February treated me well this year—as it typically does, since it’s my birth month. Yes, 27 years ago, I was brought forth into this world, and my parents had no idea I’d grow up to be an insane videogame collector, begging on the street corner for spare games and sniffing for deals in the garbage. Or something like that.
What was I talking about? Oh, right! I bought some videogames this February! I should talk about those instead of myself. Nobody wants to hear about me, it’s all about the games.
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
Another Saturday, another day yard saling. I’d love to say that I found some good deals and walked away with some stuff this outing, but I unfortunately didn’t. Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a story to tell, as there always seems to be. I guess my Long Island home is littered with strange, strange people.
The first few stops on this Saturday morning weren’t anything special. I unfolded my usual plan of parking, looking at their things, finding no videogames, and then inquiring of the host to make doubly sure. Each time I was met with a disappointing report that no games were for sale.
It was on the fifth stop, however, that I came across an estate sale being held in a rather run-down shack of a house only a few blocks from my own. I parked and walked inside and was met warmly with a greeting from the hostess’s daughter, who introduced me to her mother as though I were a family friend.
“Hello there, son! What’s your name?” her mother said, and I felt suddenly seven years old again.
“Matt,” I said matter-of-factly.
“Are you looking for videogames?” she said, arms akimbo.
Suddenly I became aware that I was wearing my NES controller shirt and that my hoodie was unzipped, revealing it to the world.
“Oh! Yes, I actually am, do you have anything?”
She extended her hand to take mine, which I thought was a little strange, but when I showed slight hesitation, she implored me with, “Come with me!”
Despite my better judgment, I pressed my palm to hers and she led me out of the house, into the backyard, and into their shed, which was pitch black on the inside. The light from the sun was not at the correct angle to afford any vision into the small space, and so we walked together into the darkness.
She reached up and pulled a drawstring, which turned on the shed light and revealed an amazing bounty of videogames. I asked her if I might take a photograph, and I’m frustrated to say that she declined. It would have been a fantastic sight for you all to behold.
NES and SNES in the box. Multiple Tiger Electronics handhelds. A ColecoVision with what must have been thirty games in a box beside it. A model 2 Sega CD, sealed. The list goes on.
“Whoa!” I said out loud, which tickled this woman’s fancy. She chuckled and then became somber.
“My son used to play lots and lots of things before he passed away. Every time he got something new, we’d tell him, ‘Get rid of that old junk now, you upgraded!’ But he wasn’t the type to throw something away, even if he was only getting minimal use out of it. This stuff’s been in this shed for God-knows-how-long.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” I said, truly feeling bad. Parents should never outlive their children.
“Hey, don’t worry about it,” she said, chipper again. “It was a long time coming, we’re at peace with it now.” After a brief silence, during which time I looked even more avidly at the items before me, she continued, “So I take it you’re interested in this stuff?”
“A lot of it, yeah,” I said, rifling through the ColecoVision games.
“Well, we want to sell it altogether, so make me an offer!”
I stopped mentally in my tracks and sighed to myself, closing my eyes in disappointment. While it was true that I wanted pretty much all of this stuff, I was not optimistic that she would let the entire lot go for a small price. Moreover, I only had $50 in my pocket and I don’t like to spend more than that amount when I go out to sales.
Aside from that, I’m just not a big fan of the whole “make me an offer” shtick that some people do. At every opportunity, I’m gonna aim low with the hopes they’ll bite, but more often than not, those words mean, “I know what I’m charging for this, I just want to hear what you think it’s worth.”
With the mindset that I was neither in a store nor perusing eBay, I turned to this woman and offered my entire pocket’s worth of cash: “50 bucks?”
Immediately she yelled (and I mean yelled), “Do you take me for a fool? 50 bucks? This stuff is worth at least $300 altogether!”
She was right, if we’re talking about retail prices, but I go to yard sales specifically because they aren’t retail locations. If I wanted to pay retail prices, I would go to stores on Saturday mornings.
I found myself simply shrugging and saying to her, “Well, I’ll be honest, that’s all I have on me.”
“Well, there’s an ATM at the 7-Eleven down the road on 111. I’ll be here.”
Now, this is where I draw the line. I’m not going to leave a sale to go to an ATM just to afford someone’s inflated prices. I’ll just be blunt. If you want to sell things at your yard sale for store prices, go get a store, or sell it on eBay.
I shook my head and said, “No, that’s alright. If you’re willing to split it up, there might be a few things I want, but at that price I can’t take everything.”
“Sorry, my husband and I want it all gone. Maybe you know someone who would come by and buy this stuff from me?”
“I’m gonna be honest with you, ma’am, nobody I know would buy this stuff from a yard sale for the same price they could get it at a store, where it would all be cleaned, tested, and refurbished if necessary.”
“My son took very good care of his things,” she retorted.
“If that’s true, then he was a man after my own heart, but nobody I know, myself included, would want to take the chance.”
She became indignant and slammed a foot down onto the floor of the shed, putting her hands on her hips again and leaning forward slightly. “Then why are you here?”
“Well…I’m looking for deals, ma’am.”
“Fine,” she spat. “I’ll do $250.”
“That’s still out of my budget, I’m sorry. I’ll just be on my way, I’m sorry to have bothered you.”
As I left her estate sale, she called after me, “I doubt you’ll ever find anyone selling things like this for chump change, young man!”
Alright, lady. Tell that to the two Power Gloves (with sensors) that I got for $10 and the giant Commodore computer lot (worth almost $900) that I got for $40. There’s a reason I do what I do.
After her sale, the other five I visited were all the same—no videogames.
That evening, though, I spied that someone on Long Island Retro Gaming (one of my favorite Facebook groups for collecting in my area) had posted a few Nintendo 64 games for sale, among them a copy of Mario Kart 64.
I suppose it’s finally time to tell this story. I owned tons of N64 games as a kid, but lent a large amount of them to someone I considered a friend in 2008. He never returned them to me, even after months, and when I pressed, he threatened to turn our friend group against me by lying and making things up about me. At the time, I wish I had had more resolve to stick it to him and demand my games back, telling my other friends in the process about his diabolical plot to keep them from me, but I was feeble and had few friends. I refused to take the chance, and instead relented to his scheme.
I could have decided no longer to be friends with him over his betrayal, but I would have lost my games forever. At least I would still be able to play them if I continued to see him. But then it hit me.
This friend of mine had a caveat: He was the single most unkempt and disorganized person I had ever met. Any time our friend group convened at his place, he had lost something new. A lot of times, those things were his videogames.
And thus, I devised a scheme of my own.
Over time, I continued to visit his home under guise of friendship. Each time I visited, I clandestinely pocketed a single N64 game of mine. He was none the wiser, as he always assumed he was misplacing them. On occasion I even heard him mention he had misplaced a game that I had taken. In the span of a year, I reclaimed every game he had extorted from me, with the exception of two, Mario Kart 64 and Rampage World Tour, which he actually lost on his own. When finally I had those games back in my possession, I made two vows: one never to be friends with him again, and another never to lend out my videogames again.
Back to Saturday
I messaged the seller asking how much he was asking for Mario Kart 64, as there was no price listed. He responded rather quickly, saying, “Is $35 okay?”
$35 was more than okay, as I’d seen it go for upwards of $50 at most retail stores and conventions. But, uh, I’m me, so I asked if he’d consider $30. He obliged, and we made plans for me to pick it up from him in Mastic the following day. Coming from Islip, it would be about a 35-minute drive, but I was up for it.
Sunday, February 3rd, 2019
Early the next morning, I awoke and got in touch with this gentleman again, whom I’ll call Green from here on out. Around 10 AM, we agreed on a time of 3 in the afternoon for me to drive out to grab the game.
I busied myself for the rest of the morning, and around 1 PM, Green messaged me and said, “Hey, if you can come right now to pick up the game, I’ll do $25. I need the cash.”
Needless to say, I zipped on down there.
The drive wasn’t too terrible; no drive really is for me, as I find driving peaceful. Plus, I have my MP3 player hooked up to my car and it’s eternally on shuffle, playing not only some of my favorite bands and artists, but also tons (and I mean tons) of videogame tunes. There might be more videogame music on that thing than standard commercial music.
When I arrived, I had barely taken three steps from my car when Green came running down the rather large flight of wooden steps in front of his house. With a satisfying final leap off the bottom stair, he landed before me and presented the game, saying, “Hey, hey. Here ya go.”
“And here you go,” I said, flashing the $25. “Thanks for the extra deal,” I added. “You don’t usually see the seller go down.” We swapped the money for the game.
“Don’t mention it. Drive safe,” he said shortly, then turned and headed back up the stairs.
That evening, to celebrate adding another piece of my childhood back to my collection, I called my buddies Joe and Dustin to see if they wanted to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Dustin was busy, but Joe accepted. He came by my place, but I had forgotten to tell him to bring a controller for himself. I hesitantly asked if he had.
“No,” he said. “Do you not have any others?”
“I mean, we could use a Joy-Con each, but that’s all I have, still.”
“Still?” he said. “I’d have thought you’d have a Pro Controller for your Switch by now.”
“I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Plus they’re kind of expensive.”
“Do you have any disposable money right now?”
Joe continued, “Let’s go to Target and you can pick up a Pro Controller. You won’t regret it, expensive as it is.”
I sighed but knew Joe was right. In the long run, I’d be way happier not only owning a Pro Controller, but using one as well. It just feels so much better in the hands than the Joy-Con grip does.
We took our leave and went to Target as Joe had suggested. In vain I sought one of the cooler Pro Controllers, but they only had the traditional black one in stock. I relented and bought it, knowing fully well I would eventually own every variation (that’s my goal for everything, I suppose).
As we turned to head for the electronics department register, my eye caught their Nintendo 3DS game library, which had suddenly been discounted just a few dollars, likely in light of the 3DS’s dying support from Nintendo in favor of the Switch. I took the opportunity to finally get a brand-new copy of Pokémon Ultra Sun, since I neglected to pick it up when it launched—and still hadn’t.
Satisfied with my purchases, we finally played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and I was immensely happy with the day’s events.
Wednesday, February 6th, 2019
Over the months leading up to February, I had come into quite a few doubles thanks to a few old acquaintances who were just trying to get rid of stuff. I never keep doubles unless they’re version or label variants, so this pile of stuff that I had was to be sold off or given away to a collector friend.
All of my friends had no use for them, so I opted to take a trip to the Video Game Trading Post, a retro game store in Levittown, about a half hour west of me. Of all the secondhand game stores on Long Island, the Trading Post has by far the best prices, friendliest employees, and most enthusiasm about collecting.
I headed in and met with Sal, with whom I’ve dealt numerous times. He lit up and immediately recognized me, since I’m the Punch Card Guy. Yes, I’m literally the only customer who owns a rewards card for VGTP. The owner, Mike, made one for me before they officially started their rewards program, and then they just…never rolled out the program. True to his word, though, he always honors the only existing card—mine—and even when I reach the requisite amount of punches on the card for a free $20 credit, he makes me a new card, even though he doesn’t have to. What a dude! I’m on card number three now!
I traded my doubles in with Sal for store credit and used it right away to grab their wonderful-condition copy of Harvest Moon 64, yet another N64 game for this month. It was priced $50, not terrible for retail, but with only $40 in credit, Sal did me a solid and let me just take the game without an extra $10 out of pocket. That place is so lovely. If you live on or near Long Island, go there.
Monday, February 11th, 2019
As luck would have it, Green, the gentleman from my Mario Kart 64 transaction, put another sale post up on Long Island Retro Gaming just a few days later on the 11th. Two more Nintendo 64 games, too! This time, the games were Mario Golf, a game I used to rent a lot in my childhood, and—oh, Mylanta—Rampage World Tour!
Knowing fully well that this was the final game to complete my collection of N64 games I owned as a kid, I scrambled to send Green a message. He recognized me and we made plans to meet that evening sometime between 8 and 9 PM in Mastic again. For only $20, I would own these two wonderful parts of my single-digit years.
But this time would prove to be quite different from our last encounter. I sent him a message roundabout 8:10 to let him know I was on my way, and I heard back from him rather quickly, saying he’d see me at 9. When I arrived, though, things took an admittedly weird and frustrating turn.
At about 8:45, I parked and walked up the familiar wooden steps to his door, and knocked. No answer. I knocked again. No answer. I searched in vain for a doorbell but found none, and so I took to Facebook Messenger to let him know I’d arrived. He did not answer, nor did it display that he had even viewed the message.
Again I knocked, louder and louder each time, until finally I sent him another message. I waited entirely too long, nearly twenty minutes, in the freezing cold in the dark of night, just for some N64 games at a good price. Between each round of knocks was another message.
Those five minutes came and went, and I turned to leave the property and drive home angry. As I formulated my user review of Green for the Facebook group in my head, and what I would eventually have to say to him after this, I suddenly noticed someone coming out from the side entrance of the house and getting into a car.
“Excuse me!” I immediately shouted to this person, who was a young woman. The sudden shout startled her, and I made haste to apologize and explain that I was not a serial killer.
I continued, “I’m here to see [Green], is he here?”
She seemed confused, which made sense, because her response was, “Uh, yeah, he is. Did you knock?”
“On and off for the last twenty minutes. He told me to meet him here, I’m picking something up from him.”
“Give me one second,” the young woman said as she walked back into the house. About a minute later, the front door finally opened, revealing this young woman again and a very, very disoriented and tired Green. She let me in and I said a curt hello to Green.
“Sorry about that, man,” he began.
“It’s fine,” I said, still kind of miffed. “What happened?”
He laughed tiredly. “I sent you that message about seeing you at 9 and then I hit my blunt and just passed out, man.”
“Well, I’m just glad I didn’t have to leave,” I said, judging him not for his vice but rather for his choice of timing.
With few other words exchanged, we did our deal and I left $20 poorer but with both games in my possession. As I got in my car, another Facebook message from Green popped up, reading, “Hey, man, I’m really sorry about that again.”
I forgave him and drove home, just happy to have gotten the games I drove all the way there to pick up.
Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
It must have been a bad month for some people, because yet another sale on Long Island Retro Gaming took place, this time a fire sale! Heavily discounted games? Sign me the heck up!
A different guy this time was selling quite a lot of stuff, and for $10 total, I claimed Star Wars Episode I: Racer (another N64 game!) and the Player’s Choice variant of Super Mario All-Stars for Super Nintendo.
I drove out west to meet him at his place in Jericho and brought Dustin along for the ride, as we’d made plans to grab something to eat thereafter. Strangely, without even getting out of my car, I was recognized by him upon parking and he sidled up to Dustin’s window. Dustin did the transaction for us and exchanged my $10 for the two games. We thanked each other and said not much more, as he mentioned quickly that he was very busy and had to head back inside.
After dinner with Dustin, I slid All-Stars onto the shelf, right next to Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World, the updated version of the cartridge and also the very first videogame I ever owned. In fact, it’s still that same cartridge from when I opened up my brand-new Super Nintendo in 1996.
In that moment, I felt a small tingle of satisfaction and realized that I had truly revisited the infancy of my videogaming hobby. I took a photo to commemorate the admittedly emotional moment.
The month in review:
February was truly the Month of 64. I picked up five Nintendo 64 titles in a single month, on three different occasions. One step closer to finally closing that gap and finishing that console’s library!
Thanks for sticking with me through this installment of This Yard Has Saled. In the next installment, I’m joined on my collecting journeys by an unlikely guest—my mom! Here’s to hoping that one won’t come out nearly as late as this one did! Forgive me; my computer’s hard drive blew up.
If you want to watch me talk about these games, their history, and more of my thoughts with more emotion (and swearing), check out this YouTube video of my February 2019 pickups. Until next time!