Having only seen one arcade auction in Iowa (after 30 auctions over the last 15-20 years), I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the Captains Auction Warehouse in Anaheim, California. I had met the “Captain” Chris Campbell, and several of his staff (thanks to friend in common Walter Day), at the Retro City Festival in Pomona a couple weeks earlier and interviewed him for this article.

The Captain and I sat down for nearly an hour, starting out talking about his life as a gamer. He went through being a gamer in the era of small dingy arcades, and arcade cabinets being everywhere, including such places as 7-11 gas stations. We then talked about how he took some time off from gaming, played in some bands, and years later started to settle down and play even more games.

CAPTAIN: When Sega Genesis came out, got that, 3DO came out, which was, I think the first disk playing home console unit. So I always stayed up with that and I think I always had enough money. I’ve always been able to hustle. I haven’t had to really scrape. If I wanted to get something, I could buy it. It’s no problem, because I always hustle – seeing value in everything that I come across, which allows me to buy and sell and do all of that.  I would say probably moving up to 1996-1997, I had done a series of jobs, working, and I’d been playing with eBay for about a year or two. I had to develop — eBay was pretty stock back then. It was a lot to open a bunch of screens, because that was the era of dial up. And I really got into what I do now just by touching the iceberg of eBay. Buying a game and then reselling the game – I think I made ten times my money back.

It was important for me in molding my business that particular purchases went to a particular person — the sale went to a person out of state, okay, this was eBay. And at the time, anybody who was involved in coin-op who was selling and buying on eBay, and you had large items, you had to track that item yourself to a location. You had to get it scaled and measured, and this tracking company would say, ‘Okay, now take it home, put a wooden crate on it, bring it back, and then we’ll ship it for you.’ And this is what people were doing for quite a while. During that time in between, when I really wasn’t doing anything with games, I worked for a series of companies. I was a warehouse guy, shipping and receiving, and then management. When I said this, I asked other people, ‘You guys are doing this every day?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah. It’s a pain in the…..”

 

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