Photo caption: Israel Ampudia, an entrepreneur who sells collectible dinosaur figures. (Photo: courtesy of eBay)

In the darkness of a cinema, a Tyrannosaurus Rex appears on the screen. It begins a roar that shocks the audience. Two children, Israel Ampudia and his cousin, are taken aback by that Jurassic bellow. They were so shocked that they jumped out of their seats.

Far from traumatized, Ampudia became fascinated by prehistoric reptiles. First as a hobby and now as a business. In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the dinosaurs have supported his family’s income.

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Hit by the pandemic

“I manage and operate three restaurants. Unfortunately, the pandemic has dealt us a really big blow,” says Ampudia via a video call. Both he and his wife lost all their income when the red emergency level was declared.

But his passion for dinosaurs –he collects toys from the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World franchises– came to the rescue. With the sales of these products through eBay, Mercado Libre, and his own official website, Ampudia has earned money to support his family.

“This hobby has now become a business. This crisis has given me the opportunity, through my sales, to be able to lend money to people. I have lent money to my partners, colleagues, and family,” says the collector.

What Ampudia began as a hobby did not go unnoticed by his wife. She rebuked him about his continual purchases of dinosaur figures. So that it didn’t just become an extra family expense, Ampudia and his wife agreed that it would have to be a self-sustainable hobby.

“I told her, ‘don’t worry, let’s make a deal: I’m going to buy three or four of the same model, and I’m going to sell three to pay for the fourth.’ That’s how my collection became self-sustainable. Nine years later I think I have the largest store in Mexico, and possibly in the whole of Latin America,” he says, recalling when he began collecting as an adult.

Based on his results, eBay selected Ampudia’s Jurassic Fan Quest as Omnichannel Business of the Year. During the last two years, his store has had a sales growth of 1,500%. As eBay allows sales outside of Mexico, it was able to send pieces it had in inventory.

“About a year and a half ago, I stopped calling it a hobby. I became an official distributor for many brands from the United States,” says the entrepreneur.

One of his biggest single sales was a 20-by-20-centimeter prototype which fetched $11,000 USD.

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A future with reptiles

After adapting to seeing more and more figures of dinosaurs arrive in the mail, the Ampudia family has grown to like these reptiles. “My daughter turned two in May; she tells me all the time that she wants to see ‘Dinos’. It makes me so happy”, he shares.

Now, Ampudia’s plans are to keep the collectible toy sales business going and develop a more efficient database for sales in other countries.

“I’ve made sales in Australia, Indonesia, China, England, Germany, Spain, and Chile. The United States is obviously the largest market, it’s where I make 50% of all my sales. There are some very expensive products which, as soon as they arrive, already have high-level potential clients,” he says.

While the opening of restaurants and public places in the new normal is beginning, the Ampudia family’s income continues to come from the sale of dinosaurs.

“The restaurants began to open three months ago. (As a result of the capacity restrictions) sales are dire. I’m selling 20% of what I was selling before the pandemic. eBay continues to be a major pillar of support for everything I do,” he says.


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