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Posted March 22, 2018 by Scott Gerhardt in Topps

The Art of the Deal 2: Non-Douche Edition

So just to clarify, Donald Trump wrote a book called The Art of the Deal.  Donald Trump is a douche.  Okay, title clarified.  I decided to write this after becoming painfully aware that concepts I think are “easy” aren’t as understood by everyone else.

I have often “traded” for a living.  For years when I ran my game store I used to trade people every day.  For me, the concepts behind trading are second nature.  For a lot of people, though, this is far from true.  Now, first you have the people that used to see a card on my buylist (I buy from them) for $5 and then insist I sell them a copy for $5, or worse, the ones who see I’m selling a card for $10 and then insist I pay them $10 for theirs.  These guys drive me absolutely bonkers, but that’s not what I want to cover.  The things I am going to cover tend to be more…subtle, though some of them seem to be more common sense than others.

So I do a lot on the Topps trading apps, especially Huddle, Slam, and Bunt.  I won’t lie – when someone offers a bad trade, I don’t give them 5 stars.  I’m being unfair to the community for me to say “this guy was trying to rip me off or proposed dumb trades….5 stars – you should trade with them too” if it’s not true.  How many stars I give a trade depends on how bad it is.  Also, am I in a good mood or not.  Given the latter, I don’t really have a set scale, but there are some things that everyone should think about when trading with someone.

  1. If you are going to someone and you need something, be prepared to pay for it and don’t expect to just get an even-across trade.  I will often get trades which work somewhat like “dupes for needs” trades (one where you give them something they need and you get something you need and they have duplicates of), except the card they are giving me isn’t a need – it’s another dupe.  Why?  What’s in it for me?  Now, occasionally quantity will dictate me making that trade.  If they want something I have 7 of and they are going to give me something I have 2 of, values being approximately even, I’ll do the trade though I don’t usually love it.  At least in this case it is getting rid of some dead inventory (the 7th card in that stack) and putting it on something more likely to move faster.  But when I can find no actual advancement for me in the trade, I will decline it.  Advancement can be one of several things.  It might be getting rid of a card from a team I don’t care about for one I do (Go Cowboys!).  It might be the aforementioned quantity equalization.  Dupes-for-needs is a common one.  Sometimes it’s just straight value – I am gaining overall collection value on the trade.  This is usually because they really want something and are willing to “overpay” for it.  We all do this occasionally, including me.
  2. Don’t beg.  It’s tacky and viewed poorly.  There are prize wheels for most of the Topps apps now that give you free cards, often ones collectors do need, so start like the rest of us and use that, or buy packs.
  3. If you advertise you’re looking for a trade by certain parameters, and someone sends you a trade with those parameters, you should do one of two things:  accept it, or explain why you’re not going to.  Exceptions to rules happen.  I was doing some “dupes-for-needs” trading today when I somehow ended up with an extra Dak Prescott relic card.  Now, he’s the QB for the Cowboys and one of the players I trade heavily for.  Even though it’s a dupe, it will have additional value for me above and beyond the normal “dupes-for-needs”.  So when someone sent me a trade with him going away to that extent, I explained why this was “the exception” to the rule.  Try to not put yourself in situations where this happens often because it will make you seem flaky, but it will happen from time to time.
  4. Try to understand value somewhat.  Proposing trades where you are getting a very lopsided amount of value is a quick way to get blocked, whether you mean it or not.  Now, value comes from a variety of different places, but I am going to focus specifically on the Topps Apps for this.  Basically, there are a few factors that go into how “expensive” a card is.  Different traders will put these in different orders, but in my opinion, a general rule is:
    1. Total Card Count – Card Count is king on these apps.  I would mostly put the categories as “more than 10k or unlimited”, “2k-10k”, “1k-2k”, “500-999”, “250-499”, “100-249”, “50-99”, “less”.  Once you get into less, the exact card count might matter a lot, especially when you get into single digits.  The different between a /90 and a /95 isn’t felt much in the market, but the different between a /1 and a /5 is absolutely enormous.
    2. How it is obtained.  There are about 5 categories: prize wheel/freebie, coin packs, diamond packs, contest, and awards.  The last two usually require some form of work, and thus have the highest value.  Diamond packs require an actual real currency spend, so they are worth more as well, with how much more often being based on how much the actual pack is.  Coin packs and freebie cards have the lowest value, though that doesn’t make them necessarily worthless.
    3. Presence of a relic and/or signature element.  Sigs and relics with the same card count as a “base” cards will be worth more – they are seen as cooler, and that’s just how it is.
    4. Is it part of a current chase set?  Chase sets for awards give the cards in the chase additional value until the award is released, when the cards often tank in value, though often players may not be willing to break up sets, even after an award is out.
    5. Player(s)/personality desirability.   More prestigious players are worth more because of simple supply and demand.  Sorry, bad ass quarterbacks tend to be more popular than nose tackles.
    6. How old is the card.  The runs both ways.  Some people love older cards, some dislike them.  This is a lower condition, though it is one that may make a card potentially undesirable to some.  Everyone is looking for newer stuff, but not everyone wants older stuff.
    7. Overall look of the card.  I mean, some cards are just ugly.
    8. Personal value.  This is impossible to personally gauge in general.  I value Cowboys more than non-Cowboys.  This is good knowledge to have when trading with me.  Most people have favorites.  Figure out what those favorites are and you can often get better value for cards you otherwise don’t care too much about.
  5. Don’t be a dick.  Being nice goes a long way.
  6. Chase, marathon and set cards.  It’s important to know & understand when there is a “current” marathon or set, this being one where the award for it has not been given out yet.  If you want to trade someone for one of these cards, and the card is a single, take a quick look at their inventory on that set.  If the set it complete, or near complete and it appears they are attempting to complete it, it is frankly very rude to even offer a trade for that card.  The exception would be if you are giving them back at least one other card of that set they NEED, plus something else they want, be it another need from that set or something else they would care about.  In that instance you aren’t setting them back any and giving them a reason to say yes.  That said, they still might not, and don’t be offended if they don’t.  I personally don’t trade out of complete sets, current or older, unless the offer is just too good to pass up.  Especially if its current, if I get an offer for a single, even one that definitely favors me, I will decline and one star you.  Again, the exception (there always is an exception) is if I feel I can get back what I am trading away for a portion of what you’re trading me.  In this case, I’m usually offering the trade, though it has happened its been offered to me.

So this article will continue to evolve as I see more things that should be pointed out.


Point 6 added 5/4/18

Scott Gerhardt

Scott has....thoughts. They can be about this, that, or just about anything. Seldom at a loss for words, you can find his thoughts chronicled here