It happens. The shelves get over burdened. Games start piling up around the house. Your significant other gives you that knowing eyebrow raise. It’s time to sell some games. Today, we’re looking at lessons I learned from selling a game collection.
In the summer of 2018, I did a major cull of my almost 1,500 game and expansion collection. I sold 80 games via the BoardGameGeek GeekAuction process. This ensured that I was getting boardgamer eyes on the collection and facilitated the sale of games through the GeekMarket. The end result was supporting a site I use frequently with their take on each sale.
So what did I learn?
PayPal can be a burden when there is a dispute. Often, PayPal will take the side of the buyer, absent substantive proof, over the seller. You can mitigate this with a SOLID record of your terms of sale, and documentation though.
So, why use PayPal?
Simply put, it makes shipping your games cheaper and easier. The PayPal user puts in their address already. That gives you a validation that the buyer hasn’t fat fingered their address causing concern. Further, the PayPal shipping rates for their shipping tool are SUBSTANTIALLY less than what you would pay at your local ship-it store or even through the USPS location.
Build the Price of Packing into your GAME price
People are savvy about shipping rates. They know what they pay when they go through eBay or from an online store. Instead, you need to account for shipping oddities in the price of your GAME.
In the case of a few games I sold, I had to buy a custom box from Staples. The price wasn’t outrageous, but it was not accounted for in the game. So, I ended up taking a smaller chunk of the profits.
In the end, that’s what this is about…protecting your profits. If you go the route I went, you’ll lose ~6% between PayPal and BoardGameGeek.
That means a game you sell for $20 will only net you $18.80 following the sale assuming you also nail the shipping costs on the nose. In my experience, I was pretty close on shipping costs, but even still managed to lose about 2% overall when you looked at all 80 games I sold.
For a large lot, that can add up!
So, include the additional packing costs as a description in the game. People understand weight and size…not so much distance.
Buy a Postal Scale
They are cheap. They will let you figure out shipping costs to the penny. Don’t estimate or promise estimate shipping rates! As a result, you might end up keeping more of your money! ;)
You Live & Die By Your Terms of Sale
A good sample terms of sale is provided in the BoardGameGeek wiki for geeklist auctions. As a result, I wholeheartedly recommend using it as your starting point!
I would add the following details as well:
- Explain how you will communicate with the apparent successful bidder.
- Explain the terms of non-responsiveness (Ex. If I do not receive payment within 5 business days of notification that the GeekMarket listing has been created, I will contact the next highest bidder)
- Explain when items will ship. In my case, I shipped the Saturday following receipt of confirmed payment.
- Explain your dispute resolution requirements. You will want to be charitable and reasonable here. Things to include might be:
- Under what conditions you’ll accept a return
- Disputes about game quality
- Games damaged in shipping
- How much time a buyer has to verify their item and file a dispute
- How you will communicate and track the dispute (email, GeekMail, etc.)
These are for YOUR protection and should not be ignored. I am not a lawyer, but the clearer you can make your expectations the more informed the buyer will be. Subsequently, this will make your sale go more smoothly.
In the case of disputes…these extra items can be a lifesaver with PayPal, especially if you can demonstrate that the buyer is acting against the terms they agreed to prior to the sale.
80 Games and 1 Person is TOO MUCH
I like to dive into gaming projects head first. With the exception of Sundays this year you’ll be getting a fresh blog post or review every day! That’s a tall order for anyone.
As a result, I felt like I could manage 80 games even if I knew the time investment would be substantial!
It was … and I ended up splitting orders into chunks by pacing out how many games I would list in the marketplace and by letting all buyers know where they stood in the queue. I only lost 1 sale as a result of this to someone who was impatient. I got everything listed and sold in 5 days, so it wasn’t like some massive delay or anything either.
Instead, I would recommend you do MANY auctions. I think the sweet spot is probably around 20 games per auction. That will help people find everything in the auction. People SAY they want big lists…but they’ll rarely get to the games at the end!
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Measure your game boxes and ensure you have quality boxes already at the house or a good source of them readily handy. Have printer ink, paper, and some template messages ready since you may be communicating with LOTS of people about the same thing over and over. Have your scale ready to go as well!
Copying and pasting is far easier than trying to remember everything you said to the last person. I had messages for congratulations, geekmarket listing, geekmarket item terms of sale, and receipt of payment prior to shipping.
It took a few minutes to write, but it saved me a LOT of time.
I also built a spreadsheet to track everything
The sheet included everything I needed to track the process and proved invaluable as I was reviewing everything. I also included the tracking numbers so I could just pull it up and see where everything was at. This was SUPER handy because in a pinch, my copy shortcut didn’t get pressed properly and I gave a person the wrong tracking code! It was quickly identified and fixed.
Don’t Skimp on Packing Materials
Overall, for 80 games, I spent ~$150 on boxes and peanuts.
That was roughly triple what I intended to spend. So, make sure you’re saving up peanuts, newspapers, airbags, and other packing materials WELL before your auction! Also, check out the whole pricing the shipping indirect costs into the price of the game!
YOU are responsible for packing the game. This is particularly true in an era when video has shown that postal workers often throw packages to front door steps. That doesn’t mention the abuse a package sees along the way as it winds its way through rollers, belts, bins, and carts! So, taking the extra $1.00 to ensure a package has proper packing materials is critical.
Tips for Packing
- Wrap the box in a plastic bag. This will ensure that when a game is left on a wet surface, or when something inevitably spills or rains on the package that the game inside won’t suffer. Cost … nothing. Use a grocery bag!
- Newspaper is NOT GOOD PACKING MATERIAL…. Unless, you’re using it to ensure the contents INSIDE the game box are held in place. Then it works pretty well actually. No amount of crinkled up newspaper doesn’t flatten and stay flat after the first drop.
- Use the right sized box. If you have a giant game and the box is too small every ding and dent is going to show on the game box. Don’t tell the seller you’re surprised or that you didn’t want the contents to shift around…packing peanuts are a real thing and everyone knows they exist!
- Stabilize the game on all sides. Top & Bottom. Too often sellers just throw a game in a box and put some newspaper around it. That’s bush league garbage.
- No loose counters. I cannot tell you how many games I’ve received where the counters were dumped out of trays or baggies into the box and then just shipped. First of all…screw you if you’re so lazy you do this to buyers. Secondly, it has caused damage to counters every single time I’ve seen it happen. No loose counters.
Describe the condition of your games well.
You own the game. Describe its condition in some detail. Buyers want to know what they’re buying. The rating systems used by various sites are often insufficient for this task.
Wargames get rated as Good simply because they’re punched. Frankly, I’d almost rather a well cared for punched copy than an unpunched copy. This is doubly true if the seller indicates they used an Oregon Laminations corner rounder.
Simply saying a game is “good” isn’t going to get to that point.
It is far more problematic when sellers don’t disclose things like smells or box condition. I got a copy of Up Front that took 6 months for me to get the smoke smell out of with a mix of potpourri, dryer sheets, and a fan that ran constantly in the guest bedroom. If you smoke now, or have ever smoked, you NEED to disclose this. Frankly, it should be the first thing listed. Nobody wants to have your smokey smelling games stinking up their homes.
The Bottom Line
This is mostly common sense. Be honest. Everything above here is all about making an earnest attempt to sell the game. Take pride in your collection, even as you transfer it to a buyer. Work with them if there’s a significant difference in what they received vs. what you sold.
Be organized, accurate, and reasonable and don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Share other lessons with us in the comments below!