‘Boardgame Bonnie’ and the art of selling old-school cool

Boardgame Bonnie Hertzog buys and sells vintage board games online in her one-room apartment in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

EVERETT – Although Bonnie Hertzog, also known as “Board Game Bonnie,” crams more than 300 board games into a one-room apartment, she actually doesn’t play board games.

“I feel like a cheat,” said Hertzog. “I’m not really a board game player. So it’s very ironic that I’m board game Bonnie. ”

The 41-year-old says she’s a bad loser and never wins. But Hertzog is adept at finding decades-old games to resell online. Everett resident visits a few local thrift stores about once a week in search of treasure.

Hertzog typically spends $ 3 to $ 7 on old copies of Clue, Yahtzee, Risk, or Connect Four and then sells them on Etsy for $ 12 to $ 25. She bases her prices on what each game was sold for on eBay.

Business for Hertzog is going well. She sells around five to seven vintage games a week. One of Hertzog’s bestsellers is the 1961 edition of “Monopoly”. She has sold seven copies of this version and they always go fast. Another hot seller: old UN copies.

“They’re flying off my shelf,” she said. “I cannot keep a UNO card game from 1979 in stock even if it is in poor condition.”

Why would anyone want a 40 year old UN kit when you can get a brand new one in virtually every convenience store and supermarket in the country? Hertzog says it’s nostalgia. Many of their customers are adults who just want to act out the version of “Boggle” or “Stratego” from their childhood. And Hertzog is ready to invest the time and effort to find them.

“It’s a decent part-time job,” says Hertzog, who performs hearing tests full-time in an ENT clinic.

?? Board game Bonnie ??  Hertzog buys and sells vintage board games online from their one-room apartment in Everett.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Boardgame Bonnie Hertzog buys and sells vintage board games online in her one-room apartment in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Years before Hertzog got into the vintage game business, Hertzog’s online store mainly stocked custom versions of “Guess Who?” The game consists of two players who take turns asking yes or no questions to determine the other’s cartoon character. Hertzog converts store-bought copies of the game into custom creations by swapping the drawings for photos of real people.

Customers send 24 photos to Hertzog to be resized, printed and included in the game. There’s a lot of cutting and gluing, said Hertzog. The entire process takes about four hours per game. But the result is a personalized, unique game like no other.

Hertzog began making custom copies of “Guess Who?” 2017 as a gift for friends and family. She said it was “a fun way to share a game I grew up with in a new way”.

As a surprise, Hertzog’s husband opened the Etsy shop for her.

“He feels that I’m very creative and he had the feeling that this would be a creative outlet for me,” said Hertzog.

This is how “Boardgame Bonnie” was born. Since 2017, Hertzog has sold more than 300 personalized copies of “Guess Who?”. People as far away as Dubai, Australia, Thailand and France. Your busiest season is always around Christmas. She gets so many jobs that she takes December off so that she can devote herself entirely to her home business.

Hertzog believes there will always be a market for personalized “Guess Who?”. However, she fears that once the pandemic has subsided, demand for old games will fade. Hertzog has always sold vintage board games to replenish their online inventory. But she didn’t make it a priority until sales skyrocketed in the winter of 2020, she said.

?? Board game Bonnie ??  Hertzog buys and sells vintage board games online from their one-room apartment in Everett.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Boardgame Bonnie Hertzog buys and sells vintage board games online in her one-room apartment in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

According to Hertzog, the demand for vintage games has seen a boom over the past year. She believes that due to COVID-19, people are spending more time at home and getting bored. She’s also noticed a surge in games for sale in thrift stores lately, possibly due to people clearing out their belongings from being stuck at home all day.

So the pandemic led to an excess of demand and inventory that Hertzog wanted to use.

“I go to a thrift store, no one is screaming to buy those 50-year-old games,” she said, believing that other customers there were more inclined to buy newer games. They are particularly drawn to games based on classic films and television such as “The A-Team” and “Police Academy”, or the obscure “Police Surgeon”, a Canadian medical drama from the 1970s.

One of her favorite finds in 1972 was an edition of “Flottenmanöver”, the German-language version of “Battleship”. She also found a copy of “Scrabble” in Russian.

Herzog buys her games out of a hunch and only researches the market price after buying them. So she was surprised to find that her biggest payday was getting a copy of Smess – The Ninny’s Chess. Hertzog got it for a few dollars and later found it online for $ 80.

As Hertzog’s inventory continues to grow, she struggles to find room for all of that. A few months ago she installed two 3 meter long shelves and they are already full to the brim with games.

“At one point my mother said, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t buy until you’ve cleared out a shelf,'” said Hertzog. “But I can’t because I go into a store and see a new game that I’ve never seen before, and I’m not going to buy it because I don’t have the space.”

Eric Schucht: 425-339-3477; [email protected]; Twitter: @EricSchucht

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Boardgame Bonnie Hertzog buys and sells vintage board games online in her one-room apartment in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Boardgame Bonnie Hertzog buys and sells vintage board games online in her one-room apartment in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Boardgame Bonnie Hertzog buys and sells vintage board games online in her one-room apartment in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

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