The typical retro game collector generally starts out with an old system they used to play in their childhood. They’ll start buying more games for it than they ever had as a kid because they’re so much cheaper these days. Soon, an entire shelf is filled and that’s when the habit really kicks in. They buy more and more, eventually moving on to other systems that they found at a garage sale or two along the way. And why stop at two systems? Soon, they’re researching Dreamcast, XBox, Turbografx and so on…
A collection is established. More than that, though, is a thrill for the hunt. It’s not the games the collector loves, it’s the journey. Ask yourself, when you find a great deal at a swap meet, do you appreciate more the games you added to your collection…or the story behind the deal? It wasn’t long ago that I found Demon’s Crest for $15 at Mile Hi Flea Market, but I can tell you that the game means far less to me than the memory of stumbling upon it on a table otherwise filled with garbage titles.
Nick A. is a passionate, relatively new collector. He boasts a blossoming collection built almost completely on Craigslist deals. Not just deals…great deals! But even he couldn’t foresee how one particular deal this weekend could turn out so wonderfully. It all started out with a seller posting an NES bundle:
Someone posted an NES lot describing the system, 50 games, and possibly some boxes. There were no images and just a sentence to go on. I think the ad said it had been up for 20 minutes when I texted. Two minutes later I got anxious and called her.
Sellers often sell themselves short when they don’t adequately describe or provide pictures for what they’re looking to unload. On the flip side, a studious buyer knows that this is how you find the goldmines. Seeking an opportunity, Nick took it:
I told her I was interested and she mentioned a couple titles. I asked if she could send pics. We hung up, she sent some bad pics, so I asked if she could provide a list. She called and had her husband read off the games to her, then she would repeat them to me. The listing made it sound like the system and games had boxes. When I called, it was clarified the system did not, and only some of the games did.
With an asking price on this lot of $200, some collectors would just stop right here. There’s a few “mystery” games, but nothing likely that would make the deal worthwhile. While Nick was on the phone with the seller, he handwrote the games being read off to him.
You may have also noticed that there weren’t 50 games. Only 39. Again, looking at this list, $200 doesn’t seem to be a great deal and the seller was located 30 minutes north. Would it be worth the trip? Even Nick wasn’t so sure when he texted me on the way up:
It’s a gamble and probably not worth it, but gonna do it anyway. Only real notable titles are Contra, Link, and a couple Mario games. She said Contra twice…really hoping they have both games.
To win big, you have to gamble big…and that drive ended up paying off.
Unable to get adequate pictures or an accurate portrayal of how many and what boxes existed, Nick ventured up north anyway. The boxes could’ve been all banged up, or the games could’ve had torn labels. Instead, the best case scenario. Nick paid the full $200, and here is everything he got:
A great deal indeed. But that’s not all! The seller was clearing out space and offered a sizable batch of Nintendo magazines to take for free!
These are the deals that make collecting so much fun! Will Nick play all these games and read all these magazines? Probably not. Will some games get sold or traded? Of course. But the memory of a wild goose chase that led to a bundle like this? He’ll remember that every time he sees that boxed Contra.