CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Ben Bain was introduced to Pokémon trading cards in Grade 3.
He didn’t have the funds or means to buy his own Pokémon collection, but his best friend gave him a single card.
The trading snowballed from there, and soon Bain had more cards than he needed.
“It spiralled out of control to the point where I had doubles of cards, so I started selling them,” he said. “I would sell other kids bundles of 10 cards for a dollar. Ten cents apiece. I got close to about $50 before they banned Pokémon cards in school.”
Now at 28 years old, Bain still has that entrepreneurial spirit. He is the owner of Geno Games in Charlottetown.
The shop’s walls are lined with classic and new video games. He has thousands upon thousands of trading cards stocked behind glass and in boxes behind the counter.
In the store at 500 Queen St., three young men sit on a couch playing video games for free, the buttons of the controllers clacking under their fingers.
Even though his business is built on nostalgia, Bain said he doesn’t have a single trading card or video game left from his childhood.
“A lot of people have nostalgia for Super Nintendo, people my age especially. I would have traded those for Nintendo 64 games (and) those games for GameCube games,” he said.
Geno Games’ most valuable items
- Pokémon, trading card, reverse foil, Charizard- $300
- Pokémon, trading card, gold star, Latios- $350
- Nintendo Game Boy, game, Amazing Tater- $350
- Magic Trading Card, Sol Ring -$370
Joe Sawler, a P.E.I. YouTuber who streams games live as Gamer Guy Joe, knows all about this trend.
“A lot of gamers are getting older. People who used to be teens grow up and they miss playing the games they used to,” he said. “These people who are no longer kids have the jobs and money and can go back and play the games they might have missed.”
Sawler’s YouTube channel has grown to 7,300 subscribers. When he initially began uploading videos his demographic was a lot younger.
“Now, I am in that 18-30 age group,” Sawler said.
Bain watches the nostalgia trends shift firsthand through his businesses.
Now, the hot ticket items are Nintendo GameCube games and consoles, he said.
“GameCube is really hot right now. Kids who grew up playing GameCube are in college or have a job and disposable income. So, you see a lot of people want these items all at once.”
Selling games for a living isn’t something Bain thought he’d be doing. He studied graphic design at Holland College. When that career didn’t fit, he went to Toronto for work.
When he came home, a family member steered him in a new direction.
“My mom mentioned to me I should flip old video games on Kijiji because I was really good at it.”
Three years later, he still looks forward to helping the people who come through the door at Geno Games, many of whom are looking for something specific, something that’s hard to find.
“It’s like a never-ending treasure hunt.”