My Expertise: Collecting

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In this day and age, everyone’s got a hobby. Be it a sport, comic books, photography, or whatever. Everyone’s got something they like to do for fun. Mine, along with a lot of you reading this, would be videogames. Now for most of you, you’ll play the games and such, and that’s where you’ll get your enjoyment out of them. I on the other hand, have taken this hobby in a different direction with collecting.

Let me tell you, this collecting bug has been taken to the extreme. 

Part of my way of having fun.

While you people are playing your deathmatches, engrossing RPGs, band simulators, and whatever other genre you’re into, I’m cataloging, organizing, and researching what I want to be the latest addition to my vast and growing collection. It’s like a disease that I love and it costs me pretty much an arm and a leg, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When you get the collecting bug, you can’t stop it. You can try to narrow down the scope of what you want to collect, but let me tell you, it requires immense willpower to do so. Once you’ve got the bug though, you’ll go through hell in high water to do any and everything you can so that the insatiable hunger can continuously be fed. The main two components of collecting though would be technique and networking.

While many of you may be regulars to your local videogame purchasing establishment and occasionally chat them up and all, or you just try to get your game and get the hell out of the place as soon as possible, I’ve boosted myself to the level of legitimate friend of these employees. Going to a store so frequently the entire staff recognizes you and greets you the moment you enter the door, talking to them about real life events and situations, and just generally having a good rapport with them leads to friendship and every collectors dream — first dibs!

Not a picture of MY personal store, but probably an awesome one anyways.

As many of you already know, I have a little haven for adding to my collection called Cash Converters! The best way to describe the place would be an upscale pawn shop. Roughly about three or four years ago, I used to go in about every other day after finding some gems like Star Ocean: The Second Story and ActRaiser. After a few weeks, the staff began to recognize me and knew I was quite the serious collector/customer, and above all, was a friendly guy. Eventually they just started holding some stuff for me, and when I’d come in, ask me if I wanted it. They just started doing this without me even asking them!

This eventually grew to them asking me for my phone number, and giving me a ring whenever anything that may interest me came in. Did they have to do this? No. Did they want to? Yes. Why? Because they recognized my sincerity and true appreciation of how much I love to collect videogames, and how much I appreciate their kind gestures. As I state, they in no way, shape, or form had to do this, but did so out of the kindness of their hearts. In return, I repay them back with some kickass Italian sandwiches, hamburgers, and other goodies here and there, which I don’t have to give them, but I do, because it’s what I feel is the RIGHT thing to do. You could consider this a technique per se, but this is just more the essence of being sociable and taking advantage of networking.

A living legend in terms of contribution to my collection, and a guy I’m proud to call a friend.

If you have doubts on whether or not this works, tell me if two copies of Earthbound, about three Super Mario RPGs, an in box copyright infringement Tetris, all three console versions of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, a couple Chrono Triggers, pretty much close to every valuable/awesome SNES game imaginable, rare limited edition games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker/Ocarina of Time combo pack, a steady supply of in box GBA games, pretty much my entire PlayStation collection including: black label Final Fantasy VII, Castlevania Chronicles, Legend of Mana, Tales of Destiny I and II, etc., god knows how many PS2 games, a Turbografx-16, a Sega Master System, an in box V-Saturn, and countless other items are not of any interest to any of you. This is just a prime example of how networking can lead to various gems for collecting and such.

Can’t ask for anything more than this.

I mean for god’s sake, I didn’t even ask them to do this or anything, but the employees even bought me a box to store stuff that may be of interest for me, and dubbed it the “Jon Lee Box ‘O’ Stuff.” Now if that isn’t awesome, I don’t know what is.

So, enough with that tangent. That’s just one example of my expertise of collecting. What goes in hand with this expertise though, would be the equally if not more important factors of just being a happy, sociable, charismatic guy. Does this make me sound like I’m full of myself? The simple answer, yes. But does it work? Once again, yes. This just comes naturally for me, but for those of you trying to get your foot in the door with your local shop and all, this is a very important technique to take note of. Being happy and nice to people goes a long way in terms of being a collector, as happiness is contagious, and let’s get real here folks, who would rather deal with a drab and angry person, as opposed to a jovial and energetic one? That’s what I thought.

This happy and positive attitude is even conveyed online, particularly with sellers of a certain site some of you may be familiar with, eBay. Not only am I a massive collector of games, I’d say I’m an even bigger fan of “swag” per se. All those pre-order bonuses, or promotional materials given away, anything really promoting a game I’m a fan of, I want it. Up here in Canada, we usually get scammed or screwed out of the “good” stuff, so the only way for me to obtain these things are through eBay. Some people just purchase an item and don’t even try to contact the seller or if they ask a question, they try to keep it as brief as possible. I, on the other hand, always message the seller before making a purchase and usually just inquire about condition or shipping charges and such. Just being very cordial and polite goes a long way, as some sellers are able to tell you’re a serious buyer and that you want to make life easier for everyone involved. Just through my polite and nice messages, I’ve even made some eBay “friends,” where some sellers will actually email me before posting new auctions, asking if I would like promo items or such. Some even make special auctions for me to win, and even discount the items and such. Once again, just being friendly and all, has aided me to no end in terms of allowing my collection to grow. This is yet another example of how even online networking can reap you glorious rewards for the collector in you.

Club Nintendo Gamecube Controller, Super Famicon Classic Controller, and Wii TV Remote.

Examples of things I’ve gotten first dibs on or have been treated special to would be my Kingdom Hearts 2 and Final Fantasy XII standees (which were suppose to be shipped only to confirmed addresses, but was forwarded to a mutual friend in the States then to me), pretty much all of my Club Nintendo Japan items, an E3 Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles press box full of goodies, all of my Harvest Moon farm animal plushies, numerous E3 exclusives, and countless other things as well, including some games.

Still, this collecting obsession I have, it wouldn’t be all fun and games unless I had a method to my madness. Believe it or not, it’s all about strategy and technique when it comes to collecting. It’s about setting price targets and limits to what you want. It’s also about maximizing goods with the least required time and effort put into it.

Let’s use PAX 2009 as an example. Before the first day started, possumwrangeler, GraveRisen, and myself took a look at the floor map of the convention and actually drew out a map of what booths we were going to hit, and in what order, in order to maximize our free swag. We designated a grabber of items, one to run ahead to see if there was actually anything worthwhile, and then one as the duffel bag carrier. Some of our fellow Dtoiders made comments about how they thought they had a fair amount of swag and all, but when they saw mine, they said that the system I was following was insane. Another example of how being just and upbeat and cheerful person helps out in satisfying the collecting bug, would be how I was just chatting up one of the guys demoing Muramasa and just started talking about how we get scammed in Canada for promo items. Well you know what? The guy gave me his business card, told me to email him, and he’d fix me up. So, after the convention I followed up with him, the guy FedEx overnight express shipped me one of those “wall scroll” packs.

Glorious, glorious networking.

Once again, networking essential, because you never know who might have that gem you’re looking for. Just getting out and socializing with people is something I’m completely comfortable with, and while some of us may shy away from telling people we’re gamers and all, it’s something I embrace, which has led to others knowing that I’m a person they can turn to if they ever want to get rid of their games and such. It’s through this networking that netted me some quite rare games, due to people referring me to Kijiji ads, friends of friends, or yard sales going on.

Using varying techniques and networking, I take advantage of another thing that leads to being able to collect even more games I’m after, flipping. Just having a general knowledge of what games are popular with other people, but are somewhat difficult to obtain for a good price, such as: Ico, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, etc., allow me to purchase these “doubles” to trade away so that I can obtain rare games that other people are willing to part with. The best example of this would be some of the games I’ve traded away through the Trading Forums on the site.

A great way to take advantage of flipping and getting the best bang for your buck.

Another great method of flipping, to save some money since collecting is a VERY expensive hobby of mine, is to keep an eye on trade-in values, since if I can get games that trade-in at high values for extremely cheap, and then take advantage of promotions like getting an addition 50% trade-in value for pre-ordering certain games, purchasing new games and collector’s editions is much easier on the wallet. You will have to have some extra money in order to do this, but an example would be getting 2 copies of Tekken 6 on Xbox 360 for $12.50 each ($25 spent), with an EB Games trade-in value of $37 and getting an addition 50% trade-in credit, I got $110 on in-store credit. As you can see, $25 turned into $110, which was a profit of $85, which you can also look at as pretty much 350% profit. I pretty much look at that as spending $25 to get the BioShock 2 Collector’s Edition. This is a very good way to add to your collection if you have the time and money to invest in research and treasure hunting to take advantage of these deals.

Another technique I utilize is to sometimes go looking for games that are just for show. Now, it may seem extremely selfish and mean, but as a collector, I do get great satisfaction when someone sees my “museum” and gets jealous of me having something that is really rare or something they’ve been looking for forever. Anything shiny or limited fits into this category for me, like the Lunars on PlayStation, any of the RosenQueen limited editions, and my gaggles of swag. It may be hard to relate to, but when you have to have everything on display and all, and people are in awe, I get a great sense of accomplishment.

So, while you guys are gaming and getting lost in your own little worlds, I’m combing over the weekly fliers, going to flea/farmers markets, and scouring eBay for the best deal possible. While you guys are gushing over the latest upcoming titles, I’m going over lists of games and swag that I desperately need to get my hands on. When you and your friends are talking about the latest hit, I’m thinking of ways to complete my Atlus collection. When you’re studying for midterms, I’m heading to Cash Converters to buy 12 SNES games that just came in. When you’re in the Forums talking about random stuff, I’m hunting down requests and electronics to trade. More importantly, when you guys are playing your games, I’m completely focused on my expertise: collecting.

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