CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – Whether it’s to explore a passion or make ends meet, people have been taking on extra work in the form of “side hustles,” especially since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

You may have heard of gigs like ride-sharing and delivering groceries. WCIA reporters caught up with two Champaign workers about their unique side hustles.

“As word of mouth spread, then it just really grew from there and has become a successful business,” Sports Greats Collectibles owner Greg Sopa said.

Greg Sopa works full-time as a customer experience director, but his side hustle started during the pandemic – a time he says reignited an old hobby.

“Obviously looking for something to do, just decided ‘hey, maybe I’ll get back into it,'” Sopa said.

He noticed there weren’t many companies selling display cases designed for collectible sports cards, and even fewer creating custom casings. So, he got to work.

“Not just [to] buy and sell cards, but be able to actually sell storage cases and custom cases that people could display their cards in. Especially as the sports card market just blew up during Covid,” Sopa said.

It allowed him to connect with other hobbyists online during the state’s stay-at-home orders, and maintain those relationships at card shows when stores opened back up.

“It definitely adds some extra money in my pocket. It really started out just as something to do,” Sopa said.

CBS News reports “nearly half” of working Americans have a side gig these days. While some hustlers are driven largely by interest, others need the supplemental income, especially as they continue to recover from the financial toll of the pandemic and historic rises in inflation.

“Even during the pandemic, the phone calls never stopped, and the anxiety. Then people that were able to hunker down and feel safe, now that they’re coming out of it, anxiety is through the roof,” Bodhi Counseling owner Melanie Sivley said.

Melanie Sivley’s side hustle started just a few months ago.

“Even being a therapist, income is limited by how many clients we see, basically. This is a nice way to throw some extra money in the Bodhi pot,” Sivley said.

Sivley is a licensed clinical social worker. On top of running Bodhi Counseling & Consulting, she sells mental health worksheets that help people track their habits, anxiety and more.

“It can be a lot. It can be exhausting because I do a lot of the side hustle stuff on my own time,” she said.

Sivley says her online shop hasn’t gotten much traction yet, but when it does, she plans to share profits with the rest of her employees.

“We can’t see more clients than we do, so hopefully this will take off and help a little bit,” Sivley said.