This Yard Has Saled #5: Thrifting with Mom

Authentic, factory-sealed storytelling.

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This article contains some strong language and some sensitive subjects

If you’re here, it means you probably want to be. Am I right in assuming that?

Well, whether I’m right about that or not, I can at least correctly state that, if you’re here, you’re currently reading another exciting installment of “This Yard Has Saled”, the GameCola column where I talk about the misadventures and difficulties associated with videogame collecting! If that doesn’t sound interesting to you, then I don’t know what will!

This time around, I’m lumping together the months of March and April 2019, mainly because, well, I didn’t get a whole heck of a lot in April due to family and financial difficulties. With that being said, enjoy this technical two-monther!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2019

I awoke early this morning because I had plans to hit a couple of yard sales alone. My usual yard saling posse of friends, Joe and Dustin, had called in tired, leaving me to find the deals on my own.

As I hastily made my way to the kitchen to hydrate for the upcoming few hours, I noticed that my mom was sitting at the family computer, tapping away and writing up a Facebook comment or two. Not wanting to go out alone this morning, I decided to throw caution to the wind and ask Mom if she would accompany me on my Saturday adventure, pretty much expecting a no, given that she isn’t particularly interested in videogames.

But to my absolute surprise, Mom said she would go with me! She wasn’t too keen about the idea of going from house to house, so I compromised and we would go to a couple of thrift stores and then I’d drop her off home before I made my traditional yard sale rounds. And so, off we went!

Our first stop was the Savers in Holbrook right near my hometown of Islip, New York. They have a dedicated section for videogames, so I went right for it and was able to find jewel-cased copies of Half-Life (Game of the Year edition) and Quake II for Windows 98, and (despite my better judgment) a complete copy of Madden NFL 97 for PlayStation. I’m not the biggest fan—or a fan at all, really—of sports games, but hey. They’re videogames, and I want everything because I have a sickness. Plus, each game was only $1.99, so I had no real reason to say no.

Mom knows that fact about me pretty well, though. When I picked the Madden off the shelf, shrugged, and put it under my arm to keep looking, she said, “A football game? You don’t like football.”

“But I like videogames,” I said, smirking at her. She rolled her eyes, as moms do, but I’d be lying if I said I disagreed with the eye roll.

Stop looking at me like that!

From Savers we ventured to Commack for a tiny romp at their Goodwill, where I was lucky enough to find complete copies of Pokémon Battle Revolution for Wii and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn for PlayStation 4. I had the latter on PC already but had been considering biting the bullet and picking up a console copy to better play online with my friends, since my computer (even after recent repair) is still a piece of crap. Thanks to this find, I saved literally every last cent possible, since Mom was nice enough to buy the pair for me! Thanks, Mom!

But Mom knew well that there were more Goodwills on Long Island than just the Commack one, so we turned around and headed eastward to Ronkonkoma.

On the way, though, I spied a yard sale as we were passing through a neighborhood toward the highway, and asked Mom if she wouldn’t mind my stopping to take a quick look, since it was right there. She didn’t mind, though she said she preferred to stay in the car.

After parking, I walked up to the yard sale, and the family of four—mother, father, and young boy and girl—greeted me happily. I greeted them back with my typical “How do you do?” and then asked the age-old question: “You wouldn’t have any videogames for sale, would you?”

The mother turned toward the young boy, who couldn’t have been older than eight or nine, and asked, “You didn’t want to get rid of your Xbox stuff, did you?”

The boy shrugged and said to me, “Do you like Xbox stuff?”

I smiled, retorting, “Sure I do! Are you okay with selling your stuff, my dude?”

He just nodded silently, then turned to his mother and said, “Show him the Xbox stuff,” matter-of-factly.

His mom laughed and asked if I wouldn’t mind stepping inside their home for a few moments, as it would be easier than lugging everything outside. I obliged and walked inside, noticing nearly every inch of their home covered from wall to wall in taped-up cardboard boxes. This wasn’t just a yard sale, it was a moving sale.

I’ll take this small opportunity to say that, although it’s never guaranteed, a moving sale is usually a more likely avenue to find deals than a traditional yard sale, because the hosts are downsizing in order to more comfortably fit their belongings into their new home. Typically, anything that isn’t sold will simply be trashed, so don’t be afraid to haggle to get a better deal. Chances are they’re going to give their stuff to you for pocket change just so they don’t have to be bothered with throwing it away.

The mother led me to their living room, where the TV stand and all of its components and items were still arrayed appropriately and had not yet been boxed. She opened a drawer and revealed an original Xbox with probably twenty or so games, just sitting there with a thick layer of dust on them (despite having been in a drawer).

“You play Xbox?” she asked me.

“Not as often as other things, but yes, I do!” I said cheerfully.

“What do you think for the whole lot, then? If Brett is okay with it, then we can just get rid of this stuff.”

“Well, I don’t want to impose,” I said, knowing this was her son’s setup. I would much rather hear what price she (and maybe even her son) thought was appropriate.

She thought for a moment and then said, “Twenty dollars?”

I smiled, actually, and said, “That’s honestly not a bad price at all. I would totally do that, but in truth, I don’t actually need all of this stuff. I’d maybe only want a couple games, but that’s a great price if someone else comes along.”

“Oh, okay,” she said, not disappointed, but instead happy that I said I’d take anything at all. “Which games did you want?”

I picked out and dusted off Brute Force, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003, and a Platinum Hits copy of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, turned to her, and said, “I think just these three!”

She immediately said, “Is six bucks okay?”

I said, “Actually, I was thinking more like three, if that’s cool. You can still get $20 for everything even without these three games!”

She seemed genuinely surprised and simply said, “Alright!” before I opened up my wallet to hand her the $3—in the form of a one-dollar bill and a two-dollar bill.

“Whoa, a two-dollar bill,” she said, surprised again. “I didn’t think anyone still carried these around.”

“Oh, you can just ask for them at the bank. It’s easier than carrying around singles. Saves some space.”

“Mommy, did you say that’s a two-dollar bill?” her young daughter, who had followed us into the house, inquired.

“Yeah!” the mother responded. “A lot of people don’t use them, but they’re real! That’s probably why you’ve never heard Mommy or Daddy talk about them.”

“Can I see?” the son asked his mother.

“I’ll leave you guys to it,” I said, chuckling. “Have a good day!”

They all said some form of “Goodbye!” in unison and I left, with my last image of their family being a quick glance of the young boy reaching up to his mother for the two-dollar bill.

Mom and I made it to the second Goodwill in Ronkonkoma and spent a few minutes looking at VHS tapes and reminiscing about my childhood before we headed to their videogame section.

Unfortunately, this Goodwill in particular has gotten pretty bad about their pricing practices on videogames, opting to price items based on Internet searches. As such, I walked away with only one item: a Game of the Year edition copy of LittleBigPlanet for PlayStation 3, for which they wanted $3. Not unreasonable, I thought.

I dropped Mom off home afterwards and continued on my yard saling adventures. With about $20 left to spend for the day, I came across a rather large sale right in my hometown with tents, balloons, and a DJ set up. After walking up and eavesdropping on a few conversations while I looked around, I deduced that it was a combination family yard sale and get-together for a birthday.

It looked as though there was nothing here, but as I turned to leave, I spotted them out of the corner of my eye: three sealed Nintendo Switch games.

I hastened to pick them up and perform an elaborate examination to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. After careful scrutiny, I determined these were real, factory-sealed copies of Kirby Star Allies, Splatoon 2and Sonic ForcesPractically shaking, I approached one of the hosts and asked about the games.

“Excuse me,” I said, “how much are you asking for these?”

“Now, I gotta tell you,” she emphatically began, “I know fully well what these here are worth.” My heart sank. “But!” she continued, “My lazy son ain’t played ’em, ain’t even opened ’em, so to hell with it. Fi’ dollars each.”

I said nothing, no words at all, and opened my wallet to give this woman $15. No haggle necessary. The shock was too much.

I immediately drove back home, declaring yard saling done for the day. Mom was at the computer again and asked, “That was fast, nothing doing?”

Foaming at the mouth, I said, “Everything doing,” flashed the games, and waited for a response. Mom just shrugged, said, “Good job,” and continued her Facebooking. I ran to my room to brag to my buddy Tyler about it through Snapchat.

Eat your heart out, GameStop.

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Every now and again I really enjoy spending time at my Grandma’s place just to relax and watch television. I enjoy hearing her stories of the past, conversing about our opinions, and eating the home-cooked meals she prepares for me each time I visit.

Our hangout lineup is relatively simple: dinner with Grandma, followed by a two-hour block of television, featuring (in order) Mama’s Family, ABC World News Tonight, Jeopardy!, and Wheel of Fortune. The latter two are our favorite programs to watch together because we love to shout out the answers and calculate how much theoretical money we would have won at the end of each show. Grandma insists that I’m smarter than half the contestants on these shows, but she’s just buttering me up because she’s damn right.

Ahem. Anyway, on this evening, as Wheel was wrapping up, I opened LetGo, a website and Craigslist-type app for smartphones that I’ve discussed in this column before. As I scanned the marketplace for videogames, I was surprised to come across a listing for—wouldn’t you know it—Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary Edition and Wheel of Fortune: Junior Edition for NES!

I was so flabbergasted that I showed Grandma, who said, “Oh, God, that’s such a crazy coincidence! Are you gonna go get them or what?”

I made haste to pick them up immediately. The seller lived relatively close to Grandma’s place, so I was there in fewer than ten minutes. As I walked up to his stoop, I caught sight of him through the screen door and he walked over to greet me. With few other words exchanged besides our hellos and grunts about money, I paid him the $4 he wanted and left with the ABC weeknight game show lineup.

Friday, March 30th, 2018

I had about two hours of free time before my errands for the day had to begin, so I thought to try Savers again to see if anything new had shown up.

As I scoured the games, I saw relatively nothing of value, but decided on a whim to pick up a pretty roughed-up copy of Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams for PlayStation 2. Even if discs are scratched up the butt, I will still take a chance for a low price simply because a scratched disc does not mean a ruined one. My copy of Crash Bandicoot: Warped might as well be a record on a DJ’s turntable, but lo and behold, it works 100% of the time. Savers was asking only around $3, so I saw fit to give it a chance.

Despite all the scratches and scuffs, it works absolutely fine.

Moving over to their general electronics section, I was on the hunt for consoles and accessories. While there weren’t too many things of note, I did find a great-condition Wii Classic Controller and a shiny Halo 4-themed Xbox 360 controller. Each was labeled $3, so I bought them posthaste. Not being as big into Microsoft’s consoles as the others, I knew practically nothing about the worth of the controller. Thus, I was surprised to find out that it’s worth anywhere from $30-40 used, which made me jubilant.

Sunday, March 31st, 2018

I usually don’t go yard saling on Sundays because, plainly, there is a lot of collecting competition where I’m from, and if you’re not out and about on Saturday, you miss all the good stuff. But this weekend, Joe and Dustin asked if I would consider Sunday instead, since they would both be busy the day before. I obliged. Although we collectively didn’t find too much, there are still stories.

The first house we hit up was hosted by a woman wearing all black and sporting black sunglasses, who answered most questions in an exasperated and long-winded manner. As Dustin and I sifted through some CDs, where I found a complete copy of Putter Golf for PlayStation, we overheard someone ask this woman about the power tools in her garage.

Her response was, “Oh, yeah, my fuckin’ ex-husband didn’t take them with him after he left. Let me know what you want and I’ll think of a price.”

Taken aback, the dude who asked just said, “Uh, sure,” in a tone we took to be slight shock.

I grabbed Putter Golf and approached the woman, asking, “Excuse me, how much for this?”

She wiped her brow and said, annoyed, “Uh, a dollar, yeah, that’s fine, a dollar.” I handed her a dollar wordlessly and she said, again seemingly annoyed, “Yeah, thanks.”

We made our way to other sales but turned up empty-handed. The last sale we visited made us retch, though; they were not only selling obviously resealed Xbox 360 games for the full sealed price, but there was a tub of bootleg DVDs of movies and anime being sold for $20 each. I’m not joking.

We left as soon as we could.

I don’t know the rules for selling bootleg movies and the like at yard sales. It’s not my area of expertise, but I can only assume it’s frowned upon by film collectors and regulars alike. But I definitely know that, in the collecting community, selling a resealed game as though it is factory-sealed is just about one of the most heinous and evil things you can do. Part of being a collector is knowing what each factory seal looks like for each console’s games, but that wouldn’t be so important to know if jerks like this guy weren’t out here trying to pass off used merchandise as brand-new. Not only is it bad form, but it’s technically illegal, since you’re lying about your product and deceiving your buyer.

Don’t do this.

Friday, April 5th, 2018

Early this morning, I saw a post on my favorite retro collecting Facebook group, Long Island Retro Gaming, from Mike, a friend of mine and the owner of the Video Game Trading Post here in Levittown. He was selling a Sega Pico in the box, no inserts.

I fortunately already own a Pico, but didn’t have the box, so I messaged Mike to ask whether he’d consider parting with just the box for $10. He agreed heartily and I drove out to Levittown that night, accompanied by Joe and Dustin, who agreed to come for the ride just to hang with me. What guys, lemme tell ya.

I walked into the Trading Post and claimed the box from Dan, an employee, to whom I showed my Facebook chat with Mike to verify the sale. Before I left, though, Dustin nudged me and said, looking at some N64 games, “So how many games do you own now?”

“1,499,” I said, knowing the exact amount thanks to the Backloggery. Suddenly it dawned on me. This was the perfect moment to claim my 1,500th videogame. I was surrounded by friends on a lovely spring evening at my favorite game store on Long Island. This would be it.

I wanted it to be a game for a console I have admittedly too few games for, so when my eye fell upon Pokémon Stadium 2 for Nintendo 64, I knew I had to have it. Together, I paid $40 for the box and the game. Joe and Dustin clapped faux-enthusiastically when I announced the acquisition of my 1,500th game. Those losers.

The typical “guy and his 1,500th videogame” photo that every kid posts on social media.

The month(s) in review:

It was admittedly strange to be out collecting with my mom, simply because she’s just not into the same things I am—but when you have a familial bond with someone, it can be fulfilling to spend time in each other’s company while doing what you do for yourself, just having them along for the ride. It made me happy to spend time with Mom, even if she rolled her eyes at me a lot. Thanks for getting me a couple of those games, too, Mom!

Other than that, I think March was a very good month for finding secondhand games! I wish I’d had more of an ability to get things in April, but every now and again, stuff just happens.

Thankfully I struck gold a billion times in May, and even finally got myself one of those “girlfriends” people keep talking about! Whoa!

I can’t wait to talk about our adventures yard saling together in the next installment of “This Yard Has Saled”! Thanks again for reading!

Anchors aweigh!

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About the Contributor

Since 2018

Matt has been playing videogames since he first handled a Sega Genesis controller (and subsequently a Super Nintendo controller) in 1996, but now his life has spiraled out of control and he's a videogame collector and historian. Gaming is a gigantic part of his life, and trust me, he makes sure everyone knows it.


  1. Thanks again for this feature, keep them coming! Dug your sessions of game show watching with your grandma. The Wheel/Jeopardy block was a staple in my family for many years too! That OG Xbox find with a $2 was also entertaining. I was out on a run earlier this year during our city’s local spring cleanup week and could not help but notice a dresser drawer on the curb filled with several OG Xbox games, it was mighty tempting to peruse them but I could not bring myself to it.

        1. Spoiler for the eventual June installment, but I recently was given two NESes by someone whose friend is a garbage collector. He found them curbside. Brought them home, cleaned them up (they were disgustingly dirty), and they worked without incident. Traded them in to a trusted secondhand store and got credit towards some awesome additions to my collection!
          Some people just throw away valuable history! :X

          1. Badass, congrats on being brave to clean a curbside-NES and a killer trade for it! What does a NES get for trade in credit these days?

          2. Well…I took a shower afterward, haha.
            Trade-in credit always differs based on store, but I brought it to my favorite retro store in my area. I know the owner and he’s always been good to me. I got $45 in credit for both of them!

  2. I haven’t had a ton of successes lately, though I did manage to pick up the Windows 95 classics “Reelect JFK” and “PYST” for 25 cents each recently, which I’m EXTREMELY proud of.

    Also, Mom-yardsaling is best yardsaling, because sometimes she’ll still buy you things, even if you’re 34 years old 😀

    1. I’m 27 myself, and Mom is definitely a helping hand when I don’t have disposable cash left during an outing, haha.

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