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

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

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

Bonnie Hertzog of Everett buys and sells decades-old copies of “Monopoly,” “Clue,” ”Yahtzee” and more.

EVERETT — Despite cramming more than 300 board games into a single-bedroom apartment, Bonnie Hertzog, aka “Boardgame Bonnie,” does not, in fact, like to play board games.

“I feel like a fraud,” Hertzog said. “I’m actually not a board game player. And so it is very ironic that I’m Boardgame Bonnie.”

The 41-year-old says she’s a sore loser and never wins. But Hertzog is skilled at finding decades-old games to resell online. About once a week, the Everett resident will hit a few local thrift shops in search of treasure.

Hertzog usually spends around $3 to $7 for old copies of “Clue,” ”Yahtzee,” “Risk” or “Connect Four” to then sell for $12 to $25 on Etsy. She bases her prices on what each game sold for on eBay.

Business for Hertzog is good. She sells about five to seven vintage games a week. One of Hertzog’s best sellers is the 1961 edition of “Monopoly.” She’s sold seven copies of that version, and they always go fast. Another hot seller: old copies of UNO.

“They fly off of my shelf,” she said. “I cannot keep an UNO card game from 1979 in stock, even in poor condition.”

Why would someone want a 40-year-old UNO set when they can buy a brand-new copy at virtually any convenience store and supermarket in the country? Hertzog says it’s nostalgia. A lot of her customers are adults who just want to replay the version of “Boggle” or “Stratego” from their childhood. And Hertzog is willing to put in the time and effort to find them.

“It’s a decent side hustle,” said Hertzog, whose full-time job is conducting hearing tests at an otolaryngology clinic.

Some of the hundreds of boardgames that fill Bonnie Hertzog’s home. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Some of the hundreds of boardgames that fill Bonnie Hertzog’s home. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Years before getting into the vintage game biz, Hertzog’s online storefront mainly carried custom versions of “Guess Who?” The game has two players taking turns asking yes or no questions to determine the other’s selected cartoon character. Hertzog converts store-bought copies of the game into custom creations by swapping out the drawings for photographs of real people.

Customers send 24 photos for Hertzog to resize, print and paste into the game. It’s a lot of cutting and gluing, Hertzog said. The whole process takes about four hours per game. But the result is a personalized, one-of-a-kind game like no other.

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

Hertzog’s husband launched the Etsy shop for her as a surprise.

“He feels like I’m very creative, and he felt like this would be a creative outlet for me,” Hertzog said.

Thus, “Boardgame Bonnie” was born. Since 2017, Hertzog has sold more than 300 personalized copies of “Guess Who?” to people as far away as Dubai, Australia, Thailand and France. Her busiest season is always around Christmas. She gets so many orders that in December she’ll take time off from work so she can devote herself to her home business full-time.

Hertzog thinks there will always be a market for personalized “Guess Who?” However, she is worried that demand for old games will die down once the pandemic subsides. Hertzog has always sold vintage board games as a way to fill out her online inventory. But she didn’t make them a priority until sales began soaring in winter 2020, she said.

Bonnie Hertzog attempts to organize some of the stacks of vintage boardgames she owns. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Bonnie Hertzog attempts to organize some of the stacks of vintage boardgames she owns. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Demand for vintage games has boomed in the past year, according to Hertzog. She believes it’s because people are spending more time at home because of COVID-19 and are bored out of their minds. She’s also noticed lately an increase in the games for sale at thrift stores, possibly due to people cleaning out their stuff due to, again, being stuck at home all day.

So the pandemic led to a surplus — of demand and inventory — that Hertzog was ready to take advantage of.

“I go to a thrift store, nobody’s clamoring to buy those 50-year-old-games,” she said, believing other customers there tend to go for newer games. She especially is drawn to games based on film and TV classics like “The A-Team” and “Police Academy,”or the obscure“Police Surgeon,” a 1970s Canadian medical drama.

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

Herzog buys her games on a hunch, never researching the market price until after purchase. So she was surprised to find that her biggest payday came from scooping up a copy of “Smess — The Ninny’s Chess.” Hertzog got it for a few bucks and later found it selling online for $80.

As Hertzog’s inventory continues to grow, she has struggled to find space for it all. A few months ago she installed two 12-foot-long shelves, and they’re already filled to the brim with games.

“My mom at one point said, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t buy anymore until you’ve cleared off one shelf,’” Hertzog said. “But I can’t do that because I go to a store and I see a new game that I’ve never seen before, and I’m not going to not buy it because I don’t have the room for it.”

Eric Schucht: 425-339-3477; eric.schucht@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EricSchucht.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Everett Community College's Dennis Skarr sits in front of a 15-foot interactive wall that can replicate a manufacturing company's assembly line, hardware, software and networks on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021 in Everett, Washington. A class taught by Skarr focuses on cyber threats against manufacturers, pipelines, water treatment systems and electrical grids.(Andy Bronson / The Herald)
At EvCC, ‘The Wall’ teaches students how to thwart cyber crime

The Everett college is first in the nation to have a tool that can model cyber attacks aimed at vital infrastructure.

Double Barrel owner Lionel Madriz places a wine sale sign outside of his business on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Job-seekers today are choosy, forcing employers to adapt

If they even show up, prospective employees are calling the shots. First question: What’s the pay?

The Lab@Everett director Diane Kamionka stands outside the Lab's new home at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021 in Everett, Washington. When Everett Community College tore down the Broadway mall to make room for its new Cascade Resource Learning Center, The Lab@everett, a business accelerator, also succumbed to the bulldozer. However, the city of Everett found a new home for the TheLab, which serves entrepreneurs and startups: the Angel of the Winds Arena. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Everett business incubator finds a sporty new home

TheLab@everett, an innovation center for entrepreneurs, has relocated to Angel of the Winds Arena.

An illustration of the TerraPower Natrium nuclear-power plant planned for Kemmerer, Wyoming. (TerraPower) 20211201
TerraPower plans to build demo nuclear reactor in Wyoming

The firm, which operates a research facility in Everett, is developing an electricity-generating plant.

Local aero firms get $4.5 million from feds to protect jobs

Federal Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program grants were awarded to six Snohomish County employers.

Carpenters from America and Switzerland build the first "modular home" made from cross-laminated timber, inside a warehouse on Marine View Drive on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Affordable housing’s future? Innovative home built in Everett

Swiss and American carpenters built the nation’s first “modular home” made of cross-laminated timber.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson speaks to lawmakers as Michael Stumo, holding a photo of his daughter Samya Rose Stumo, and his wife Nadia Milleron, sit behind him during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on the implementation of aviation safety reform at the US Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Samya Stumo was among those killed in a Boeing 737 Max 8 crash in 2019. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
Democrats push FAA for action against certain Boeing 737 Max employees

Rep. Rick Larsen co-signed the letter stating concerns over the “absence of rigorous accountability.”

FILE - In this June 12, 2017, file photo, a Boeing 787 airplane being built for Norwegian Air Shuttle is shown at Boeing Co.'s assembly facility, in Everett, Wash. Boeing is dealing with a new production problem involving its 787 jet, in which inspections have found flaws in the way that sections of the rear of the plane were joined together. Boeing said Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, it's not an immediate safety risk but could cause the planes to age prematurely. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FAA memo reveals more Boeing 787 manufacturing defects

The company said the problems do not present an immediate safety-of-flight issue.

Homes in The Point subdivision border the construction of the Go East Corp. landfill on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mudslide briefly stalls housing project at former Everett landfill

The slide buried two excavators in September. Work has resumed to make room for nearly 100 new houses.

Ameé Quiriconi, Snohomish author, podcaster and entrepreneur.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Snohomish author’s handbook charts a course for female entrepreneurs

She’s invented sustainable concrete, run award-winning wedding venues and worked in business… Continue reading

A final environmental cleanup is set to begin next year at the ExxonMobil and ADC properties, neighboring the Port of Everett. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Port of Everett to get $350K for its costs in soil clean-up

The end is finally in sight for a project to scrub petroleum from two waterfront parcels, owned by ExxonMobil and ADC.

Shawn Loring, owner of Lazy Boy Brewing, received $10,000 through Everett's federal CARES Act funding.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett, Snohomish breweries to open on Everett waterfront

Lazy Boy Brewing and Sound to Summit see a bright future at the port’s Waterfront Place.