Seoul Food Meat Co. is a BBQ restaurant with Korean inspired cuisine. The restaurant is located in Charlotte's Southend neighborhood near the Wooden Robot Brewery. Walking into Seoul Food, you may notice televisions playing K-pop (Korean Pop) music videos. While Seoul Food has a full bar and table seating for customers, they also offer karaoke rooms to rent by the hour. There are four different themed karaoke rooms that can hold anywhere from 7 to 30 people. For my birthday this year, Ashley rented the Rock Star room that will hold close to 30 individuals. Charlotte Five published an article that has more specific information about each karaoke room available.
The Rock Star room at Seoul Food contains a karaoke machine with two microphones. The software on the system is Korean based. You can change the language to English (your room server should do this for you). Songs are found via a large code book or by searching the system with a remote control. You can play songs instantly or queue them for later. While not all songs we searched were in the system, there are plenty available to enjoy singing for hours.
The room also contains three televisions where song lyrics are displayed along with various Korean music videos. While the videos did not match up well with songs we selected, they were entertaining and interesting to watch. I liked having multiple televisions because anyone could sing while sitting in their seat or at the stage.
If you are interested in renting a room, I recommend calling to reserve one in advance. Seoul Food does not require a deposit, but they will let your room go if you are late for the scheduled time. Once a room is reserved, you can stay in it as long as you want. I also recommend not inviting more people that the room occupancy. We had about 23 people in the Rock Star room with a maximum occupancy of 27. The room was very crowded with over 20 people. There is a form that must be signed outlining the terms and conditions for renting a karaoke room. One point worth mentioning is that your server will charge a mandatory gratuity on top of the room rental price. When we received the bill for our rental, this policy added $63.00 in additional gratuity to the bill.
Beyond the additional gratuity charge, we had an amazing time at Seoul Food. Everyone in attendance agreed that they would do it again for a birthday or special occasion. Their meat platters and wings were excellent choices and easier to share among the group. Our server did a wonderful job keeping track of separate orders and billing. I recommend the karaoke experience at Seoul Food for anyone interested in singing the night away.
In Magic: The Gathering, Standard format booster boxes contain 36 packs of trading cards. Each pack contains 15 individual cards with one at the rare or mythic rarity. In addition, there is a 1:67 chance to open premium foil versions of cards (changed to 1:45 in Core 2020). Some of the older sets also contain foil lottery cards with unique art. MTG Dawnglare is a website that tracks the average estimated value (EV) of MTG sets and individual packs. The set EV on MTG Dawnglare is calculated by multiplying a set's current pack EV by 36. In other words, this EV is the average expected value found in a booster box. EV can change over time as individual cards in a set move up and down in price. Booster box market prices can differ from set EV. This is because other factors, such as supply and demand, can impact booster box market pricing in addition to set EV.
Current Prices for Rotated Standard Booster Boxes
In this evaluation, I am covering sets that rotated out of Standard in October 2018. You can download a copy of the data file here. The reason for using rotated Standard sets is because current Standard booster box prices remains fairly constant while they are printed to demand. I am rounding box prices to whole numbers for the sake of easy math. The following graphic shows current market prices for sealed booster boxes of previous Standard sets.
The average sale price for Shadows Over Innistrad and Hour of Devastation is $90.00. Amonket is selling for $95.00. There is a large gap between the prices for these sets and the others shown. Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, and Eldrich Moon are selling for $180.00, $140.00, and $165.00 respectively. What I find interesting is the market price of a sealed booster box compared to the value of its contents. Sealed booster boxes carry a price premium relative to the EV of individual packs. A few reasons why players would pay a premium for out of print booster boxes include drafting, collecting, and investing. To understand if current booster box pricing is warranted, I compared it against the set EV. I used the default set EV values on MTG Dawnglare, which references TCG Player Mid. The following graphic shows these comparisons.
The gold line across the graphic shows the average July booster box prices on Ebay. The blue bars show current set EVs. The biggest takeaway from this graphic is where the gold line is respective to the top of each set's blue bar. Compared to other sets, Aether Revolt and Hour of Devastation booster boxes appear underpriced. On the other hand, Kaladesh and Eldrich Moon booster boxes appear overpriced. Since the sample size is small, I would look for other data to support selling Kaladesh booster boxes and buying Aether Revolt booster boxes.
Analyzing Rotated Standard Booster Box Growth and Profitability
When looking at current prices, all of the rotated Standard booster boxes have appreciated in value over time. Shadows Over Innistrad, Amonkhet, and Hour of Devastation have increased the least. They also have the lowest values among set EVs. The monthly average growth of the top three booster boxes far outpace the bottom three. Since their release, the average growth per month of the top three booster boxes has been $2.00 or higher. This equates to an estimated 12 month return of at least 30.0%. However, the growth of these boxes most likely occurred toward the end of their print cycle through today. If you assume booster boxes remained at $80.00 while in print for the first 12 months of availability, then the average growth per month would be higher than $2.00.
While 30.0% is a strong return, it is not necessary the net return on booster boxes. Since booster boxes are physical assets, you must mail or personally deliver them to a potential buyer. If you use an online platform to sell your booster boxes, a transaction fee is typically charged. In this evaluation, I used the USPS Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box as the shipping method of choice. This box, with a commercial price of $12.80, can ship one booster box anywhere in the United States. You may find cheaper rates through other delivery methods or utilizing a business account. I also calculated the fees for selling on Ebay as 12.9%. This includes the 10% Ebay fee and 2.9% Paypal fee. I purposely omitted the $0.29 additional transaction fee on Paypal for simplicity. When adding together the shipping costs and fees, you can expect a minimum transaction cost of $24.41 on a $90.00 booster box through Ebay. Unfortunately, these costs equate to 27.1% of the sale price. This high percentage means that selling one booster box of Shadows Over Innistrad, Amonkhet, or Hour of Devastation is unprofitable on Ebay. You would need to sell these booster boxes locally, through other Internet platforms, or as a bundle with discounted shipping to earn a profit.
I calculated the breakeven amounts for selling booster boxes on Ebay. In order to earn a profit of 0.0% on an $80.00 booster box, you will need to sell it for $106.54. This is essentially a 33.2% return on investment. If you paid $90.00 for a booster box, you will need to sell it for $118.03 to net 0.0% profit. The return on investment at 0.0% on a $90.00 box is 31.1%. It is clear in these calculations that shipping prices are detrimental to profit margins. Every $1.00 saved on shipping costs for a $90.00 sale price will lower your transaction costs by about 1.1%. For example, a $3.20 (20%) savings on shipping results in a total transaction cost of 23.6%.
However, selling one booster box at a higher price point can yield higher returns. Shipping is arguably a fixed cost since each Standard booster box has the same size and weight. The net return on selling a Kaladesh booster box on Ebay at $180.00 is 80.0%. Eldrich Moon's net return is 63.6% followed by Aether Revolt's net return at 36.4%. Assuming you sold one of each $80.00 rotated Standard set booster box on Ebay to different buyers, you would have earned a net profit of $105.16 or 21.9%.
Risk and Opportunity Cost
Investing in booster boxes is not without risk. Supply and demand for these collectible products have an affect on prices. In addition, booster boxes are physical assets that must be stored and protected. Any accidental damage to a sealed booster box can negatively impact its value. Other investment vehicles can be purchased digitally to avoid additional risk from physically holding products. However, the riskiness of holding booster boxes can pay off with potential double digit returns. Investment vehicles with little risk, such as Certificate of Deposits and Money Market accounts, would produce lower returns than the evaluated booster boxes in totality.
Current CD rates on Bankrate show the annual percent yield (APY) offered at one and two years fall between 2.50% and 2.70%. This article on the balance highlights the returns of other risky investment options over 10, 5, and 3-year time periods. I want to draw attention to the 3 year returns since the average hold period in the evaluation was 2 years and 8 months. You can see that the only investment vehicle with similar returns to the overall rotated Standard booster boxes was the S&P 500 Index. While I do not know the true risk level for MTG booster box investing, I would compare it to riskiness of purchasing stocks. My takeaway is that the evaluated booster boxes outperformed other investment vehicles with less riskiness.
Before investing in any type of product, I always think about my level of risk tolerance. Booster boxes do not seem to be a short-term investment (under a year). While they appear relatively easy to liquidate, the transaction fees can be steep. However, the returns calculated in this analysis match closest (after estimated fees) to the S&P 500 Index during a similar time period. Due to the overall results of this evaluation, I believe MTG booster boxes can be a profitable investment vehicle when held in a diverse portfolio.
*The information in this article is of my own knowledge and opinion. It is meant for informational purposes only. I am not a registered financial professional or trying to act as one.*
Yume Sushi Ramen & Bar is located in Charlotte's South End neighborhood at 1508 S Mint Street. The restaurant location opened in August, 2018. Yume offers Japanese style ramen, sushi, and street food options. You can visit Yume for lunch and dinner, except on Tuesdays. There is a full service bar, table seating, and additional seats at the sushi counter. Specials are available on drinks and food during happy hour and late night dining.
Ashley and I went to Yume to try their sushi rolls and Japanese street food options. During a previous trip to Japan, one of our favorite street foods was takoyaki. The takoyaki dish at Yume was equally great to what you can find in Osaka, Japan. In fact, I believe Yume uses better ingredients than what we ate in Osaka. Next time I visit Yume, I would like to try the karaage and saba tatsuta-age. Outside of street food, there are other appetizers I have enjoyed at Yume. I recommend trying the gyoza, Yume tuna tower, and tempura shrimp.
When ordering sushi, we try to choose more traditional styled rolls. The Sakura roll (front in photo) with salmon and tuna stood out to us as a winner. I particularly enjoy tobiko on top of my rolls as well. We tried the Mystery roll (top left in photo) which was a combination of eel, tuna, and cream cheese. My personal favorite was the Hoshi roll featuring soft shell crab, eel, crab salad, and avocado (middle of photo). This was the best soft shell crab roll I have eaten in Charlotte, NC. I recommend trying Yume for sushi if you have not done so already.
Our dining experience covered only a small sampling of the food options at Yume. I have not had an opportunity to try their ramen, katsu don, or Japanese curry dishes. Ashley and I are looking forward to trying more dishes while reminiscing about past trips to Japan. If you enjoy multiple varieties of Japanese cuisine, you should give Yume a try.