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Meet Jovan and Shauna Bessette of J&S-VGS in East County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jovan and Shauna Bessette.

Jovan and Shauna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Jovan & I got married in August of 2012. We were young, in love and low on cash. Jovan grew up as a gamer and loved to try and involve me in his passion for video games. I was a big bargain hunter and began searching for a video game console we could both enjoy with as little cash as possible. I hunted down a Nintendo Wii on Craigslist for a ridiculously low price with more games than we ever needed. I realized that there were many more deals to be made while hunting online and at local San Diego Swap meets, that I started picking up video games and re-selling them online to make some side cash. What started out as a fun hobby to build up our nest egg, turned into a thriving online business that grew from a small bookshelf in our bedroom to a very full 2nd bedroom that started bursting at the seams.

In 2015 we became an S-Corp and began selling on several online platforms (Amazon, eBay, our own Webstore, etc.) and then providing claims sales 2x/week on our Instagram page (@js_vgs) where we ship to collectors all over the continental United States and to several different countries. We participate in several Retro Gaming Expo’s every year, allowing us the opportunity to connect with collectors from all over. Today, I (Shauna) work from home and maintain all operations for our online web store which gross $250K per year.

J&S is a Christian business that believes in giving back what we are blessed with. 10% of our profits go towards making care packages for the homeless community and to charitable organizations. In our gift bags, we provide them with a Bible, some cash, food, water, blanket and basic necessities.

We’re proud to have produced years of happy customers and look forward to continuing our work for years to come! Our love for our Video Game Store drives who we are and what we do. Every. Single. Day.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s been several years of learning the ups and downs of business. Jovan and I don’t have educational backgrounds in business–far from it in fact. Jovan got his degree in Computer Technology and currently works as a Computer Support Tech at West Hills High School and I have a 2 B.S. Degrees in Psychology and Christian Behavioral Science and an M.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy. I’m currently studying to receive my LMFT license as I’ve just completed 3,000 counseling hours. Neither of us knew the first thing about running a business and how to adjust to selling online and all that entails.

There were a lot of mistakes that we learned from along the road–one is how to market to the right individuals. It took us a while to learn that the retro gaming community is a special group of individuals. They are passionate, particular about what they want, communicative and most of all LOYAL. We attribute a lot of our growth to them because once we really spent one on one time with them, we learned how to meet their needs and once we did so, our business blew up exponentially purely by word of mouth. Our Instagram community, in particular, has been an excellent group to serve and to be a part of. The accounting, marketing, bookkeeping all was easy to learn but what really was a fight was to be accepted into the retro gaming collectors community. However, once we established that relationship–it has been incredible.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about J&S-VGS – what should we know?
We are video game resellers–meaning that we are the “American Pickers” of the gaming community. We spent the first several years of our business hunting at swap meets, yard sales, estate sales and building relationships with vendors to get all of our inventory. As time went on, our relationships with vendors became very close as they would hold inventory just for us. Currently, we get a lot of collectors who offload their whole collection to us as they trust us to provide the best price to them while providing the best customer service possible. We specialize specifically in retro video games–anything Playstation 2 and older with a concentration on Nintendo. We do sell the newer items but 95% of our business is centered around the 80’s and 90’s video games. A lot of what sets us apart from other video game resellers (brick and mortar stores included) is the fact that we provide a better payout rate than others.

Most stores will offer only 50%-60% of the items value. We provide 70%-80% often times. This keeps us competitive with other vendors and also it provides the customer with a sense of trust in us as we are giving them fair and honest pricing. Another thing that set us apart is our fast shipping and emphasis on customer service. We have been known at Expo’s to be one of the nicest booths to visit–we spend time with our customers, make an effort to get to know them and their passions–not just to make the sale but to build relationships. Also, the fact that we are a husband and wife team is rare and unusual in the retro community–so that usually set us apart quickly. Finally, what sets us apart is our commitment to give back to the community–as we commit a percentage of our profits to provide items for the homeless and at-risk peoples in our area.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The biggest benefit from this business has been that it allowed Jovan and I to become completely debt free. I mentioned earlier that I had several college degrees which left us in a lot of debt–coupled with a couple other loans it totaled over 160K in debt. In 3 years, this business allowed us to become completely debt free in April of this year and gave us a great down payment on our first home that we are moving into this week. The collector that make up the retro gaming community deserves all the credit for their unwavering loyalty to Jovan and I and spreading the word about our Instagram claim sales and our website at Expo and social media. We attribute so much of our success to them.

Also, we started selling our small bookshelf size inventory at Kobey’s Swap Meet for about 6-8 months and that really afforded us the ability to connect with a lot of other collector’s and vendors which helped us refocus our marketing and sales strategy. Ultimately, being a husband and wife team has really been an incredible blessing as we’ve really cheered each other on and pushed each other into being a small business is incredibly exhausting and time-consuming. With 80 hour work weeks for me and Jovan working a full-time job and working nights with me on shipping orders or getting new inventory–we really leaned on each other to help push each day to grow this business into what it is today. However, we couldn’t have done any of this without our belief and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and our church family at Barabbas Road Church. They’ve walked with us from the beginning and really encouraged us in every step of the way. We give all the glory for all of this to God first and foremost.

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Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Rochelle Guerra

    November 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I love your story. May God continue to bless you. Amazing how hard works pays off.

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