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'Gotta Gift 'Em All: A Pokémon YouTuber Grows Community with Kindness'

‘Gotta Gift ‘Em All: A Pokémon YouTuber Grows Community with Kindness’

Pokemon card convention
Ross “Coop” Cooper and traders at a recent Pokémon card convention. (Ross Cooper / Ross Cooper)

There’s a warmth and a sense of amused resignation in his voice each time.

“I’m going to give you both of them,” Ross “Coop” Cooper says, handing yet another Pokémon card to a child who was ready to buy one.

Children come clutching their allowances, eager to buy or trade Pokémon cards with more experienced collectors.

But Coop, who documents his booth at Richmond, Va., collectible conventions for his YouTube channel, isn’t focused on profit.

“I guess at the end of the day, I’m a big softie,” Coop says.

His wife often jokes, “If we ever have kids, you’ve got to learn how to be the bad cop because you don’t get to always be the good cop.”

Coop began collecting Pokémon cards in 2018. He was a ’90s kid during the height of Pokémania but eventually lost interest.

“In 2018, I don’t know why or how, a YouTuber named MaxmoefoePokemon—one of his videos got recommended to me, and I watched it and thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,’” Coop recalls.

“I remember thinking, this guy looks like he’s having a ton of fun opening up Pokémon cards.”

With that inspiration, Coop ordered $200 worth of cards and alerted his wife to the impending charge. He quickly rediscovered his love for collecting.

“It’s all been downhill from there,” he joked. “I fell in love with collecting again.”

Today, Coop owns around 400 valuable trading cards and thousands of less valuable ones.

As his YouTube channel matured from unboxing videos to active trading, he built a loyal subscriber base who enjoy watching his trades and frequent acts of generosity.

At conventions, Coop aims to buy and trade cards but often ends up giving them away to enthusiastic onlookers, particularly children.

“It’s just too easy for me to give [cards away], because at the end of the day, it doesn’t stop me from eating,” he says.

Coop estimates that over the past six years, he’s given away more than 1,000 cards.

“I can tell when people buy their favorites online because they might buy multiple of the same character,” he notes. “I like to dig through my other binders to find extras I can include.”

Trading cards and making YouTube videos is a hobby and side hustle for Coop, who works a regular 9-to-5 job as a data and analytics strategist in financial services.

This financial stability allows him to be generous with the cards, unlike others who might focus on profit.

“When there’s money involved, it can bring out the worst in people. But younger collectors are in it for the love of Pokémon and the joy of collecting,” Coop explains.

“They’re excited about completing a set they’ve been working on or getting a card they’ve eagerly anticipated, rather than flipping cards for profit.”

Only recently did Coop start making real money from his YouTube channel. Due to YouTube’s strict monetization rules, his videos only began generating ad revenue in mid-May when one of his short videos went viral.

His first check from YouTube amounted to around $3,000.

“I’m able to focus on the joy of collecting without worrying about hitting a sales target to pay bills,” says Coop.

While he entertains the idea of expanding his channel into a career, he has no ambition to make selling cards his main income source.

“There’s something about spreading joy and kindness that feels like getting paid tenfold,” he says.

“Selling a card for $10 is great, but seeing pure excitement from giving something away is worth so much more.”

Through his generosity, Coop has made regulars at his booth, including 9-year-old Wyatt and his dad, Matt.

At a recent convention, Wyatt and his dad approached Coop’s booth. Coop immediately recognized the rising 5th grader and remembered that one of Wyatt’s favorite Pokémon characters was Mew.

As he searched for a card to gift Wyatt, the boy handed Coop a hand-colored picture of three first-generation Pokémon: Charizard, Venusaur, and Blastoise.

“I thought it was awesome that he wanted to show me his art. Then, Matt whispered to Wyatt, asking if he wanted to tell me that the drawing was for me,” Coop says.

“I was so surprised and truly overjoyed that Wyatt felt compelled to give me that picture. It means so much when a child expresses their appreciation through art.”

Source: NPR