Football fans' mystery-box business scores all over the world
A small business launched in South Normanton during lockdown to cash in on the craze of mystery boxes is booming worldwide.
Football fans Jamie King, 31, and his friend, Alex Street, 37, set up Mystery Jersey King in February while they were still in their previous jobs.
They sell mystery boxes containing top-quality football shirts, with five per cent of every sale going to charity.
The business took off to such an extent that, this week, they hit turnover of a quarter of a million pounds.
In an average month, they send out 2,000 boxes, with orders from countries around the globe, such as Spain, Italy, Australia, Israel, Brazil and the USA.
What’s more, the company has already donated almost £3,000 to charities that tackle mental health, food poverty and bowel cancer, and help the NHS.
"Since we launched, it has gone a bit crazy,” said Jamie, who lives in South Normanton and was previously a spa manager at the Holiday Inn there.
"It’s hard to explain the appeal. But there is something very exciting about opening a box and not knowing what is in it.
"Normally, football fans would only buy the shirt of the team they support. But there are some unbelievably nice shirts out there. It’s a niche thing.”
Alex, who hails from London but now lives in Eastwood, supports AFC Wimbledon. He left his job as manager of the leisure club at Eastwood Hall to join forces with Jamie, who is a Mansfield Town fan.
Initially, they created Mystery Jersey King in their spare time. But word spread via impressed influencers on social-media platforms, and the duo soon realised they could go the whole hog. Those influencers include Tik Tok sensation Cal The Dragon, a football fanatic from Nottingham, who has 1.1 million followers.
In September, Jamie and Alex moved into an office in Pinxton and as the orders flood in, they plan to employ staff, rather than rely on help from family and friends.
"There are other mystery football-shirt box companies in the UK, but none at the level we are at,” Jamie said.
"We work with a lot of manufacturers, such as Kappa and Macron, and all our shirts are authentic and brand new. There are no fakes.”
Customers are asked which teams they would like to avoid. For instance, a Liverpool fan would not want to get a Manchester United shirt. But they genuinely do not know what’s inside until they open their box. And the more obscure the shirt, the better it seems to be received
"We have sent out expensive shirts and received no feedback,” Jamie went on. “But when someone got the shirt of a Turkish Third Division team, he loved it because it was unique.
"The shirts are great for people to wear when they play five-a-side, and as gifts for family and friends. We are already seeing Christmas orders coming in.”
The boxes cost £34.99 each, with versions for women and children also available.
All revenue is being pumped into establishing the business at present. But Jamie and Alex will soon be earning far more than they did in their previous jobs.
"I hope our story can give inspiration to others,” said Jamie. “The moral is that if you can find a niche, it can change your life.”