“So far, it’s been $100,000 in gross sales since I’ve been in business, which has been just over two years,” says singer/songwriter Lenny Morris of his side gig selling pop-culture memorabilia online. “I basically started by accident, finding a few valuable secondhand vintage items — some Ninja Turtle action figures, for cheap. When I sold them for much more than I paid, I kind of got hooked and began visiting local swap meets every weekend.”
Morris has been self-employed since hanging up his paper In-N-Out Burger hat in early 2011 to play a series of local residencies at restaurants like downtown’s Hard Rock Café.
“Since my first ‘find’ was a toy, my focus was on those types of items. Vintage stuff [such as] Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters.” Later branching out to vinyl records and video games, he says, “On Saturdays and Sundays, there are four swap meets going on at the same time. Lots of potential product to be found.”
“I sold a single Japanese Series 1 Power Rangers Morpher in the original box for $1500. I think I invested about half, winning it in auction a few months prior. I’ve also sold large collections of figures, in the $2000 range. My favorite is when I find an item down at the swap meet for a buck or two and sell it for $300.”
Do sellers ever accuse him of profiteering? “I purchased a Deluxe Talkboy sealed in box, the one from Home Alone 2, from a seller online for $99.99 and then put it right back up for sale at Super Video Games USA [on eBay] for $299.99. He thought this was insulting. I simply explained that, in this business, when it comes to rare items, Economics 101 teaches us that when supply is down, demand goes up.... Talkboys sealed in original boxes are very hard to come by.”
The stay-at-home-dad cares for his 17-month-old son while his wife works.
“He’s been watching me since he was born, packaging items, taping, cutting boxes. He’s at the point now that he’s trying to help me tape the boxes, helps me put in bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is definitely his favorite.”
Morris is also still playing and recording with guitarist Wil Forbis and percussionist Christopher Rubio. “We’ve been planning on releasing a full-band album for a few years, which will hopefully come to fruition soon.” A new single, “By Their Own Desire,” is planned for autumn.