me prior to ordering, asking if I'd use the USPS flat rate Global Priority Mail envelopes to send them. I'd never investigated these, as my policy since early on (when I had one too many comics get damaged in puffy envelopes) has been that I would only send comics in sturdy cardboard boxes. But, if it's what the customer wants, then it's what the customer gets. These things are pretty cool - only $9.50 to Spain for however much you can stuff into them (as opposed to $10.50 for the GPM sturdy cardboard box with only two comics in it)! So, with permission of Paco, I left out the backing boards I normally have the comics individually packaged with and managed to fit the entire order into two of these envelopes. Nervously I sent them on, not sure if they'd make it safely (they were stuffed rather full!).

Well, not only did they arrive safely, but he's very happy with them! First off, he sent me an email: "Hello, My order arrived last Saturday, and everything was perfect...Everything was as you said, or better, and I couldn't be happier. Thank you very much for everything, it won't be long before you hear again from me, already planning my next order. And I've already left feedback for you, as positive as I could come up with. Thank you very much for everything."

So, of course, I went to eBay to check on the feedback: "Impossible to even imagine a better seller!Excellent!Couldn't be more satisfied!" Wow! Is this guy great, or what? When I die, I want him working on my eulogy!

Well, anyway, that's the latest and greatest from The Sundry. Here's hoping that the holiday season brings many more sales my way...and that I can get enough of this massive influx of inventory up there to be sold!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Lot 5" is here!

It arrived yesterday, actually - a full 15 days after I bought and paid for it. I'm a bit disappointed in the total time. I know the UPS delivery took about a week, and that's out of the seller's hands...but it took a full 8 days to send me my cards? That seems excessive to me.

Anyway, I forgot to take a photo of "Lot 6" all sorted out so you could get an idea what this looks like. But I have sorted out the Lot 5 cards and remembered to take a photo of this one. This is actually a bit more impressive because:

  1. There's more cards overall;

  2. There's more sets represented.

Lot 5 actually included cards from Legends and The Dark, two of the earliest expansion sets. It also included cards from Cold Snap and Time Spiral which are the two most recent expansions. All four of these were not in Lot 6 - and the Cold Snap and Time Spiral cards are the first I've ever had. Also for the first time ever, I have cards from Beatdown, a strange little reprint box set that they did back in 2000. Also included were some cards from Unglued, an expansion set they made full of joke cards, not intended for serious decks (sample card: the Scissors Lizard, an Artifact Creature that prevents Paper Tigers from attacking or blocking; "Nothing beats the lizard's shear power." UGH!). There were also cards from Portal, Portal Second Age and Starter, three beginner sets of which there are not many available on eBay.

The vast majority of these cards are commons, and many are in bad shape and I don't feel I can sell them. But there are some goodies, and I think the lot will pay for itself in rather short order (once I actually get the cards up, that is).

I decided to hold off on processing the Lot 6 common cards that weren't already in the Store until I had the Lot 5 cards to work with as well - I have to decide what's worth selling individually, what works as sets of two or four, and what have to be grouped together and (hopefully) sold as small lots. It's not worth listing a single card at $0.05 when it costs $0.06 to list it in the Store - but if I have 10 copies of that card, then they can all be listed together for that same $0.06, and now it's maybe worth it (of course, if they don't sell right away, and enough months pass getting charged $0.06 each month...).

Well, it's time to get back to some more sorting. My 6-year old son enjoys helping Papa sort these cards - he doesn't read so well yet, but he can tell which are the commons, uncommons and rares in the newer sets since the symbols are color-coded. So he gets to sort those out for me before I then go and alphabetize them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Lot 6" is in!

I got home from my Chemathon planning meeting tonight to discover a package sitting on my doorstep. "Lot 6" is here!

I will post a picture of the cards later, I think, so you can get a feel for what 3000 cards looks like. I've so far sorted them into piles based on their set. It includes cards from every Expansion Set from Fallen Empires through Dissension (which means some cards in sets I've never had before) and from the Core Sets Revised Edition through Ninth Edition. It is, as expected, mostly commons - but there's a fair number of uncommons and the promised ~50 rares. Unfortunately, three cards were damaged in transit (they slipped out from the stack and got folded badly on a corner) and of these two were rares. That was somewhat disappointing. Also disappointing was that in the description the seller stated:

"I normally throw in some Arabian Nights, Legends, Antiquities, and The Dark cards too if I find some when I am sorting through rows."

But there were none from these Sets, so I guess he didn't find any. Ah, well. Still a great set of cards for the price ($68.13 with shipping taken into account - or about 2.2 cents per card).

After I get the cards sorted by rarity, I'll then go through and see which cards I already have up in the Store - because those are the fastest to process. Then I'll see if any used to be in the Store, meaning I already have a photo and a Turbo Lister file already for them. Finally there's all the never-before-owned cards which will need the full treatment - photo, write-up, etc.

The delivery time doesn't bother me too much (remember I bought this Lot on Tuesday last week [Nov. 7 for those keeping track]). When I asked the seller, he said he ships on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Obviously Tuesday night was past his Tuesday shipping time, and Saturday was a Holiday for the fine people of the USPS, so he couldn't ship then either.

"Lot 5" is another matter. I bought that lot last Monday (Nov. 6). Yesterday (Nov. 14) I emailed to ask if they had shipped, and was there a tracking number? Last night I get an email that the cards have been shipped by UPS that day - with an expected delivery date of November 21. So a full two weeks after I pay for these I can expect to get them. No WONDER people are so impressed when the pay for my cards on Sunday and receive them on Wednesday, if this is typical of delivery times on eBay! Ah, well, that gives me time to play with Lot 6 some before they arrive, I guess.

Well, it's far later than I planned to be up tonight, so it's off to sleep....oh but first I have to let you know the really cool news - a gent in Spain (thanks, Juan) bought ~$120 worth of comics today. VERY exciting, especially since it includes all 10 2-issue sets (comprising the entire 20-issue series) of The Crusades. I was really hoping they would all sell to one person, so that the series stayed together - but I was leery of listing all 20 as one item.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Something new to save time

Well, I finally got off my lazy butt today (metaphorically speaking - as I was sitting in front of the computer, I was actually still on my lazy butt) and got something taken care of I'd meant to have done a long time ago.

A lot of my time gets spent answering the "How much would it cost to send me 8 cards to the Czech Republic" style of question, as well as looking up the answer for that very question whenever anyone asks or orders more than a single card. Also, I end up sending many partial refunds to people who blindly accept the shipping that eBay comes up with as correct, and send me way too much money (which always amazes me - if a seller says in EVERY SINGLE LISTING that they combine shipping, why would you NOT wait for an invoice from them before paying?!?!?).

So, anyway, to make things more streamlined I finally came up with my chart of Shipping Charges for Multiple Magic Cards and, to make it even more useful, posted it as a page at my Store. So, not only can I quickly get a shipping amount for making an invoice, but potential buyers can check or themselves without having to email me and wait for a response. I had to modify the Store text at the top of my pages to make the link to this new page more obvious - and I think I'll add a link to it in any future listings as well, in the section where I SAY THAT I COMBINE SHIPPING!

Did I mention that I note that on every single listing? Just checking.

Anywho, that's the big news for today. Four copies of the Chinese Fourth Edition Lightning Bolt that I put up last night sold today at $1 each, so that was good, too.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Chinese Junk?

Okay, I'm going to keep this short because it's late and I'm tired...

The latest Chinese Fourth Edition experiment was a bit of a bust. Of the 28 or so auctions I had up, only 7 sold - meaning I actually lost money for the week, as I had used the Gallery feature, making each listing cost $0.55. Bleck.

So, I have decided I need to reevaluate how to sell the cards. The first step was to list the Chinese Fourth Edition Common cards in the Store instead of at auction (meaning 117 new entries needed to be made). Most of them are offered as sets of 2, but some (the more popular ones) I have up singly.

So that's how I spent my afternoon and evening. Now I have to decide how to sell off the Uncommons and Rares.

One experiment this week - I am auctioning a Complete Common Set of Chinese Fourth Edition cards. Hopefully that will sell very nicely. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Can you say "Lot 6"?

Otherwise titled: "The idiocy continues."

Okay, I just bought another lot of 3000 cards from a guy for $49.99 plus shipping. He says the cards are mostly near mint, and he guarantees 50+ rares in the lot, and says he includes some cards from older sets like Arabian Nights in there as well as the more recent stuff.

And he has a kid on the way and needs to make room. I can empathize.

I also bought two more boxes of Chinese 4th Edition at the same $135 per box as the first one. I'll set aside 5 or 10 packs for sale as unopened and open the rest for a Chinese Magic love fest. I should be able to offer the only Chinese 4th Edition complete common set on eBay by the time I finish. That would be awesome.

Final Magic note: I discovered today that Magic now comes in Russian as well. I did not know this, since I've not bought actual new cards in forever. Now my non-English section is incomplete. I need to get some Russian cards!

Final non-Magic note: tonight's Nucleic Acid Methods test was a mixed bag. Several questions I aced, one or two were iffy, and one I completely had no frakking clue. SIGH.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Okay, so I'm an idiot.

For some reason I will never know (masochist?) I was checking out eBay auctions of mixed lots of Magic cards. I saw an auction ending in under an hour that was for 3000+ cards, and the bidding was only up to $19 or so. What the heck?

So, I investigated. The reserve price was not met yet. Ah, suddenly all became clear. In case you don't know, eBay allows sellers to auction an item with a Reserve Price, a price that they will not sell the item for less than. And this price is not revealed to the bidders. So, a person can bid, and have the high bid, but still not be winning because they didn't bid high enough to meet the Reserve. From what I have seen, Reserve Prices are pretty much universally loathed by eBay buyers. I don't think I would ever use one. And auctions with them tend to not get as many bids.

The item represents a chunk of a large batch of cards the seller bought from a card shop that was going out of business. He bought ~17,000 cards, and wants to sell them off in lots of 3000+ each.

I thought about what I was willing to bid. The shipping would be $20 in and of itself (the seller will use UPS, and this package will be heavy). So, I tried bidding $50. Now I was the high bidder (my bid was $36.01) but the reserve was still not met.

I sent the seller an email. What are the rarities of these cards? 3000+ commons is not such a useful thing, necessarily. No reply. I debate with myself some more. I try bidding $70. Still not met. $80. Still not met. Okay, at this point I gave up. A total of $100 for 3000+ possibly all or mostly common cards...I'm not willing to risk any more than that.

The auctions ends. No further bids. The item does not sell. I go off to eat dinner.

When I come back I have two emails waiting for me. First, a response from the seller: "To be honest, I don't know. Myself and others have been going through these and are still pulling out rares and uncommons. There are a lot of older rares that I wouldn't know that were rares unless I looked every single one up and I don't have that kind of time. It's a gamble. I bought 8 monster boxes from a gaming store that closed down and have no idea of what is exactly in all of the boxes." So, the lot will, most likely, be mostly commons. Remember, though, that in older sets the cards were not color coded for rarity as they are in newer sets, so many Uncommons & Rares may slip through, as he indicated.

The second email was a Second Chance Offer from the seller. He's willing to let me have the item for my "max bid" of $36.01!

Okay, I have to try this. Only $56 for over 3000 cards?!? Even if they're all commons I ought to be able to turn a profit on that!

So, I did it. "Lot 5" as it will be known will hopefully be in my possession before too long.

SIGH. I just don't seem to be happy if I don't have cards to process for this blasted Store. What is WRONG with me?!?!?!??!?!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Happy Birthday to me!

Okay, this is a shameless attempt at getting birthday greetings from around the globe - can you blame me?

But, in addition to being the anniversary of my birth, it was also a very Happy day at eBay. Well, Alan's City of Brass sold for only $18.50 (it had been in the Store at $40), so that was a bit of a disappointment. This week I have Shahrazad up (originally in the Store at $50). We'll see what happens.

But two experiments I tried this week went very well. First off, I auctioned some Complete Common sets from various Expansions. The person who won the Tempest set (for $5.50) then went on to my Store and bought the remaining three Tempest sets I had there at $12.50 apiece - so that was great. And the four Chinese Fourth Edition auctions I had up (Birds of Paradise, Animate Dead and Dark Ritual, plus an unopened booster pack) sold for almost a combined $30. Considering the entire box of unopened packs only cost $144 or so, that's not a bad start. I basically paid $4 per pack, or 27 cents per card for these things. The Birds of Paradise sold for $20.50, the Animate Dead for $2.92 and the Dark Ritual for $1.25 - each a good improvement on the 27 cent investment. And the unopened pack sold for $5.01 - itself not too bad (it might actually come out as a loss if I take fees into account, though, now that I think about it).

Well, anyway, I remain convinced that a profit is to be made on this box. I have 27 Chinese Fourth Edition auctions up this week - each starting at $0.99. Some are for two copies or even four copies of a given common card, as I don't think anyone is likely to bid $0.99 on a single copy of that particular card. We'll see how they go. I have a bid on another box of these things from the same seller I got this one. I may even try to get two more if I can. I think that with a large pool of these to draw from I can easily corner the Chinese Black-bordered 4th Edition card market on eBay!

Oh, and by the way - a Biotech course update for you. I have my second exam in Nucleic Acid Methods this coming Tuesday (that's the class where the first test I was sure I did horribly in). The second (pop) quiz in that class went not so well - 6/10. Ugh! But the first test in Cell Culture went very well - I aced the short answer section and only missed 6 of 54 multiple guess questions. Overall score was 95-96%. Not too shabby!