A Word About The Modern Masters Release

As most of you know, last night was The Comic Book Store’s release of the Modern Masters set. Many people were able to get the booster boxes that they wanted. Others were not able to get as much as they wanted, and unfortunately, some people were not able to get any booster boxes at all. We genuinely regret the fact that we were unable to get enough boxes to meet all of the demand, but sadly, as long as Wizards of the Coast continues to release extremely limited products such as Modern Masters, there are always going to be people who will not be able to get their hands on it.

Some of you were unhappy with the way that we ran things and chose to make your opinions known online. This comes with the territory of social media, and believe me when I say that we are in fact very open to constructive criticism and ideas to make our business better. However, this collectible card game release is clearly a hot-button issue in which some emotions are running high, and I feel that we deserve a chance to explain our mindset and counter what I feel are, to understate it, some very unfair sentiments.

We divided the 21 cases we received three ways:

1) Months ago we started a list of the customers who called and asked for reservations.
We had no idea what or how much of it we were getting, but we honored the names on that list, and everyone on it was guaranteed something. More recently, when we had a better idea of how much MM we would be getting, we had to cut off preorders.

2) We saved some product for the release date

In the interest of fairness to more casual players who may not be current on all the DailyMTG news and hadn’t heard about this months ahead of time, we reserved some product to sell on the street date. we had no doubt that there would be a line on release day well before midnight despite the fact that we could not sell it until then. We also knew that there was a good chance that the product would sell out very quickly. Given these unfortunate but nonetheless unavoidable facts, we came up with as fair a system as possible. It was a first-come, first-serve basis. However, instead of making customers stand outside for hours in what turned out to be a very rainy evening, we decided it would be much better to let everyone wait inside and do what we’re all here to do: Play Magic! We worked out a system where everyone was given a ticket based on the order in which they arrived, and could redeem those tickets for up to two boxes as long as they did not leave the premises. I can not overstate the fact that this system was still first-come, first-serve, and functioned in an exactly identical manner to an outdoor line with the only exceptions being that it was a) indoors, and b) allowed us to know the moment that we ran out of booster boxes that could be sold so that we could try to notify as many people as possible and not have them waste a trip.

3) We saved some product to be used for draft tournaments

Modern Masters’ Limited isn’t a format that’s going to be around for very long, so we felt that our customers should have the opportunity to enjoy it while it lasts. We also gave the first spots in the draft pods to people who unfortunately arrived too late to get booster boxes.

Furthermore, all of these details were posted on our Facebook page and gaming group page on the day before release. I understand that not everybody receives our updates in their newsfeeds, or would have even thought to check beforehand, but that fact remains that we tried to reach the maximum amount of people and to be as clear as possible about the rules. And yes, on release day our regular customers who had not preordered were subject to the same rules as people who were visiting the store for the first time. Yesterday, first-come, first-serve meant exactly that. The only “special treatment” that was given was that everyone who waited could do so in relative comfort with a chair to sit in, a table to eat/play on, and a restroom to use instead of baking on hot concrete for 9 – 12 hours and then getting soaked in the rain.

So that’s what we did for our customers. Here’s what we didn’t do:

We didn’t inflate our prices just because the set was limited.

While other stores and online dealers doubled or even tripled their prices, we sold our boxes below MSRP, at approximately the same discount percentage that we offer to anyone who buys an entire booster box instead of packs. Some may call us crazy, but we don’t believe that just because a product is popular upon release means that it must be worth 2-3 times its suggested retail value. This kind of behavior would be considered completely absurd in any other retail market, and frankly shouldn’t be tolerated. Does Game Stop jack up their prices when they only have a couple copies of a game left? Do you have to pay $45 to see a movie on opening night because there’s only three seats left in the theater? Of course not. That’s absolutely ridiculous, and we refuse to take part in it.

We didn’t dump any Modern Masters on Ebay.

That’s right, every last pack we received is going to a real, in-store customer. We didn’t put any online. We didn’t even keep any for ourselves. We play Magic ourselves, and we didn’t get any! The same thing goes for From The Vault, Commander’s Arsenals, Promo Cards, whatever. When products are limited, the customers come first. Not Johnny Ebay over in Arizona, not the Star City buy list, the actual people who come to our store. We’d much rather hook up the guy who comes to FNM every week and the guy who drives 45+ minutes to shop with us than some stranger on the other side of the country.

We didn’t dish all the good stuff out to our buddies.

Like any gaming store worth its salt, we have a great group of core regulars. This is part of what makes Magic and gaming in general so much fun, and why it has gotten so much more popular in recent years. But that said, this isn’t some members-only country club where you have to be part of the inner circle in order to be treated like a decent human being. Yesterday, Magic players from all over the tri-state area came to the store to take part in this release, and we were happy to have them. And hopefully they were happy to have been treated like valuable customers after driving many miles and waiting many hours.

I understand that it sucks when products run out. I understand being disappointed or even pissed when you’re turned away when you really, really wanted something. But as far as I’m concerned, Alex (the store owner) and I bent over backwards yesterday to be as fair and equitable as humanly possible to satisfy the greatest number of people. We both worked a 17+ hour day (as we do so very, very often) to try and make the best out of a less than optimal situation. It was physically and mentally exhausting, but it was also a lot of fun.

We received a lot of kind words and praise, and most people were absolutely awesome. We want to thank all of you who were very patient, understanding, and polite.

But then again, some of you trashed us online. I guess you can’t please all of the people all of the time.


- Lou

One thought on “A Word About The Modern Masters Release

  1. ELD

    If you’re looking for constructive criticism, I have a thought. You do not get to decide what an item is worth to other people. An exchange takes place when your asking price is equal to or lower than what someone else is willing to pay. This requires two parties coming to an agreement, not some arbitrary choice by one party. If you had asked 200-250 on your boxes, you would have been able to satisfy a lot more end users. Instead, you sold your boxes to people who are likely going to turn around and sell them on Ebay or other parties. The people who are willing to trade more for something are the people who want the item more. This notion that you can control the market and consumers is wrong, and has lead to many people being unable to get what they wanted from you. Prices work. Next time, you might consider letting consumers decide for themselves how much they value an item. I would not buy a box at 250, but many people value Modern Masters higher than me and would thank you for being able to get the box at that price. Wizards releases scarce products, and a damn good thing that they do. The only reason people value cards is their scarcity. Either you can let the market decide who gets what based on how much each person values an item, or you can rely on a hacked together notion of arbitrary rules for figuring out who gets what.

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