Thrifting For Games

Let’s be honest the game market sucks right now. If you are anyone who likes to play games made before the PS3 era you have a good chance of paying a pretty penny for what you want. This is because of the spike in the game market that happened a few years ago and it tends to suck the money right out of most collectors wallets. This can be even more frustrating for those of us who just want to pick up our favorite childhood game for a nostalgic play through. I mean really who wants to pay over $50 for a 10-year-old game? That’s not even counting the cost of the system to play its own if you need one.

Being Thrifty

Lucky for us there are ways to find the locations you are most likely to find retro treasure. The places retro games tend to pop up prices and eBay scalpers trying to ruin our childhoods. This is because there are a lot of places you can search to get these games for cheap. This isn’t one of those articles that are going to link you to a scam site these are real tips that have been paying off for the retro community for years. All you will need is to ditch the debit card for a wallet full of cold hard cash and learn a few local locations to begin your hunt.

First lesson, the internet, for the most part, is never the place you want to look for these games. Unless of course they have been released digitally, then, by all means, get them that way. As for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have our games on an e-shop we are going to have to venture out into the world to find these games. Now, we are going to have to go over a few rules because what we are going to be doing is thrifting for games. That means we are going to be going to anywhere that sells used goods for cheap.

Second, get rid of any notions you may have of thrift stores. If you have never been in one it works like this, people donate things they don’t want and the stores sell them for cheap. A lot of this stuff comes from old boxes that people just want out and don’t really care where it goes. You will have to do a lot of digging through items as well as store and sale hoping to find what you need. The hunt is actually pretty fun and you get a sweet feeling of accomplishment when you finally find something. There are even whole subreddits dedicated to people posting the hauls they get from thrifting for games.

The Hunt

The hunt is the fun part of finding old games. First, we are going to talk about are our Goodwills, yard sales, and flea markets. Of course, all three of these are totally different environments you will have to know how to deal with in order to get a good deal. The simplest, of course, is Goodwill here you want to find pushy salespeople or haggling. You just need to check in a few times a week and be willing to go through the shelves to see what you can find. Every visit wants to be valuable, but when they are they are usually pretty great. The items I most find at shops like Goodwill are older systems and more popular games like Mario for cheap.

Next we are going to talk about yard sales. Yard Sales are essentially a code for please get all of this useless stuff out of my house. People aren’t looking to get rich off of their yard sale they are looking to get rid of old junk. A lot of time this is where you can find older consoles bundled with games for grand totals around $15 for the whole package. A lot of times you will find people with stacks of old games that will give you a deal if you’re willing to take more than one. Be sure to ask if you can get a discount for bundles chances are you can probably get it if you’re willing to take a lot of things out of their hair. Who knows you may even find some things you need around the house by looking through yard sales.

On to Flea Markets, these are easily my least favorite environment to shop in. Expect tons of people and pushy tables trying to sell you their rare beanie babies everywhere. With this, you have two types of people…the same ones who do yard sales and the ones who have money goals. The guys who have money goals will tell everyone a different price and will try to convince you something is worth more than it is. They are here to take home as much money as they can at the end of the day. Generally, though these are older folks who still don’t quite know the worth of that N64 they drug out from the garage. Be polite and look over several items so they won’t figure out you’re only there for the games. If they do you may find your price higher than what you could have paid.

Bargaining Tips

First off, never jump up and down when you find a rare game or look like your overly excited. This will tip off the seller that they have something special and let’s be honest they will probably google it. Don’t try to act hostile either just do what you would when you’re shopping for anything else. Remember, these are people and they do have emotions so acting stingy isn’t going to win you any points with them. Also, don’t just walk around the flea market carrying a bunch of games you bought, put them in your car so you don’t stand out. If the parking is a bit away bring a durable bag or backpack for your purchases.

Next, try doing this in smaller towns it will be worth it. Smaller towns are typically less likely to have hardcore gamers and collectors. This means they are more willing to get rid of things without trying to figure out the eBay price first. In a lot of smaller towns, you will also find that the pawn shops will take in a lot of games without a second thought to what they are. While they may make known titles like Pokemon or Mario more expensive, Chrono Trigger isn’t going to look like anything that special to them. Don’t believe me? I live in one and I have seen friends do weekly hauls of Ducktales and all the GameCube games you could ever want. The most they have ever paid is $10 for a game.

Additionally, make sure you can spot fake and reprint carts. These commonly will pop up in places for resale and can be easily mistaken in your excitement. They often will be missing logo’s or the labels will look funny/new. Even a well taken care of cart isn’t going to gleam like it was made yesterday or at least if it does you probably won’t find it for cheap in any of these places. Of course, if you’re ok with reprints and can get them for cheap they are worth it. A new reprint cartridge can cost between $25- $50 if bought from a seller.

Jessica has been working with the gaming industry for about two years now. She enjoys playing quirky Japanese games and learning about the newest trivia in the industry. When not working with games you may find her chilling with her naked cat Prince Noko... he's pretty cool we guess.