LODI, N.J.– There was a time when AJ Maltese of Lodi had only $300 to his name.
He'd just lost his job and was unsuccessful in the job market. Maltese, however, started his own business – ASAP Retro Games & More – buying and re-selling video games.
"I found out there was a market for old-school video games and toys [and I] could sell used items and make money," said Maltese, 21.
Maltese was born with dyspraxia, which affected his motor skills.
"It makes me very clumsy," he admits. "Some things, I can't do still, like ride a bike. I have a hard time pronouncing some words."
But talking about his passion – he remembers playing Playstation as a toddler – helps Maltese overcome the speech element of his dyspraxia.
"When it's all about games, I don't stutter or mispronounce words," said the 2013 Bergen County Technical High School (Paramus) graduate.
Maltese concedes struggling to fix consoles but "I taught myself how to focus and not mess up," he added.
The Bergen Community College student owns more than 700 games and roughly 50 consoles.
He buys and sells new and old games, mostly those for Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo64, Gameboy, GameCube, and Playstation 1.
"I try to pay a very fair price and sell them for one [as well]," Maltese said.
ASAP Retro Games is a full-time business for Maltese, who estimates he spends 30 hours per week finding items and selling them online and another 26 hours on weekends at flea markets.
"You have to be dedicated and know the field," he said.
Maltese hopes to open a storefront in his hometown within the next five years.
"I wish I could do it now but it's hard when you're 21," he said. "[But] I know I can."