Horizon West resident Ben Hess hopes to break the Guinness World Record on largest collection of zero-value gift cards.
It’s Wednesday afternoon when the doorbell rings at the Hess’ Independence home. Meredith Hess heads to the door, wondering who the package is from today.
As usual, it’s for her son, Ben Hess.
Fifteen-year-old Ben opens the package, discovering it is from Five Guys, a hamburger chain company. A Five Guys T-shirt tumbles out of the package, and Ben admires the logos. But then, he opens the envelope and finds the true prize.
A Five Guys gift card.
“Ah, this is really interesting,” Ben says as he examines the card. “I have the card (already), but this one has a Canadian leaf.”
AIMING TO BREAK A WORLD RECORD
No collection Ben has is bigger than that of his gift cards. The collection has gotten so extensive that he is now trying to break the Guinness World Record for Largest Gift Card collection.
Ben currently has more than 1,327 unique gift cards of zero value, short of the current record of 3,215 cards, held by David and Aaron Miller, of Scarsdale, New York. But Ben’s plan is to hit 5,000 cards by sometime next year.
And once he’s hit 5,000?
“I still just think it would be great to keep collecting them,” he said. “I think it’s kind of cool how many times logos go in different phases and they change.”
When he was younger, Ben was fascinated with the logos on gift cards. He would cut the logos from the cards, and attach them to his blocks, which would resemble stores.
The family started collecting cards in 2009, picking up unique ones they found while traveling. Ben soon discovered he could go to a mall and find a host of interesting cards with interesting logos and designs.
During the holiday season, Ben and his father, Jeff Hess, discovered that Christmastime offered a new collection of gift cards. Since then, Ben has wanted to keep expanding his collection.
He created a blog, cardcollectorking.com, to share his adventures in collecting and efforts toward breaking the record. Now, he walks into stores and tells them what he is doing. In the past, stores usually gave him one gift card. Now, managers will often let him take one of each design, in hopes of helping him break his record.
The family is even working on reaching out to corporations such as Five Guys. After communication with the companies, he often receives gift cards in the mail as well as an accompanying note.
Friends, family and others who find out about him also send their gift cards.
A LOVE OF CARDS
For Ben, it’s not just a numbers game. He is fascinated with logos on the cards and keeps them sorted in
binders in his living room.
“You would think somebody would take the cards, put them in a binder and just get more cards,” Jeff Hess said. “But these will go on the floor to be resorted once a week. … He’s somebody who’s passionate and just loves the different cards.”
Each day, Ben has to decide which cards he wants to examine.
“Whenever Ben goes in the car, he grabs a stack, so he has something to look at when we’re driving,” Meredith Hess said.
Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].