Linda Vo was a sales rep by day, but in August 2020 she quit her job to take her Pokémon cardselling side hustle full time, netting recurring five-figure months, including $65,000 revenue for September.
Vo is running her business from her spare room in Sydney’s south-west and has grown Game Guys to be a full-time business, employing three remote employees.
She aspires to hit turnover of $100,000 per month by early 2022.
Also read: 10 reasons to invest in rare Pokemon cards
Vo is part of a growing trend of people buying and selling Pokémon for big profits during the global pandemic. Traditionally relying on bricks-and-mortar stores or in-person events, sellers have been able to transition to online sales fairly seamlessly.
Rise of card collecting
Like the surge in other rare collectibles, it’s thought part of the reason for demand is an increase in disposable income and idle time due to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
The feeling of isolation might also explain the rise - trading and collecting cards provides opportunities to bond and form connections with other traders and collectors.
Vo's role in sales wasn't quelling her desire to run her own business, and the pandemic lockdowns seemed like a great time to jump in.
The move seems to have paid off with the business achieving strong results. September's $65,000 revenue coincided with the Pokémon 25th Anniversary Celebrations releases.
Is it just a fad?
Like any collectible, there’s no guarantee Pokémon cards will hold their value - just look at the '90s fad of collecting Beanie Babies that saw one US family spend $100k only to end up stuck with a worthless collection. The mania could definitely fade.
There are other factors to consider when valuing a particular card, such as its condition and its rarity.
Vo said she would have cleared another $14,000 in September if she had been granted access to stock of the Pokémon Premium Collection box - RRP $240 - but the stock wasn’t available.
“I had 60 people on the wait list but was only allocated a small portion ... those boxes have doubled or even tripled in value.”
The downside for sellers and collectors can be when cards that seem highly valuable are reprinted, or if a newer version of a card comes out. That's when up to 80 per cent of the value can plummet.
Live trackers like Pokémon Prices chart the ups and downs like stocks. At time of publication the highest-gaining card - a Raichu Expedition Base Set - realised a 183.89 per cent gain for $12.50, while the biggest loss was the Darkrai LV.X Great Encounters, down 78.23 per cent for $9.57.
Tips for getting started
We asked Vo for her top tips that helped her turn an eBay side hustle into a full eCommerce brand that is increasing revenue by around $10,000 month-on-month. Here's what she told Yahoo Finance.
Find a good supplier and have multiple suppliers. Pokemon is so hot right now, the problem is we don’t have enough stock, so have other types of products as well.
Get a bookkeeper from the start and know your numbers (that’s what I didn’t do and I’m paying the consequences now).
Don’t overstock on items too early, Pokemon is a saturated market, that’s why you need to be unique in your approach. Do things the bigger stores don’t do. I’m nimble and can operate discounts and last-minute giveaways.
Build a community and foster trust, using influencers and content creators who really love the brand. We look after them.
Go above and beyond for your customer. We communicate regularly and respond late at night and on weekends. We are available for our customers.
I learnt by networking with other entrepreneurs early on through LinkedIn groups and I also have a great team behind me. My remote team is phenomenal. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
You have to do your research: Youtube, Instagram and Reddit threads.