It’s about time we write up an article about who we are and why we have this shop called Spicy Bears! We’ll also try to start posting short articles in the future to keep people updated and informed on product releases, stock notices, and generally our thoughts on trading card games and games in general.
To organize my memories of how this all came to be, a timeline is probably the best format. Maybe this exercise is just for us, maybe some of you will find it mildly interesting…
What the heck?! Nineteen ninety two? Wasn’t that 1,000 years ago? Well, yeah, definitely feels that way. My now brother-in-law and I were super into comic book art, him a great penciller and me a very mediocre inker. We’d spend many weekends hitting up Golden Apple Comics, buying just about anything McFarlane was drawing. Always talking about ways we could make a little extra money we found out we could get a reseller permit and an account with Diamond Comic Distributors. Easy enough, we can sell preorders to all our friends and they’d tell their friends and we be rolling in extra bucks…or so we thought. That lasted all of about two years and we still have some inventory today!
We’d bought a few packs of Pokémon over the years before, lot’s of EX era packs, but this was the year my first son, then a 7-year old, got into the game. We were buying Diamond and Pearl checklane packs every time we went to Target, breaking them open and building decks. I don’t think we really knew the rules very well, but we had tons of fun playing each other and his friends every weekend.
After I left Yahoo! I teamed up with my buddy Ben and became serial entrepreneurs. Both of us web veterans at this point we tested a million different internet start ups ideas. We bought overstock and sold on eBay, we helped a friend start a really early version of splitting the cost of something with friends (eDivvy), we launched a custom wheel business…ok, we were unfocused and eclectic! Now both my kids and I were super into playing Pokemon. We’d go to Frank & Son just about every weekend buying singles to add to our decks and battling it out when we got home. This inspired me to test selling Pokémon for the first time. Ben hooked me up with a local distributor buddy of his—I remember buying a few boxes of HeartGold & SoulSilver for like $50 each. I sold single packs on Amazon, after burning through the boxes I realized I was breaking even. Damn, how do people make money selling this?! Lesson learned, margins are so extremely thin unless you’re selling 1,000s of boxes at a time you have to just enjoy the experience because you’re not going to be making much.
My kids and I were still hitting up Frank and Son on the weekends, buying singles, and now booster boxes too! My youngest was doing online school during this time, so was home most days; he started showing interest in business and selling online. Inspired by our love of Pokémon, we connected and built a relationship with one of the vendors at Frank and Son who would give us great cash prices on cases or booster boxes—I think we were paying $80 cash a box then. We’d have little box break parties opening the booster boxes and my son built a little business selling singles on eBay and in online Pokémon communities. When all was said and done, we were probably making in the range of $10 to $20 a booster box, not terrible but not a great return on the time investment selling single cards.
Twee’s Candy, our parent business, had a physical store these years. Yep we briefly had a physical store selling candy, toys and TCG! The name Spicy Bears was derived from the addictive chilli lime gummy bears my wife made and sold. Unfortunately my wife got sick so we had to close the store, but it was a wonderful experience for our entire family. I have great memories of my boys stock items and work the cash register.
This was the year we transitioned to buying from a distributor and selling primarily sealed product. Our box pricing from the distributor was only a couple dollars less but we had the advantage of guaranteed product (this was pre-allocations), buying on credit, and the items shipped to our door. We were mostly selling on eBay and Amazon, but also tried a short-lived monthly subscription mystery box model on SpicyBears.com.
We are still a small operation, a father and a couple sons, doing this because we love Pokémon and trading card games. We love engaging and building relationships with our customers here on SpicyBears.com and the other places we sell. We hope you keep coming back to us and we’d love to her from you too!
Josh, Wes, and Ry