Learning the Trade

You might be wondering what I was doing all that time between the visit to Blood Raiders and my last mission. Believe me or not, I was studying. Yes, there are certain skills that still can’t be injected into the brain and can only be learned through experience; skills like trading. I don’t mean Trade skill which gives an ability to place and track more market orders. The number of orders one can place simply increases the number of opportunities to make money, but the amount of money made from each opportunity depends on how, when and where the orders are placed. And this information can’t be found in skillbooks.

My study of trading was not driven by pure curiosity. Let me take a step back to explain. You know the annual Yoiul Festival during which it is customary to give gifts to you friends, relatives and partners? It’s the same among capsuleers, but the social circle is wider and the value of gifts is much higher than what I was used to during my IT career. I was getting presents from the State, from my corp, from the Navy, from CONCORD and from companies and people I had never heard of. Some of them, probably, had never heard of me until somehow my name popped up on their seasonal greetings lists. And, judging by the presents, they didn’t even bother checking if I was a boy or a girl. Take, for example, Frostline Exploration Suit. Obviously, there are different models for men and women, and you know what – they sent me both! I tried the men’s suit on; it looked nice but was out of place in a space station environment. I much prefer the classic pilot outfit (which I don’t wear when I pilot a ship anyway, hehe). Nevertheless, I decided to keep the men’s version of Frostline Suit for planetside outings. It is warm and will certainly be a head-turner in my home city when I visit it next time. But I had no use for the women’s model. And there were other gifts like that: some crazy face augmentations, SKIN licences for ships that I would never fly, and boosters that I had no use for. I decided to sell all that crap.

Men's Frostline Exploration SuitPilot suit

I started The Regional Market app on my datapad and was going to immediately sell my unwanted gifts to the highest bidder. There was a fair number of people interested in the stuff I had, but then I noticed there were a lot of people who were also selling the same things. Naturally, the lowest sell bid was higher than the highest buy bid, but what caught my attention was the difference – it was in tens or even hundreds of thousands kredits! I could sell my stuff immediately but I would lose profit equal to my typical mission reward. I thought I wasn’t that much in a hurry.

Market data on Tristan Chromodynamic Candy SKIN licence

First lesson I learned was that location mattered. Initially, I placed sell orders at my station in Itamo system. Although my asking price was better than that of my competitors, no one actually bought stuff from me. At the same time, the stats showed that things were somewhere bought and sold. Looking through the market orders I discovered that most of them were placed at Caldari Navy Assembly Plant in Jita. Apparently, that place was like a supermarket which attracted a lot of people, and rich people, for that matter, since they couldn’t be bothered to make two jumps to Itamo to save twenty thousand kredits. “Okay, if the mountain will not come to me…” thought I and moved my things to Jita.

My second lesson was about timing. Many gifts were manufactured specifically for the Yoiul Festival and first appeared on the market only a few days ago. When the first vendors placed their sell orders, demand far outstripped supply, and the unique products commanded breathtakingly high prices. But as more and more sellers came to the market, it became saturated and prices were steadily driven down. For example, an average price of Tristan Chromodynamic Candy SKIN licence dropped by an order of magnitude in two weeks since its first appearance. Since I discovered that trend, I always tried to put my sell orders as soon as possible.

Price history of Tristan Chromodynamic Candy SKIN licence

The last lesson, at least for now, was about price-setting. If supply was growing faster than demand, as was the case with Yoiul gifts, the price would steadily go down. Vendors who found that their prices were not the lowest could not expect to sell their products any time soon. They had to lower their prices and hope that a prospective buyer would visit the market during the short period of time when they had the best offer. That period could be measured in seconds if there were enough active vendors who watched the prices and played the game of leapfrog with each other. Obviously, the market favoured early risers or, for that matter, those who didn’t sleep at all. I didn’t have an insomnia and couldn’t monitor the prices 24 hours a day, but I had noticed that there were periods of relative calm when most vendors were either sleeping or were otherwise occupied. Luckily, my circadian rhythm was favourably shifted compared to that of other sellers, and the quiet spells on the market coincided with my periods of activity. It was during such times that I could comfortably stay in the lead for minutes or even hours, and would eventually sell my products.

All these lessons helped me to squeeze maximum profit from the last gift I received. It was a truly royal present, but it also showed a complete disregard for the recipient. The thing was a unique, limited edition booster called ‘Absolute’ Injection Augmentor which, allegedly, was developed by Society of Conscious Thought. The augmentor allowed to counteract the law of diminishing returns for skill injectors. Anyone with more than five million skillpoints would benefit from using that augmentor, but I had less than two million skillpoints and there was no way I could go over five million before 7 January YC 121, the booster use-by date. The only thing I could do was to sell it.

When I looked at the price history of the augmentor my heart skipped a beat. I blinked a few times, carefully counted the number of digits and confirmed that the highest price paid for the augmentor on the first day was mind-boggling 251 million kredits! I came to the party two days later and by that time the price already dropped below 100 million ISK. I immediately placed a sell order in Jita and started monitoring the competitors. Half an hour later my bank balance grew by 67.5 million ISK.

By planetside standards I became filthy rich. I could return to my home city and live the rest of my life in obscene luxury. But I didn’t feel like that. Even if I could ensure my immortality through cloning and brain copy, my new life as a capsuleer was thousand times more interesting, exciting and meaningful than anything I could do down there. Especially now, when I finally had enough money to buy my first frigate.

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