How to make the most out of your unwanted tabletop games – Ask The Bellhop

Last week I talked about how to decide which games in your collection you should get rid of. This week I’m looking at the next step of actually getting rid of those games. Where to sell your board games and RPGs, how to determine the right price, alternatives to selling, like trading, and more.

Tabletop Bellhop patron Joho Rutilia asks:

“I think this situation comes up in every gamer’s life: the boardgame shelf is full and the significant other starts to hint that you can make space on the shelf by selling some of the hard collected games. How do you go choosing the games to let go? Is it the time since last time on the table or the overall time on the table? Should I still spare the gem that gets played too seldom? How about games with a personal bond or a signed game from the designer? Where do you sell your used (or even shrink-wrapped) game? Friendly local game store? eBay? Facebook? Other places? How do you decide the correct price for the game? What if it is a collector’s item? How do you find these things out? Any hints on the topic are welcome as I am facing this very problem at the moment.”

Deciding which games to keep and which to sell, trade or donate

Donating unwanted board games to a local charity auction.Today’s topic is actually a follow up to last week’s article where I talked about the first half of Joho’s question. 

Last week I talked all about curating your game collection and included a number of suggestions regarding how to decide which of your games to get rid of. I talked about things like Jones’ Theory, space concerns, lack of support and more. 

If you are still at the stage where you are trying to decide what you should be getting rid of please check out my When it comes time to purge, how do you decide what game to remove from your game collection? article.

Once you’ve figured out what you want to get rid of, read on to learn about getting the most out of those unwanted games. I’m going to start off with a focus on getting the most from your unwanted games by finding a place to sell them, setting prices, etc. After that, I will be getting into some options other than selling, like trading or donating the games that you no longer want. 

Where are the best places to sell tabletop games?

For this article, I brought in an expert on selling collectables and geeky items like games, my wife Deanna. At one time she owned a small business based around selling retro toys and collectables online and at local pop culture conventions. Here are the places she most recommends for selling items like games.

Listing board games for sale on eBay.eBayThis online marketplace is probably the most well-known place for people to go shopping for hard to find, used and out of print items. eBay can be your best choice when you have something you want to get rid of that you know is rare. It is not usually a good place for selling in-print, new and sealed items or even used in-print items. 

AmazonFor many years now Amazon has allowed third-party sellers to sell items on their store. Similar to eBay, Amazon is usually best used as a place to sell hard to find, collectable and/or out of print items. For new items, you probably won’t be able to compete with Amazon’s already low prices and here we are trying to maximize the value you get for those unwanted games. 

Board Game Geek: The best thing about selling on BGG is that you are selling games to gamers. The people on BGG know what games are worth and are willing to pay a premium for out of print or rare games. The bad thing about BGG is that most of the people are very picky in regards to the condition of the games they are buying. 

The main concern with these three online sites is that you have a lot more to worry about than just passing the game off and collecting some money. You need to worry about shipping costs, packaging what you are selling, insurance, potential customs paperwork and fees, missing or damaged parcels and so on. This alone may be enough to turn anyone off from selling their games through these sites. The amount of time and hassle should be considered before choosing any of the above. 

One of the most important things that you need to do on your end if you are selling on one of these three sites is to make sure you are very clear about the condition of the item you are offering. Consider the fact that many gamers are also collectors and take the condition of the games they purchase very seriously. You don’t want to end up in a dispute with a buyer due to the fact that they aren’t happy with the condition of your game once it shows up. 

To avoid this hassle of shipping and selling something sight unseen consider a more local venue for your game sales:

Using Kijiji or Craigslist to sell old tabletop games.Local Classified Ads – Here in Canada we have Kijiji whereas in the US Craigslist is the most popular of these online classified ads. These can be a great place to both list your items for sale and to find people looking to buy games. One trick that we have learned over the years is that you tend to get a lot more attention on your listings if you share multiple items at once. The disadvantage of these sites is that they can be very hit or miss. 

Facebook Groups – Buy and sell groups on Facebook are extremely popular and very active. Just here in Windsor, we have two different, large, groups specifically aimed at selling geeky items and games. These groups can be excellent because of their focus. You can usually find a group local to your area in whatever niche you are looking to sell to. Similar to local classified ads, we have found that listing multiple items at once seems to work better than selling individual items.

In addition to local groups, there are a number of nationwide and worldwide board game buy and sell groups on Facebook. Once you get into these groups you now have to worry about shipping, customs, packaging, etc. Personally, I suggest trying to get rid of your games locally first and then if they don’t sell you can consider listing them in a broader group.

The Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) – Being able to sell your games at a local game store can be a great option if your store supports it. Some stores offer a buy-back program, while others may offer to sell the games for you on consignment. The great part about selling to a local store is that you support the store and your games stay in the local community. One trick with selling to a store is to remember to ask if you can get store credit. Stores are often willing to offer more in credit than they would in cash.

Setting the right price when selling games

Now that you have some idea of the places that you can look to sell your games, let’s take some time to talk about setting the right price. You don’t want to price your item so high that no one is interested in it and you don’t want to price it so low that you don’t get much in return for it.

A big part of price-setting is about doing research online and seeing what price other people are selling the same or similar items for. Here are some tips and tricks that we have learned over the years that may not be immediately obvious. 

Amazon is NOT a good place to base your prices on. Third-party sellers on Amazon can set their prices at whatever amount they like and many set their prices extremely high. In addition to this many sellers use software to set the prices and this can lead to falsely inflated pricing. Just because you see an item for sale for X price, doesn’t mean it’s ever sold for that price. 

Using eBay to research prices, how to set fair prices for used games.This is the same problem you will run into on eBay. You could see a hundred listings with a game for sale at $100, but that doesn’t mean that any of those have sold for $100. To find out what price games have actually sold for on eBay you need to dig deeper. The trick here is to go to the sidebar, under “show only” and select “completed items” and “sold items.” By applying this filter you can see the price that games actually sold for over the last sixty days. Note that it can also be worth looking at all completed items and not just sold items, to try to figure out why and see what prices did not work.

Now 60 days isn’t a lot of time and while great for items that sell often and regularly may not give you much information on less common items. There are sites out there that will let you see historic data for more than 60 days, and if you have something sealed/old/truly rare it might be worth looking into. A third party example is Worth Point, or eBay has an in house program called Terapeak available for free for sellers of a certain level. 

Board Game Geek can also be a great place for sussing out the value of your games. The marketplace lists all of the available copies of a game for sale by country, including the condition and the current selling piece. The one problem with this is that there’s no history shown and you can only see what’s currently up for sale and what people are asking now with no indication if things have actually sold at those prices. That’s where SpielBoy (EDIT: Unfortunately this site no longer exists) comes in. This is a board game pricing utility that shows historical pricing data for games listed on the Board Game Geek marketplace.

Selling board games online on the BGG Marketplace.When doing any of this research be sure to consider what condition your game is in and make sure you are looking at items that are in a similar condition. Your very well worn copy of  Dark Tower which is missing all but one flag is not going to be worth the same amount as a pristine copy with all of the pieces.

Unless it’s out of print your used game is not worth the price listed for a new and sealed copy. Do some research. Is the game still in print and can people easily buy a new copy? The availability of a game can greatly affect what price people are willing to pay. 

About half of MSRP is a good rule of thumb for a used game unless it’s out of print or rare. Even with new and sealed games, no one wants to pay full retail so plan to knock at least $5 or $10 off the price.

When setting your price, if you are selling on Kijiji or a Facebook group be sure to put in a little bit of padding because people will want to barter you down. If you are listing multiple items, as recommended above, be ready for people to expect a discount for buying multiple things off of you at once. You can even offer this in advance yourself by listing items by lot as well as individually.

The opposite can be true if you are setting an opening bid for a live auction, or for eBay. It is often worthwhile to take a chance and start at a price that is lower than the minimum you want.

Low prices can entice people to start bidding and hopefully lead to a bidding war between a few interested sellers.  For auction sites setting an item at the going rate usually just results in someone snipping the auction by bidding at the last second, making you no additional money. Realize that this is a chance though, and you do risk getting less than you expected. If there is a real minimum amount you will accept for a game, be sure to set it at that price. 

Spending time researching and pricing board games and RPGs to sell.

When dealing with online sales also remember additional costs to you. Things like packaging and shipping should be considered when setting your price. You also need to consider the “pain in the butt” factor. Selling on eBay may get you the highest resale value, but it can also take up the most time as you go back and forth in emails answering questions, package things up, take them to the post office, etc (not to mention dealing with the occasional non-paying bidder or a missing parcel).

It’s for these reasons that we actually recommend selling locally where possible.

Instead of selling your games consider trading them

Trading your games, instead of selling them, is a great way to curate your collection. It lets you get rid of the games you don’t play and replace them with games you will (hopefully). The other advantage of trading your games is that you will often get more bang for your buck. You may be hard-pressed to get someone to hand over actual money, whereas they may be perfectly willing to trade away a game they are done with for something new to them. 

Using the Trade and Wanted features on Board Game Geek.Board Game Geek has become a great site for trading games with other gamers.  One of the features that BGG offers is to mark any game in your collection as “for Trade” as well as offering the ability to mark any game on the site as “Want in Trade.”  You do this right from the games’ page. 

When looking to get rid of a game you can go to the page then click on the Want in Trade number and get a list of all of the people looking for that game. Similarly if looking for something to trade for you can also filter to see the people getting rid of a specific game. You can also view this information on a person’s profile. What I do here is find someone who has a game I’m looking to get rid of listed as “Want in Trade” then go to their profile and look at what they have listed in “For Trade” and see if there’s anything there I might want. 

Another interesting feature tied to this on BGG is the “Has Parts” and “Wants Parts” flags, which can be a great way to get rid of any components you may have from incomplete games.

Locally, Facebook has been great for trading games with other gamers. There are two local groups, just for the Windsor-Essex area, and that leads me to believe that most cities probably have their own groups. I know there are also Canada wide trade groups and I’m in a board game trade group that actually has people shipping games the world over. These have all of the same benefits and pitfalls as they do when trying to sell games which I’ve already mentioned above. 

Gaming conventions can be a great place to trade games. Every con I’ve ever attended had some form of barter system set up, such as a designated trading room, an all weekend long auction, etc. Cons are also a great place for non-formal trades, being a public place to meet up and make an exchange that you’ve previously arranged through BGG or social media. This is a great way to remove the hassle of shipping.

Locally, once or twice a year I set up trade nights as part of our regular gaming events. At these events, people bring in games to trade and get tokens or chips based on the value of their contribution. All of the items go into a big pool and then people spend their chips to take stuff out of the pool. This method removes the nitty-gritty of the exact price and having to find specific people with specific items to trade with. 

Math Trades, for trading unwanted board games and getting new (to you) games.When you have a large number of people looking to trade games at once it’s also worth considering taking part in a Math Trade.  These are a great way to turn games you no longer want into games you do. In a Math Trade, a group of people use a piece of software to create a list of all the games they want to get rid of. Once that list is created, participants make a list of games they want and which games of theirs they would be willing to trade for them.

Once everyone has their selections in, the Math Trade software does its thing and sets up all of the various trades. These trades are often between a number of different people with the end result being that people only get the games they want.  

When doing any sort of in-person trade be sure to be smart and careful. While I wish everyone you could potentially trade with will be trustworthy, it is worth being cautious. You should always meet and trade in a public place. Many local municipalities and police services actually offer safe spaces specifically for trading and bartering, and it’s worth looking to see if your city offers anything like this.

Please consider donating your unwanted games

It’s not always about money or buying new games. Sometimes you just want to get rid of something with no expectation of getting anything in return and sometimes you want to help out a good cause or those less fortunate than you. Instead of selling or trading away your unwanted games, please consider donating them.

Donating unwanted board games and RPGs to a school or library.

Games can be donated to local schools or libraries. Though when donating to a library I do suggest you actually talk to a librarian and not just use a dropbox. You want to make sure that the library actually wants the game and will put them to good use. 

If you are lucky enough to have a local gaming club or meet up group find out if they have a game library to contribute to. Similarly, a local game store or game cafe may be interested in your unwanted games as something for their customers to play. The great thing about this option is that it keeps the games in the local community. This also means that if you ever regret getting rid of a game there’s a good chance you can still play it. 

Many charity organizations will also be very happy to take your no longer needed games off of your hand. Hostels love to have games for their guests to play, the Ronald McDonald House is always looking for family-weight games, etc. 

Donating your old games to a charity to sell or auction.One thing that we do here in Windsor is an annual Extra Life Charity Auction, where local gamers donate games and other geeky items. The games sold at that event usually end up going to other local gamers and all of the money raised goes to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. 

You could also consider just outright giving your games to other local gamers. If there’s something you no longer enjoy playing but you know someone you’ve played with that loves it, consider passing the game onto that person who will get real joy out of it. 

So there you have a number of suggestions for what you can do with those tabletop games that you are no longer playing. If you find that there’s a game you no longer need in your collection, it’s worth getting rid of that game. You could sell it and get yourself some money to buy more games, games you are more likely to play, or you could just trade your unwanted games for new ones. If you aren’t looking to get something back from the games you cull, consider donating those games to the local community.

What have you done with the games you’ve chosen to get rid of? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

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