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Liquidating a gamer estate

Options for efficiently liquidating a large collection of games, typically as part of an estate.
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Preparing a collection for liquidation

Eric Engelmann
United States
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Some gamers have highly organized collections. Most don't.

When estates are liquidated, appraisers will attempt to define them and assess their likely sales value, but also the labor, storage, and time required for liquidation. The easier you make it for a dealer to assess and prep for sale, the more money you can potentially get for your collection.

Here are some factors an appraiser familiar with boardgame sales will use when making a purchase offer:

Some games are easy to sell. If you post a like-new copy of Terraforming Mars on BGG at below the best available price, it will sell in a few days. If you post a like-new Sandworm version of Dune, at below the lowest offered price (perhaps $200), it will almost certainly sell, but it may take a year or more.

Some games are easy to uniquely identify and describe. A shrinkwrap copy of Splendor is easy to identify and doesn't need to be checked for completeness. A worn and dished box labeled "Civil War" can require 20 minutes of labor to prepare for sale, or get returned after sale because it's missing some of its many components. If the collection owner places a note in each open box defining its state (complete, missing XXX, YYY Expansion included, etc.) it will make it easier to sell, and thus more valuable to an estate buyer.

A box of sleeved and boarded S&T Magazines is easily and very compactly stored, inventoried, offered for sale, located, packed, and shipped. Badly dished game boxes with torn corners bleeding parts much less so. BTW, buying magazine sleeves and boards and properly storing your unpunched magazine games is worth the effort. Magazine sized sleeves will cost about $.10 each for 100 sleeves.

Preparing Your Games:
Catalog: an up-to-date BGG collection is a huge help. Make sure you share the collection link along with the instructions (and password!) for your executor. Use for a simple link. If your surviving spouse will liquidate games via BGG's marketplace, you could list EVERYTHING you have in the marketplace and set a VERY high value. Your survivor would then just need to adjust prices to competitive levels when ready to start selling. Be sure to show them how to do that in advance, or give them contact details for a friend who can guide them through a few sales to get started.

Repair: Here are details for box repair. This is easily done on a box-a-day plan. If you are willing to trade a few minutes of your time for a dollar or more (sometimes much more) of increased game value, you should systematically repair most dished and split-cornered boxes.

Trash: Organize and segregate low value games and parts that can't be sold on BGG. These could be donated to a local game group or sold in lots at board game convention auction stores. A bulk estate buyer will probably see them as a labor, transport, and storage burden, and they will likely reduce the quote you get.

Shelving: Label your shelves and indicate locations in your catalog, so that it's easy to find a game when it sells. A veteran gamer can scan multiple book shelves and find Puerto Rico by sight in a few seconds. A non-gamer selling off pieces of your collection will have to spend a lot longer. Try to shelve games so that tops don't collapse over time. One way to do this is to have the entire stack be the same size. Another is to store games on edge instead of flat. Rubber bands can make a mess after a few years. Best to avoid their use in any games you don't regularly play. For games you seldom play, buy a roll of 18" wide food wrap plastic like this: to easily wrap and protect boxes from light wear, insects, and moisture.

Ghoul's list: If you have some advanced notice of your retirement from gaming, you may want to designate some specific games for your gamer friends or clubs. A post-it note with the gamer's name and contact info can be placed on any designated game. You can keep enjoying them while being fairly sure they'll end up in a good home.

RARE stuff: If your collection is blessed with really obscure games, and you have lots of time, be sure to create entries for anything so rare that it has no BGG listing. If yours is the only copy for sale ANYWHERE, at ANY price, why not spend the 10 minutes to add it to the Geek and price it at $999?

to be continued...
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