The difference might come down to, yet again, small business versus big company. Roman, as a local resident, resells in order to pay for college. Stubhub, as a big company, resells in order to contribute to its $4 billion value. Most people agree that companies can be too big to be trusted. The question is whether it’s the same for businesses that are too small. “If the overwhelming demand for PS5s are not being meet by the supply that gets put out and there’s money to be made by doing so, then everyone should take the opportunity to do the same,” Roman said. “You see the same thing happening with shoes, sport cards, toys and games. What’s the difference between a scalper who’s selling PS5s for more on the secondary market and StubHub who’s selling tickets for more on the secondary market?” Roman hopes to grow his business out of a passion for the “art of reselling. He studies cultural trends related to video games and sports, paying close attention to the cultural artifacts that become exceptionally desired. Then, he finds these artifacts and sells them. He is something like a pop-culture treasure hunter.
Roman is connected with multiple Facebook groups that track PS5 releases, which are very rare. At any one time, a local Walmart might have as few as six consoles, and they always sell out in seconds. Roman sometimes wakes up early enough to be ready for a 7 a.m. release. He admits that despite his connections, it takes a lot of luck to get each PS5.
Jayson Roman, a Connecticut-based reseller of video game collectibles, is perfectly aware of this relationship. He says that “most of the time (when) I make a deal with someone they seem happy and joyful that they’ve finally been able to get something they always wanted. I feel like Santa.”
Even if resellers did not exist, buying a PS5 would still be next to impossible. Microchip and other supply-chain disruptions have slowed almost every industry, and luxury entertainment is no exception. Resellers may actually be providing a service — using their ingenuity to secure a console for those gamers willing to pay a premium. Otherwise, good luck mashing a “check out” button on a glitchy corporate website. I don’t mean to suggest that resellers are the same as your local farm-to-table restaurant, but the effects of buying from both can have very similar benefits. According to one study in “Sociological Perspectives,” when we know our money is going to socially responsible purposes (i.e., helping a family get by as opposed to a billionaire fattening their wallets), we feel better about the shopping experience.
JT Torres is an English professor at Quinnipiac University.
Ultimately, he is driven by the desire to experience social mobility. “You have to look at these companies as examples that someone like myself can one day hopefully achieve that level,” he said.
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