A 26-year-old card game fanatic opens a store in southwest Springfield

Near the intersection of Republic Road and the Kansas Expressway, a 26-year-old entrepreneur has opened the first brick-and-mortar store for the trading card game business he officially started last year.

Goat Farm Games, located at 2767 W. Republic Rd., Ste. 112, quietly opened its doors in early May and is planning a grand opening sometime in mid-June, owner Elijah Bishop said during an interview at the store on May 30.

There are no goats and it is not a farm. The store focuses on popular trading card games such as Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering, acting as a retailer to buy and sell individual cards and sets.

“I’ve worked for a few game stores (and) taken their model and added a few spins of my own personal stuff, and so far it’s been a very successful business,” Bishop said. “It’s really surprising how well done in the first two months as a physical store.”

Running a card business out of a small apartment in Springfield

A collection of Pokémon cards inside Goat Farm Games. The store buys and sells collectible trading playing cards. (Photo by Ryan Collins)

Goat Farm Games started in Bishop’s small apartment in Springfield during the COVID-19 pandemic as an online store, he said. The business grew and in no time he was selling more books than his space would allow. There came a time when Goat Farm Games had about 150,000 cards listed for sale.

The books “kept rolling and rolling and rolling out of my apartment and I thought, ‘Well, maybe this is kind of viable,’” Bishop said.

In May 2023, Bishop created Goat Farm Games, LLC, according to Missouri Secretary of State records. His small apartment couldn’t hold all of his inventory, and he said he knew he had to start looking for a brick-and-mortar store. The search didn’t last long before Bishop settled on the scene in Wilson Creek Center off West Republic Road.

Having a brick-and-mortar store hasn’t meant a drop in online sales, he said. It’s quite the opposite. A storefront helps increase online sales in the card game business.

“A lot of these stores have to be online with it now,” Bishop said, speaking of the card game industry. “Without the online part, I don’t think a business like this would be as profitable, and I don’t think it would be worth it.”

Goat Farm Games’ online presence is still the biggest part of its business, Bishop said. It has many customers who buy thousands of cards at once from the store’s online store. These customers could be called “influencers” in the gaming world. They open decks – sometimes hundreds of cards in one video and then sell those decks to those watching.

Goat Farm Games ships to customers all over the USA

“A lot of my clientele is those people who buy in bulk,” Bishop said, adding that box-breaking streams, or players opening decks of cards, are popular on TikTok Live and other platforms.

Flipping online cards and hosting night tournaments

Goat Farm Games is an online and in-person card provider for games such as Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering. (Photo by Ryan Collins)

The individual cards the store buys from customers who come to the brick-and-mortar location are returned and sold online, Bishop said. Goat Farm offers cash for individual cards, and then Bishop posts those cards online at higher prices. After a card is sold, all they have to do is package it and pay for shipping. The company pockets the margin of each card sold.

After hundreds of sales, the margins start to add up.

“Once you get a customer, if you give them good customer service, you have good prices, you offer fair prices to buy their cards, (then) you have a customer for life,” Bishop said.

Another advantage of a brick-and-mortar store: Card makers and distributors will actually deliver huge orders to the door, Bishop said. Most playing card manufacturers do not allow dealers to ship to residential addresses. This means that Goat Farm Games now has direct access to highly requested card games such as Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering.

“None of these will be shipped to a residential home,” Bishop said. “It has to be a brick and mortar with a business license.”

By having a physical location, Goat Farm Games can host events at its store, Bishop said. Events focus on a specific card game and change almost every night of the week.

Goat Farm Games also hosts tournaments for various games, Bishop said. Holding these events is a requirement for some gaming companies to sell their books. Nationally, card tournaments can award prizes of up to $30,000, so players use small-scale contests to practice.

A 13-year-old love for trading card games and an unconventional business name

Boxes of sealed Pokémon cards are displayed at Goat Farm Games, located on West Republic Road. (Photo by Ryan Collins)

The name of the business comes from the owner’s past. While in college at Missouri State University, Bishop’s friends began calling him “the goat farmer” because he grew up in Poplar Bluff, located in rural southeast Missouri. The name stuck, and years later, Goat Farm Games was the first thing that came to mind when he started his card game business.

The nickname “just slowly grew and I was like, ‘GFG, (that’s) a nice acronym,’” Bishop said. “So we’ll go with him. I didn’t have anything better at the time.”

When Bishop was 13, his uncle opened a book and comic shop, he said. He was visiting to see his uncle, but fell in love with every aspect of the store. Bishop was hooked and the hobby turned into a lifelong passion. About a decade later, he ended up building a business around it.

“My mom took me there one day just to go support him (uncle),” Bishop said. “I fell in love with all trading cards. I liked the atmosphere in it.”

To rent the space, Bishop pays $1,500 a month, he said. The owner of the card shop signed a three-year lease with an option to renew for a further three years after the initial lease, which began in May 2024.

Goat Farm Games is housed in the Wilson Creek Center, which is owned by Burkat, LLC, according to Greene County Tax Collector’s Office records. The center is over 20,000 square feet and had an estimated value of $1.9 million. Burkat, LLC, is registered to Iftikhar Ali in Joplin, according to Missouri Secretary of State records.

Goat Farm Games has about 300,000 cards worth about $30,000

Elijah Bishop is the owner of Goat Farm Games, located at 2767 W. Republic Rd., Ste. 112. The trading card game store will host a grand opening in mid-June. (Photo by Ryan Collins)

Bishop’s inventory is the most expensive aspect of the business, he said. The seller has over 300,000 cards worth a total of about $30,000. All inventory is owned by Bishop. The owner said he needs to keep a large amount of capital to buy cards from customers and sell them online.

“You have to have the bread and butter capital, which is buying people’s cards back,” Bishop said.

Aside from the inventory and money for the books, setting up a brick-and-mortar location wasn’t too expensive, Bishop said. He has about $2,000 in furniture and equipment and plans to buy more, such as storefronts.

A new sign is being made for the card shop and should be delivered and installed in early June, Bishop said. Aside from some minor aesthetic work, once the sign is in place, Goat Farm Games will be ready for its grand opening, slated for mid-June.

The card shop is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 14:00 to 22:00 and on Fridays from 14:00 to midnight. The shop is open from noon to midnight on Saturdays and from noon to 10pm on Sundays. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Bishop said the card game industry is a very difficult one to establish, but once a company is known and appreciated by customers, it can be very profitable.

“It’s a very slow industry to build that trust and respect … between you and the customer,” Bishop said. “But once you do that, it kind of grows exponentially.”

Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is a business and economic development reporter for the Springfield Daily Citizen. Collins graduated from Glendale High School in 2011 before studying journalism and economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked for Bloomberg News. Contact him at (417) 849-2570 or [email protected]. More by Ryan Collins