Since I got really into retro stuff about ten years ago, my collection has vastly increased. I became a bit hooked on adding things to my retro collection and increasing my amount of sources of nostalgia. Firstly, here are the three ways that I had, of adding things to my collection.

Reclaiming from my youth or from friends
Every time I would go back to my parents’ house I would find more of my own personal collection from back in the day, that I would reclaim. Or other family members or friends would discover things in their lofts and very kindly donate them to me. You could call this the organic expansion of my collection. Nice and easy and great to have that personal connection to the items.

Boot fairs
The next way of acquiring retro items would be from proactively walking round charity shops or getting up super early to go to car boot fairs (or flea markets). 5-10 years ago you could get truly amazing stuff from both of these situations. For the last 2-3 years, however, it’s really been drying up. Either the majority of good retro stuff has already resurfaced and been rehoused, or people are now more savvy, and rather than giving their retro items to charity shops of flogging them for pittance at boot fairs, they are trying to get more cash from them on sites like eBay. Both are probably true.

Speaking of eBay, that’s the final main way of adding to my retro collection. When you can’t get something in the wild, that’s when you go hunting online. And boy can you get yourself lost on there. I certainly can. It’s absolutely amazing the kinds of retro things you can find on eBay and you can still get loads of great bargains on there even now, particularly if you like random ephemera like I do, such as leaflets and smaller items like badges etc. But it’s easy to get lost down a rabbit hole of finding owners selling one thing that you want and then you explore all the other items that person sells. I try not to browse eBay after having a few drinks these days because it’s so easy to buy so many things!

So while the eBay app is a massive pro for adding to your collection, the ease of access it gives can also be a negative, as the bills can mount up. I often have to give myself a monthly eBay limit, and sometimes for my birthday I ask for eBay money so that I can enjoy the thrill of the hunt online as well as getting the actual present. It’s the sort of thing that makes me wish I could win the lottery and have a massive eBay spending spree, or perhaps at least improve my skills on how to budget or something. I’ve even deleted the eBay app some months, just to find a way to stop myself from switching on eBay in bed in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. 

I now actually already have the majority of the main retro items that I have wanted to own, so I find myself going onto eBay less and less now, unless I am specifically hunting for a certain item. But that success in collection brings me to my next issue… space.

Even if you do have enough money to get whatever you want, you still probably can’t get it all because ‘stuff’ takes up space. Even if you just collect small or thin things like leaflets and comics they still take up space eventually. But when you throw in old computers and consoles, action figures and boxed gadgets, space really becomes a premium. I’m very lucky to have a dedicated little retrocave that I also work from home in, where I can house my collection. But it still has limited space. I had to make a decision about what I was going to collect. For example I collect a lot of old computers and consoles but I don’t collect hundreds of games for them, and a lot of the games I do have are stored up in the loft. One other item which can take up loads of space is VHS tapes. I do love VHS tapes but they are so big and so I have had to be really cutthroat about which ones I display. There’s not just room for them all. So my rule is that every item or mini-collection has to give me joy when I look at it. The art on the box, or the memories or whatever it is has to give me a reason to keep it on display. The one area I really struggle with is wall space. There are so many cool pieces of artwork, or old posters etc that I would love to hang up but there is only so much wall space.

And for my specific collections, I have purposefully not chosen massive collections that take a lot of money and a lot of space to collect, such as the whole catalogue of SNES games or anything like that. I instead do smaller mini collections. For example I collect all the old Spectrum computers, and they’re the bulkiest of my collection but it’s only a few computers. And I collected every single Asterix book and every single Calvin & Hobbes book. I also collect Love Wolf and Final Fantasy books, as well as movie novelisations. So basically just smaller items and ones where I normally have a small finite list to complete.

I’ve generally curtailed my collection as a whole to just those items that really do bring me joy, and all in all I’m happy with where my collection has ended up. I only have a few items still to add, which I hope to do sometime soon, as long as my money and space allow it of course. Although, after I get everything I want I’m sure I will miss the thrill of the chase. But perhaps I will then have more time to actually play and read all the things I have collected. Because after money and space, time is the final premium that is hard to have enough of! But I guess the longer I take to do things, the more retro everything gets and I guess that’s a good thing.