Friday, August 27, 2010

Musings on yesterday's post

Yesterday's post (on a store's side view of speculation) ended up becoming much bigger deal than I ever anticipated. In the last 24 hours I've had more page loads on this blog than ever before in the same period of time. The post also generated more comments than my entire blog up until this point (even if you don't count my comments which were replies to others' comments). My post and the post that inspired it were each linked to begin a thread in the MTGSalvation forums, and (my biggest shock of all), the post was featured on ManaNation's This Week in Magic. I am humbled and honored by the response. At least I can say it got people thinking :-)

I've had some thoughts about the comments left that have been percolating in my mind, and I thought these deserved a post of their own, so I'm jotting them down here. Two posts in two days is quite something for me, so hopefully this comes across as coherently as yesterday's seemed to. So, in no particular order...
  1. It has been recommended that I limit the quantity of a card to some number (likely 8) to help combat the issue of being bought out entirely by a "speculator". This has the added advantage of the fact that if/when someone buys 8 copies of something (especially if that's ALL they buy) I can quickly price-check that item and make sure it's a reasonable market price. This won't 100% solve the situation. I only had 2 copies of Personal Tutor in stock when it went, and only 7 of Pyromancer Ascension - and while I had 19 Polymorphs when they were snatched up, I had less than 8 of any given version, so they still would have flown. Also, someone could come in and make several purchases of 8 each. But, I am looking into whether this can be automated in ProStores or if I will just have to have a posted store policy like the unfortunate store that canceled the alleged speculator's order.
  2. It was recommended that I follow @mtgmetagame and Kelly Reid over @quietspec and folks like that that deal with these issues, so that I can hopefully be ahead of the game and catch these card bumps as they happen (or before) and not have the problem. I actually do already follow these folks (nice guys and savvy in the biz), but it doesn't always help. Sometimes it's my own darned fault (really, I seriously don't know what the heck was wrong with me on the Pyromancer Ascension card - that was just dumb!) but sometimes its out of my hands. Kelly Reid tweeted his recommendation on Polymorph approximately 20 minutes before every copy I owned was bought out at $0.75 each. This all happened after midnight, when I was sound asleep. Ditto when Kozilek was spoiled on DailyMTG and the price of Eye of Ugin skyrocketed. I awoke to an email showing that every copy I had was sold to one buyer. So, I do what I can, but I am only one man. I have to sleep sometimes!
  3. It's been recommended that I keep my inventory active even when I'm out of stock. It's actually easy to do this, and I may have to ultimately go this route - but there are reasons I have not done so before. This topic I feel is deserving of its own post (because it's full of all sorts of convoluted Don-think) so I won't elaborate here. Suffice to say I probably will have to do this, but I'm gonna need the community's help in ironing out some wrinkles (you all as a whole are great at helping out and wonderfully creative at problem-solving).
  4. I want to apologize for my use of the phrase "greedy bastard" in my post. I think I did a pretty good job overall of not coming across as nasty and spiteful (because, really, I didn't want to start a flame war or anything like that - just wanted to present a side that I felt hadn't been yet), but that one phrase really stands out like a sore thumb. I considered editing the post, but to do so would be disingenuous, and would also make the comments that refer to the phrase make no sense. So, I leave it in, but want to acknowledge that I could have certainly phrased things better.
  5. I have finally come to believe that there really is a place for this Blog out in the MTG Blogosphere. There's blogs on strategy, on flavor, on trading, on just about everything else there is to do with Magic - but I don't know of any (and feel free to direct me to the one(s) I undoubtedly have missed) that discuss what it's like to run an online Magic store. So I want to try to be better about getting posts up that actually have more potential meaning than just "I added cards to inventory today" which is what my Twitter feed is for :-)
  6. Did anyone get the joke in the title of the post? Hint: I meant volume as in sound, not amount of cards.
  7. I am, first and foremost, a Magic player. I am a casual player (a phrase that may make some like @the_stybs cringe) who somehow ended up running an online store as a sideline to make a little extra money for himself and his family. It is not my family's only source of income, mouths do not go unfed if I mess up a pricing issue. For me it's all personal - which is why I wrote the piece I did, to share my feelings from the other side of the shopping cart. I am glad that it was, almost completely, taken in the spirit it was intended.
Okay, enough rambling for now. I have The Great Foil project to get back to (repricing and adding inventory due to a collection of hundreds of foils I recently purchased). I only have the Kamigawa and Time Spiral blocks left to process. Then, due to your vote in my blog poll a few weeks back, it will be time to start getting the hundreds of non-English cards (mostly Chinese, Japanese and Korean) up into inventory - good news for anyone who is a lover of non-English Magic.


KBR said...

Thanks for considering me (and QS) "savvy" :) As someone on both sides of the coin, it's a sticky situation for everyone.

In my mind, however, as a reseller of a variable price asset, you have a responsibility to maintain accurate pricing or lose business to stores that either a) don't mind losing a bit of margin on a buy-out or b) piss off customers when you pull orders.

Mind you, I've always been awed by your customer service and you never cancelled me (though a few times I did feel awful buying you out). As sellers, we are making standing offers to a free market that operates independently of any one person or location's timing or currency.

Simply put, if an online store cannot take the loss of an unadjusted card selling out, they need to redesign their infrastructure. Don, you're one of the fairest guys I've dealt with and someone for whom I have a great deal of respect. How does that attitude sit with you, from a biz perspective?

Don said...

KBR: WOW. It means an awful lot - thank you. I appreciate it very much.