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How I learned the highs and lows of entrepreneurship by selling Funko Pops

By Jason Perloff

Youthcast Media Group®

I bought Funko Pops — and turned it into a business.

It didn’t start out that way. At first I bought the vinyl pop-culture collectibles for the same reason other kids do: I liked them. But one day I looked at my figurine of Odell Beckham Jr. and I figured: Why not sell it?

High school student Jason Perloff poses with Funko Pops from Space Jam, Marvel, Candyman and more. (Photo courtesy of Jason Perloff)

So, I offered it on Mercari, the Japanese e-commerce company. Soon a buyer messaged me on the decluttering app and asked, “Is this still available?” I said yes. He made the purchase. And a business was born.

You can buy and sell on Mercari. Many people use it to sell things around the house they don’t need. I wondered if I could use the app to generate income by using the motto: “Buy low, sell high.”

My older brother was making money by investing in the stock market. I was a bit envious, so I began learning about the market, too. But I had little money to invest. That’s when I learned about Mercari from the ads on TikTok, and I wondered if I could generate enough income selling on the app to make some investments in the market.

I set up my Mercari account. It asked if I was 18. I said yes. (This was a fib.) My Odell Beckham Jr. figurine sold within two days. I honestly never thought it would be that easy. It seemed too simple. A few photos, a brief description — and just like that, money? No way.

So, I began posting other items I found around my house that I didn’t use anymore. I had two more sales my first week. (One was a regulation-size football, the other a mini-basketball hoop for hanging on doors.) Then it was just a matter of shipping the items.

The mail companies — FedEx, UPS, USPS — offered to come pick up the items, but I feared the packages might get stolen on my doorstep, so I decided to take them to the post office. I didn’t have a driver’s license at the time, only a learner’s permit, so I got my mother to drive me.

“I was glad he found something to do with his time,” my mother says, “so I rolled with it.”

The secret to my success was buying Funko Pops on Mercari and then selling them for more than I paid. For example, I bought a Bugs Bunny Funko Pop for $9, and then sold it for $15. Funko Pops are light — four inches high and four ounces — so they were cheap to send. That proved to be my advantage: I could offer the fastest and cheapest shipping, which made buyers willing to spend a little more to get it quickly.

My business was rolling. I began buying dozens of Funko Pops with money saved from Christmas and birthdays. I had football players, movie characters, cartoon characters. I would take photos of them, post them for sale, and I had a profit margin of $5 to $10 on each one after shipping. This went on for a few months and worked quite well.

Then I started selling my Nerf gun collection, until I got an email that said “immediate action required.” Mercari thought I was selling real guns. I had to confirm these were toys before I could reopen my account.

A few more weeks went by and all was going fine. But when my sales exceeded $600, Mercari notified me that I had to fill out a W-9 tax form. This required me to give my Social Security number. That revealed my age. And then I got an email that said my account was on hold until I turned 18. I was in shock. Months of work came to a halt. But I had to accept it, realizing there isn’t much I could do.

I still have plenty of money to contribute to my stock investments. I am putting around $20 a month into my portfolio. There is no doubt I have learned so much from just selling stuff online, and learning about the stock market.

When I turn 18, in a year and a half, I may start selling on Mercari again, if college does not interfere. If you are looking to get rid of some items, I totally recommend using Mercari.

It helped me earn, and learn, so much.

Jason Perloff is a 10th grade student at Annandale High School in Annandale, Va. He wrote this story in collaboration with Youthcast Media Group’s team of mentoring journalists.


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