My personal journey from Collector to Reseller, to somewhere in-between. As many other video game dealers that started out when I did, we were video gamers at heart. I'm certainly no different. It's around 1998-99, I'm admittedly still playing the NES. I remember vaguely, my cousin John called me on my dad's startac. Telling me that he's at a yard sale, and for $100 or more I can get 50 plus NES Games, plus a CIB console. There it is, that's how it all started. I spent the next 5 years collecting over 900 plus NES games. I collected label variances, for I don't know why.
Now by the end of those 5 plus years, some time after 2003. Its during this time my tenure as a gamer that was primarily gaming had waned. Though I may consider that I was still collecting. For all intent my collection had become my inventory. It became more of a passion to acquire and resell. The thrill of it all eventually became my business. In 2006 with the encouragement of my girl friend, now wife. We moved the business away from exclusively online platforms like isaintjohn, to the local markets. To reminisce, its odd to think about it. Mario Party 3 being a $25 game, but that's what I used to sell it for during this time. Games were inexpensive and everywhere. Life was good, sales were strong. With video games becoming my sole source of income. Though I honestly don't recall, I could have been working a part time job to shore up my income from time to time.
Then 2008 came with a sledge hammer. The housing bubble crashed, and so did the disposable income of the local gamers. It was a hard and humbling time. It was a felling of night and day. I was quite high on my horse prior to this time. It was strange to be stridently hated by other small business. As everyone was desperate to get their slice of the market share. Perhaps, for the sake of what I assume, their assumption was I was still doing well. If not that, maybe for actually knowing what games were popular and what were not. Plus their actual value in the local market. I recall one card shop owner coming into the market and threatening my life. As he put it, he knew biker friends in low places. Though in all, nothing came of this. Other then him blaming me for his business falling apart. If a person in their 20's working 16 hours at a hobby business is destroying the business your working 80 hours a week on. They may have less business sense then me.
The next 6 years are not much different. Every week was a struggle, were bills going to get paid or would they have to go onto the credit card. Waiting for the Sussex Flea Market to come. So I could pay off all the debt that accumulated over the year, plus try and pay some of my bills in advance. It was fun, but not glamorous by any means. Though those stress factors are not necessarily limited to struggling entrepreneurs. Then their was the ever growing trend of what I called the want-to-be video game dealer. They primarily would come into the market during November to December. Thinking they were going to get rich. Only to cut both our throats, of really making any money during the holiday rush. Woo Hoo, for a free market at a flea market. The amusing portion of this was always the same. They would not be able to keep momentum through the winter months. Mentally or other wise. Resulting in them selling out to one of the pawn shops or me.
This seasonal trend continued till 2014. The following next few years, the video game reseller trend came in to being. Prices were high, and that's when non gamers started jumping in to take advantage of the money to be made. Namely people that had more endurance with more then two coins to rub together. I recall one week were their was no less then 9 video game vendors at the local market. The positive side of this, long term collectors were taking advantage and pushing their collections out. I was purchasing high profile collections, that were coming out of the wood works. Sometimes this was weekly, often monthly. It was a crazy fun time. Additionally, the pure amount of flea markets I traveled to was amazing. Every other week, I was in a different town or province in general. Life was getting better.
If it wasn't for this game craze bubble. I'm not sure I would have generated the income to put a down payment on our house. It was at the tail end of this bubble that I started to consider to collect a little bit. Unfortunately hard times were around the corner. A return to the old routine collecting was just inventory on hold, became the trend once more between 2016-18.
Not to say I didn't have highlights during those past two decades would be a understatement. I've done and have had several adventures some could only dream of. At this point one of my main adventures was changing. My daughter is now attending school. The days are now filled with a sense of emptiness and loneliness. As I don't have my hardcore toddler to fill my day. What followed was a loss of purpose. Those of you that have been a stay at home parent for several years, will understand. This was the opening to a different chapter in my life.
Through a odd year, with a long string of events that I wont elaborate into. A friend gave me a call, then 7 hours later I had my first T4 income in nearly a decade. I was excited to work a normal job. Though, being honest with myself, being not 100% in control and subject to the needs of a employer was a hard reality to adjust to. I'm very fortunate that my employer, management and coworkers are in fact some of the best I've ever had the chance to work with. It produced multiple freedoms and opportunities out side of work for me and my own business.
The increase in liquid assets was liberating. It allowed me to strive, even when under normal circumstances it would have been feast or famine. This may sound like I'm on a tangent. Though it is not one at all. If anything, any delusion of collecting prior to this was more of inventory on hold. Till the right buyer came. Multiple revenue streams gave me the freedom to be a better spouse, parent, employee, a business owner / operator and a collector.
The culmination of 2020 has been a banner year for me. Its allowed for indiscriminate collecting. My belief is its the best type of collecting, though it usually means completion-ism. Which can be dangerous. As you will end up collecting bad games. The up side is you will acquire the less known but fun games. As today's gaming or collecting can be lead by YouTube trends. One persons favorite wont necessarily be a truly good game for you. Even if everyone else loves it.
Love it or hate it, personally 8bit gaming from the 70's forward has always been the highlight for me. With the help of a few friends during the dark and depressing times. I've gained some appreciation for the Atari 2600. If you didn't realize it, I may have been a NES fan, just a tad right! Oh, yeah I was a 2600 Hater before 2018. I always tried games in line with the likes of Combat and other low end or bad ports of arcade classics. If not for those friends, I wouldn't have discovered that some companies actually did learn how to program for that neutered 6502 aka the 6507. That powered the 2600.
So I've started a collectors journey into the void. The 8 bit abyss as I like to refer to it. Starting in 2018, I focused primarily on NES, where I felt all to familiar and comfortable. Then in 2020 I decided that with business becoming more reliable and stable. Yet still more of a hobby again. I would decide to dedicate a portion of those resources to playing and collecting widely again. Namely but not limited to console games for the Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, colecovsion, SMS, NES and Famicom. I then decided on goals, tangible targets. Due to the sheer number of over 3000 games accross my target consoles. I have aimed for 1000 8bit games for 2020, then 500 for each following year. As collecting the lower end titles will be easy. As each year proceeds, the remaining titles will get more difficult. As either the price or availability will get more scare. Though I'm not limited to only consoles.
If your as much of a fan of 8 bit gaming as me, Your also aware of the plethora of 70', and 80's computer used for gaming. Based on the z80 and 6502 and other custom cpu's. I have a special love for the Atari 800xl for example. Other units in my collection are the Coleco Adam, because why not. Finally I also have but not set up. Ti99/A, Vic20, C64 and I assume there must be something else laying around i've forgot about.