Life after football can be overwhelming to some, especially to the pros who can get used to rock-star-like celebrity.
Zach Silverberg, 25, of Reisterstown understands this but seems to be adjusting well after a one-year stint in the German Football League 2. Once a top talent at Franklin High School, Silverberg played collegiately at Coastal Carolina University and found his niche as a return specialist.
While his efforts in college and Germany didn’t parlay into an NFL career, Silverberg has found an outlet in which to apply his competitive spirit: retro video games.
Silverberg has been playing video games most of his life. And five years ago, he began buying and selling video games, turning what had been a part-time hobby into a budding enterprise.
The aspiring entrepreneur used $5,000 of his German Football League earnings as seed money to take his operation, PHG (Prehistoric Games), to the next level. Silverberg estimates he has accumulated $15,000 to $20,000 in inventory (1,500 to 2,000 games), hundreds of accessories and dozens of consoles. He hopes to open a store with vintage titles, space for gamers and a recording studio for creative talent.
How did you get started with this?
Being a broke student-athlete in college, I needed a way to make money. I didn’t want to use the scarce free time I had working a job in retail or at a restaurant. I wanted to find my own way to make money. I started going to yard sales. From there, I became hooked.
I realized within the first year that I had built this collection that was like a hedge fund. I would take stuff I got at yard sales for $15 and turn it into $400. For example, I would buy a Super Nintendo and seven or eight games, then I would piece all that off for about $150. Then, I would take that $150 and buy something like a special edition Nintendo 3DS for $150 and sell that for about $250. I would take that $250 and buy a PlayStation4 and a few games and piece that off for $400. Next thing I know, I’d go from having $15 to $400 in a week or two. A lot of times, I’ll take what I make in those deals and invest in a bigger, more select bundle of rare games.
Where else do you find deals?
Things have gradually expanded [from just yard sales] to the point where I’m constantly on Craigslist, hitting up every local Goodwill and going to more consignment shops. I’ll be with friends, and they’ll get mad at me because I’m literally on my phone every five or 10 minutes scouring various websites for a deal.
What distinguishes you as a seller?
Ever since I watched the show “X-Play” on the [now-defunct] G4 channel, I always had an idea of doing a show or being on TV to talk about video games. It’s been something I’ve always wanted to pursue, but I never had the time or opportunity. About six months ago, I bought a camera, lighting equipment, a laptop and editing software. Now, I’ll do video segments on “Games of the Day” and present cartoon theories and whatever else people might find interesting. It’s really allowed me to transition from just being a person with a lot of games to now having a creative platform.
What does the future look like for PHG?
I have a group of motivated people around me who want to help build the video platform, and [we] bounce ideas off one another to see how I can continue expanding what I’m doing. A lot of them, like myself, were student-athletes, which really translates well to what we’re trying to build. I grew up working toward something, then football is taken away. So it’s like there is this gap or void. But with PHG, we’re taking this and making this the replacement for football. It’s sparked a lot of creative interest and good work ethics.