I've become a mark for Pauper. I love the format and having a tournament next week with some people in my playgroup. My window for getting cards here is small, because if I buy them online I was worried about them shipping in time. So I figured I'd give a local LGS or two a few bucks and go through their commons. I usually buy cards on eBay and get them for below TCG mid prices and free shipping, depending on the card. But why buy online when I can support a local game store and maybe meet new people?
When I first starting playing MTG, it was while I worked in Reno, NV. The local store that we walked into was small but the owner was really friendly and after we talked with him a bit we worked out a deal that the 4-5 of us who played got booster boxes at cost. He even cracked packs and played with us once in a while. I've been to the largest LGS in my area and they price gouge (in my opinion) and are generally unpleasant. I thought to myself there has to be a better environment and maybe I'll find a place to play FNM or other events.
I looked up card stores around me and found two that I had not been to yet. The first one told me they have a ton of bulk commons and I'm free to look through them. They have a Pauper event every Saturday, maybe I can feel the place out and try to make some of them and an FNM now and then. The second place told me they had organized boxes by set that I can look through.
The first place I went to was the closest to me but had so-so reviews online. It was a small store and I was greeted by an employee who was playing Legacy with her friend. I asked about their commons and I was directed towards a corner with about 10 3,000 card boxes. She said they are kinda organized (they weren't) and they have a special going that if I buy 1,000 cards or enough to fill a small box it's $5. I spent about 2 hours going through commons and found lots of cards. I even bought this card because it reminded me of someone on the forum, I'll let you decide who:
And I found this copy of Unholy Strength with the pentagram in the art. I remembered reading about this and thought it would be a nice addition to my collection
After going through about half of their boxes and having a large stack of cards (probably around 800), I walked up to the front desk and she started counting the pile. She looked at me and said, "is it OK if I just charge you the $5 for this? You have about 1,000 cards here." I wasn't going to go through more boxes to get a couple hundred more cards that I probably wasn't going to use and $5 sounded good to me. I picked up a couple of packs of Conspiracy 2 and was on my way. I picked up about 40% of the cards that were on my list so I called this a win.
I drove across the city to the second store and the manager (or the only employee there) was arguing with a teenager about his card prices. He was telling him he should be checking his phone for TCG mid prices because that's what the store uses and basically stop bothering me with questions. I asked if I could look through their bulk and he snapped, "We don't have... bulk. We have commons and uncommons. if you are the guy who called on the phone I tried to explain this to you already. I'll get the set out that you want to look through." I lifted up my list and showed him how many sets were on it. He walked back and brought out one box at a time.
After looking through about 5-6 set boxes I found this much easier to find what I needed.
I found some other cards I thought were interesting and pulled a few, like Sunlance in the picture. I was finding what I needed faster but having to bother him every few minutes to bring out the next box meant I sat waiting for a good portion of the time. I had a stack of about 200 cards at this point, all commons for my Pauper decks. Progress.
The employee walks over and says, "I'm going to ring up what you have so far so you get an idea on what you have." At this point I just figured he would eyeball what I had and give me a price. I was wrong and maybe a little naive to how this works. He spend about 20 minutes looking up cards and walks back over to me. "Dunno what your budget is but you're up to $125 and I'm only halfway through your stack." I was a little surprised he looked up every single common and that it was that much. I had a good portion of what I needed for the decks I'm building and I wasn't going to start over again. So I told him I would take out my needs and put back what I don't need, just stuff I wanted for decks I'll probably never build, only think about.
After I told him this, he balked and said, "Well, I have to pay someone to put all of this back so I'll give it all to you for $150. All those cards add up, man." I had everything organized by set anyway, so I told him to bring the boxes and I'll be happy to put them back. I'm only going to buy what I needed. He wasn't too happy with that, even after I offered to put everything back that I wasn't going to buy.
I went through the cards I absolutely needed and it added up to $65. I was already a few hours in and I figured I'd just buy what I needed and get the rest online. Even when he was checking me out he was lecturing me on card prices and kept repeating "Those cards add up."
I came home and browsed eBay for about 30 minutes. Ordered ever card I needed and only bought from sellers that guarantee arrival by the date I needed. (Saturday 8/3) It was painless. I didn't have to deal with unhappy employees or digging through a thousand cards to maybe get what I needed. I spent about 6 hours going through boxes when I could have just bought them online for a few bucks more.
Overall I'm happy with the first store, it's small but it's close to where I live and the employee was friendly. I won't be back to the second store. It was a learning experience on dealing with different stores and bulk. I was a little surprised they deal with pricing it so differently. After the first store I didn't expect stores to spend 30 minutes pricing a bunch of commons they have in a back room somewhere collecting dust. I took my 11 year old with me to sort through cards. He was on the fence about MTG before that but after spending hours searching for cards for his Pauper Slivers deck (he's playing in the tournament) he's pretty excited and already "borrowing" my other Sliver cards
How does your LGS handle commons and bulk? Comment and let me know if what I found yesterday is common.