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This Thetford Redditor Is Riding The GameStop Stock To The Moon (Or To Make Enough For New Dog Toys)

The GameStop stock, as seen on the popular Robinhood app, fluctuates in price Tuesday morning after soaring in value last week. Vermonters are among the traders taking part in this Reddit-fueled rally for the popular video game retailer.
Robinhood, courtesy

A band of day-trading internet users on the popular website Reddit have pummeled Wall Street by gobbling up the stock of GameStop, a brick-and-mortar video game retail chain. Many Redditors grabbed the stock for just a few dollars before it skyrocketed in value to more than $300 a share. Their gain was nothing but pain for some hedge funds and others on Wall Street. But what’s motivating these rebel investors?

VPR's Mitch Wertlieb spoke to Christian Pelletier, a Reddit user and investor in Thetford, about how he got involved in investing in GameStop and the "meme stock" phenomenon. Their conversation has been edited for clarity.

Mitch Wertlieb: When did you first start paying attention [to this stock], and how did you get involved in buying the GameStop stock?

Christian Pelletier: I probably heard about it at the end of last year, maybe late December. And I got involved in actually buying a few shares of the stock only about two weeks ago, so just slightly before others got involved. So it’s been on my radar for a while, but luckily, I got in a little earlier than most.

Is this something you’ve done a lot, or were you just kind of dabbling at trying your hand in investing?

Certainly dabbling in this kind [of stock buying]. I have had more traditional investment mechanisms before, but this has become so accessible to someone sitting at home during quarantine, to have an app like Robinhood, and to make a trade like this. So, it's one of the first trades I've done in this manner.

Tell us about the subreddit r/wallstreetbets. What did you see there that made you want to invest your money this way?

Well, it's definitely an interesting group of people that have come together to provide unconventional stock advice. And you see lots of different posts suggesting a whole gamut of trades; some very good and some very bad. But this one appealed to me because it had fundamental research behind it, on why GameStop might be undervalued, and why hedge funds over-shorted the stock and created the situation that we have today.

A lot of the reasons that we hear that people got into this was sort of to, let's say, stick it to the man, if you will, because these big hedge funds make a lot of money by shorting stocks. And apparently this subreddit group got together and said, "You know what? If they're going to say that GameStop is a loser and they're going to try to short this stock and make a lot of money off it, we're going to do exactly the opposite."

Was that part of your motivation? Did you feel a little bit like you were, you know, playing David to Goliath, in a way?

Certainly. It's natural to feel, when you see we're in a pandemic, and you think of businesses that are struggling to stay afloat, and you see a hedge fund short a company over 100%, you think this shouldn't be going on. And it feels good to kind of stand up to the powers that are stronger than you.

So what is your ultimate goal here? Because we've already seen this stock top out around $460 a share last week. It's about, I think, $200 [as of Tuesday morning]. So you may have already missed out on that window to cash out and really make big money. I'm just wondering what your personal plan is on this?

I got in early enough, where I still have a little bit of profit on paper, but I intend to hold my shares and see where this goes. I'm not convinced it's completely over. So I will be a spectator and keep following the stock price and following the news. I'm ready to hold on for as long as need be to see where this plays out.

That's fascinating. I'm wondering if that is a viable plan, because, again, GameStop is a brick and mortar shop, you know, selling video games. Everything is digital now. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that can keep going up. But you're thinking — or betting — that it can?

No, I think this price is way, way overinflated, but I'm not sure all the short interest is covered on the stock. So I still think there is room to go up, but I think it will settle back down well, well below what we have now. But I still think that could be maybe days away or weeks away until it goes back down.

Yeah, I guess it's all about, you know, when do you finally sell. But Christian, even if you don't sell at a profit, will this have been worth it for you?

Oh, for sure. I've learned more about the stock market in the last two weeks — locations where I can find pertinent data about companies or [securities and exchange commission] data on the stock market. I think it's been just a great lesson on the power of the individual investor, and where to find the resources to take control of your finances.

Do you mind if I ask — if you do, you know, make some kind of profit on this, whether it's healthy or even modest, what do you plan to do with the money?

I definitely am going to take my dogs to a nice pet store and get them some new toys, because they deserve it. And then I will save some of it. And then, certainly, there's been a strong sentiment from [these] online communities that it's our duty to give back from these profits to local charities and nonprofits, so I will certainly be donating to help some more vulnerable Vermonters at this time. So I'm looking forward to that, regardless of how this works out.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb @mwertlieb.

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A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
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