I’m nothing if not a religious man, which means I’m familiar with all 11 Commandments. As such, I already know what you’re thinking, and clearly you’ve forgotten the final, oft-omitted, and arguably most important one: Thou shalt collect a butt-ton of videogames. I know my stuff, trust me.
And what better time to collect a butt-ton of videogames than this past May?
As stated in the previous installment, May was special for me not just because of videogames, but because I started dating someone, and you know what that means. 😉
Someone to collect videogames with! Oh, boy!
Some Radical Backstory
Sometime back in April, my buddy Dustin’s girlfriend, Zoey, called me up to tell me she would be flying into Long Island from Buffalo to visit Dustin on May 1st. Always excited to see Zoey, I was ecstatic and started to ask about plans they had and whether we’d hang out together, maybe with Joe also.
Zoey put the answers to these questions on hold with a question of her own: “Would you be able to pick me up from the airport when I fly in? Dustin’s boss is being an asshat and he can’t take off to come get me.”
“Yeah, of course!” I said, genuinely fine with the errand.
I made my arrangements with Zoey and went about my business that day, but then my mother informed me not two hours later that she needed me to take her to the same airport on the same day for a business trip. The gears worked themselves silly in my head before I finally exclaimed, “Yo! This means I can take you to the airport and get Zoey in one fell swoop!”
I made the final arrangements and the day arrived.
Wednesday, May 1st, 2019
Warm, sunny, and slightly breezy is my favorite kind of weather, and I got to enjoy it this lovely spring morning as I hopped in the car with Mom. After dropping her off at John F. Kennedy International Airport here in Queens, I waited in the parking lot and within a half hour, I received the awaited call from Zoey and hastened to meet her at baggage claim.
Reunited after not having seen each other for some time, we hugged and headed back to my mom’s car, which she had let me borrow for taking her to the airport. As I lifted Zoey’s luggage into the trunk, she said happily, “So before we head back home, let’s stop by a game store or something! I’ll get you a game or two for picking me up.”
“You don’t have to do that!” I said, happy to have been offered but truly not wanting to be a burden.
“Shut up and take my games!” Zoey said, laughing.
“Ugh! Fine, but I’m not gonna be happy about it!”
“Yes, you are!”
“I know, I so am!” I said, ecstatic.
We drove to my favorite retro game store, Video Game Trading Post, which rests in Levittown on Long Island. Knowing fully well that I would be receiving a game or two for free thanks to Zoey, I decided to get something a little more uncommon or rare. As I perused their more expensive selections, I turned to Zoey and said plainly, “So give me a limit here so I don’t rob you of all your cash.”
Zoey thought for a moment and made her decision: “Well, not only did you pick me up, which cost you gas and your time, you have to hang with me for a while before Dustin gets off work.”
“You realize that’s not a burden in any way, right?” I said.
Ignoring me, Zoey continued, “So…let’s call it 50 bucks.”
“50 bucks!?” I shouted, scaring the staff a little, who jumped.
“Pick out some cool shit, yo!” Zoey said, putting a hand on my shoulder and physically turning me back to look at the games.
I settled on two Virtual Boy games (which doubled my otherwise paltry collection), Galactic Pinball and Mario’s Tennis, and a Nintendo 64 classic that I used to rent during my childhood, Chameleon Twist 2. Zoey forked over her money and I gave her a huge hug, thanking her a thousand times.
The evening of that same day, I came across someone on Long Island Retro Gaming having yet another fire sale. I claimed a few items for myself and made plans to fetch them just a couple hours later. As I was gearing up to leave, my buddy Mike—who owns Video Game Trading Post—messaged me on Facebook to ask if I wouldn’t mind also picking up the items he had claimed in the fire sale and delivering them to the store. They had already been paid for and Mike would shoot a message over to the seller to let him know what was going on, and in return, I’d be compensated with $10 store credit. I jubilantly obliged, happy to help out my friend and basically get a free game out of the deal.
I drove out to a restaurant I had never heard of, K. Pacho in New Hyde Park, to meet the seller, who introduced himself as Adam and handed me both my bag of things and Mike’s. I paid for my share and we shook hands as it began to rain. Getting into my car, I opened up my bag and spied the items I had bought for just $11 total: a Nintendo 64 Voice Recognition Unit, a red Game Boy Camera, and a Game Boy Advance e-Reader. I love collecting accessories just as much as anything else, and getting these out of the way made me incredibly blithe.
Saturday, May 4th, 2019
It was 9 AM and here I was, plopping myself into my car with Jackie to make our very first rounds yard saling as a couple.
Of the first few places we visited, one was a church rummage sale in East Islip, which, it seemed, was selling a lot of literal garbage. There were many things that just looked like they were falling apart, boxes without appliances therein, and tons of cracked glassware that wouldn’t have caught my eye even if they were fully intact.
Before I could give up and walk away, though, Jackie caught my attention and pointed out that there seemed to be more things for sale inside the church proper, so we made our way inside.
As I scanned some discarded items on plastic folding tables, Jackie half-shouted from a few feet away, “Matt, look at this!”
I swiveled around on my heels to see she was pointing not at a game, but at a flyer on the wall advertising an upcoming church activity.
“We should go to this sweet Christian pasta night!” Jackie said, chuckling.
“For a second I thought you’d found something important,” I responded, also laughing.
“Uh, I did,” Jackie pressed on. “It’s fucking pasta night.”
As we continued to look through trash, I spotted a plastic bag filled with cassette tapes, among which you can sometimes find games for the Commodore family of computers. Unfortunately, no such luck this time around. Putting the cassettes back, I continued my search until I finally came across a stack of Wii shovelware titles.
Most of them were missing the disc and/or the manual, but one of the games, a copy of We Ski, was fully complete. I opted just to grab that and paid a single dollar for it. Jackie was more excited than I was. She readied her phone camera and said, “Let me take a photo of your first find with me!”
We continued on, using the ever-trusted Yard Sale Treasure Map, and located a yard sale not far from where we had just been.
Among the standard yard sale fare of clothes, shoes, books, and housewares, the hosts of this sale were trying very hard to sell a quite large collection of paintings. Whether they were originals or prints was not for my eye to discern, for I cared more about the tub of DVD cases sitting out on a wobbly table.
Most of these things were actual DVDs, specifically what seemed to be every single title and spin-off in the Air Bud series, but there were a few Xbox 360 shovelware titles here and there. Finally, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a small red case: Mario Party DS.
Jackie noticed my haste to grab it from the table and stood beside me, excited, as I pried the case open to check the contents. Much to our chagrin, the game was missing, but the manual was at least present.
Jackie patted my shoulder consolingly, but I planned on getting the case and manual either way. Without the game, I could likely get the owner to part with it for a quarter and then buy the game loose later on to save money.
I approached one of the hosts and inquired about the case, opening it to show the lack of an actual game inside. Before I could offer a quarter, he responded, “Ah, yeah. I was gonna just throw that away. We can’t find the game anywhere.”
Rookie mistake, my man. Once you mention you’re going to throw something away, I’m just the kind of guy who will ask to just take it for free. And that’s exactly what I did. The host let me have the case and manual and I did a small jig of excitement on my walk back to the car with Jackie. And yes, later that night, I took a trip to East End Gaming in Oakdale and got the game loose for $7. Thanks a ton, guy who thought this piece of videogame history was garbage! It’s not.
Driving onward, we cruised through Sayville, where we saw a cat café called The Shabby Tabby. Having never been to one before, I made a note of it, and Jackie and I resolved to check it out at a later date.
With the thought of cats in our mind, we pressed on and came to a yard sale where all of the merchandise was under a tent in case of rain. Sure enough, it began to drizzle lightly, which only made Jackie and me more eager to find deals with less people out looking due to the weather.
This sale greatly piqued Jackie’s interest, as there were a lot of designer makeups for sale at what Jackie called dirt-cheap prices. I busied myself searching through a gigantic crate filled with Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3 games. Despite the abundance of titles, the only thing I needed from this treasure trove was a complete copy of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare for Xbox 360, for which I paid only a dollar. Jackie grabbed a ton of makeup and said to me as we reentered my car, “Look who else is gettin’ deals!”
As we continued to drive along to sale some yards, the sky darkened more and more and the rain started pounding against my windshield. I said to Jackie, “One more, I guess?”
“Sounds good,” she affirmed.
“Actually, a rainy day means we can also go thrifting if you want to,” I said, hopeful she would agree.
“Let’s do it!” she sang out, melting my heart.
Our final yard sale stop was one we found by chance, as we spied the sign for it on a telephone pole a few blocks away. As we pulled up, we saw the hosts laying large plastic tarps over all of their merchandise.
“Perfect,” I said aloud. “They’re packing up. They’ll probably give me really good deals just to take something and leave.”
We approached the sale and I caught the attention of one of the hosts, to whom I began, “Excuse me? I know you’re packing up and all, but—”
“We’re not packing up!” spat a second hostess from a few tables away. The words were terse and angry, like I had just insulted her newborn child.
“Uh, okay,” I said, turning toward Jackie to make sure I didn’t just make up how unnecessarily mad this woman was. “Do you have any videogames?”
“Videogames? No. No, we don’t. No,” this woman continued, still angry for some reason. Jackie and I mumbled some form of thanks and got back in the car.
“Is it just me or did that woman seriously yell at you?” Jackie asked.
“Going yard saling is a dangerous kind of journey, babe,” I said, acting all cool and stuff.
Since the rain was not letting up, we followed through with our plan to go thrifting. We hit up the Savers in Holbrook that I frequent and found wonderful-condition complete copies of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (the Greatest Hits version) and God of War for PlayStation 2. Jackie was ecstatic that we found the former, as she had grown up playing it and was happy we could play it together now. For both of them, I paid about $6, which isn’t terrible.
Despite having only hit one stop, we headed home when we saw that the weather was worsening. I was happy enough with what I had collected.
Tuesday, May 7th, 2019
On this day, I was hanging out with Jackie at her place when she mentioned casually that she had a few retro games that she and her brother hadn’t played in years. After asking his permission, she gifted the four of them to me. Three were common titles I already had: Yoshi’s Cookie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, and Batman, all for NES. I asked Jackie if she’d not mind my sending them to Tyler, who, upon asking, said he didn’t have them. She obliged and I set them aside for him. The fourth title was the elusive and critically panned Shaq Fu for Super Nintendo, which I unfortunately needed.
Jackie knew all too well about the game, and laughed at me as I looked directly into the eyes of Shaquille O’Neal. He seemed to say something as our glances met, but all I could hear was the screaming in the back of my mind.
Oh, the screaming.
Saturday, May 11th, 2019
Another Saturday, another round of yard saling!
Jackie joined me again and we headed immediately to a yard sale only two blocks from my Islip home. Their items were all scattered about, not organized in any particular manner, and many of them were just thrown out onto the grass in a disorderly and careless fashion. Among the grass lay a few things that caught my eye, though, so I knelt down to take a look.
Situated roughly in the middle of a bunch of DVDs and office supplies was a complete uDraw Studio Instant Artist bundle for Xbox 360. Checking inside the box, I affirmed that the drawing tablet, instructions, and game were all inside, and the game itself was also complete. The folks hosting this sale had price-marked everything and affixed a $5 sticker to the bundle. That honestly wasn’t terrible at all, but I always like to see whether I can get things cheaper than they’re priced. You know me. Plus, there was also a black Wii Classic Controller Pro sitting on the grass, marked $2, so a bundle deal was about to happen if I had anything to say about it.
I approached the two hosts, a man and a woman, with my two prospective pickups and asked, “Would you consider $3 for these two?”
The man looked over at the woman and then back at me. He pointed at the Instant Artist bundle and said, “This goes for, like, 25 bucks on eBay.”
Ah, “eBay”. The make-Matt-get-back-in-his-car word. I can hear it in my nightmares like the hiss of a snake about to strike.
The man said nothing else for several seconds. I broke the silence with, “I don’t understand.” I continued, slightly mad, “You have this marked at $5.”
“Right,” the man responded. “And it is $5. I’m just saying, I really don’t wanna come down off that price.”
I looked at Jackie to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I really heard this man mention eBay at his yard sale for basically no reason. I turned back and pressed on, saying, “Well, uh, would you consider $4 for both, then?”
The dude stuck his hand to his chin in thought for a moment, then said, “Yeah, alright.”
I paid, and we got back in the car.
“So, let me get this straight,” Jackie began. “He priced the items $5 and $2. You ask for $3 total, he says the tablet is worth 25 bucks on eBay. Then you ask for $4 instead and he says yes.”
“…Why did he even mention eBay?”
Please don’t talk about eBay at your yard sale. This has been a PSA.
One of the sales we visited this morning was an estate sale, and as we entered, a sign by the door caught our attention.
Spoiler alert: They didn’t have anything worthwhile. Also, most of the business was apparently being handled by a young girl. We spotted few adults in the whole place, if any at all.
We continued on our quest and came across three yard sales on one block. The first one had nothing to offer, and the second one’s host mentioned about nine times that he had games but wasn’t selling them, even though I only asked once. I guess he just really wanted to stick it to me.
But the last sale, hosted by four young women, proved to be lucrative. Their wares contained nothing of worth to my tastes, but I always ask, just in case.
I asked the age-old question: “You wouldn’t happen to have any videogames, would you?”
“What kind of videogames?” asked one of the women.
“Anything, really,” I said. “The older, the better, but anything is fine.”
One of the women asked me to wait a moment and then disappeared inside the garage. A few moments later, she came back with a stack of Wii games; they looked mostly like licensed titles and shovelware, but among the stack was Mario Party 8! Alright! I touched the front cover of the game with delight, knowing I would likely leave with it and not have to part with much money.
I turned back to the hostesses and asked, “How much for the games?”
“$2 each?” said the one who had retrieved the games for me.
Jackie chimed in and said, “Would you do two for $3?”
“Sure, why not?” the same woman replied.
“Thanks, honey,” I whispered. I looked over at the stack of shovelware, trying to decide on a second game to take home. Jackie sensed my indecision and grabbed iCarly, saying, “It’s probably the only one here you’ll play, even if it’s just to laugh at it.” I nodded and we bundled the games together.
As I paid for the games, Jackie asked, “Should I get a picture of these games together for GameCola?”
“Absolutely,” I said, putting my wallet away. “Just make sure you get a good shot of the more important one.”
After many subsequent yard sales proved fruitless, we decided to retire for the day and check out that cat café we had seen a week prior: The Shabby Tabby in Sayville. As we made our way there, we passed one final yard sale, and I glanced at Jackie wordlessly. She responded, “Oh, definitely, pull over!”
We stepped out of the car and walked up to the hostess of the sale, who was sitting in a porch chair placed on the driveway. Not wasting any time, I asked upfront if she had any videogames, to which she repsonded, “No, I don’t, sorry.”
Jackie and I both thanked her and turned to walk back to the car, but she called after us, “But I do have, like, a Nintendo console if you want that.”
We both turned back around quickly and I said, “Definitely, I’ll take a look!”
She went inside and returned a few moments later with a regular-model Nintendo Entertainment System. No hookups or controllers, but I already owned the thing, so none were needed. For the right price I could grab this and either give it to a collector friend or flip it for some more collecting money.
I inquired about the price and was met with a lovely, “$10.” I opened my wallet to pay her posthaste, but I noticed I only had $6 cash leftover after having gotten lunch. I told this unfortunate fact to the hostess, who surprised me by saying, “Oh, I’ll take $6, that’s fine!”
I forked the cash her way and walked away with a new NES, which, as it turns out, was in way better condition than the one I already had. I cleaned up my old one and gave it to Joe, who had been wanting one for a while. I had an extra controller and hookups, so I gave him a deal on the whole lot since we’re buds.
“Onward to cats!” Jackie shouted as we plopped back into my car.
I don’t make many amazing decisions in my life. Usually they’re pretty forgettable. But deciding to go to The Shabby Tabby was probably the best thing I ever did in my whole life. I met a kitten named Weston who refused to be held normally and then fell asleep slumped over in my hand.
Saturday, May 18th, 2019
More yard sales! Hell yeah!
Jackie tagged along yet again. Our first stop was a sale right near Islip. Jackie spotted a Toad Halloween costume strewn out over the grass, which I took to be a good sign that someone in this house plays Nintendo games.
I was right, as Jackie and I soon after discovered a pile of assorted Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance games. Most were loose, but some DS games had their cases and manuals, and some GBA games were stored in small Ziplocs with their manuals, too.
Darn, I thought. I have all of these games. Oh, except this one! I picked up a loose copy of Frogger’s Adventures: Temple of the Frog for GBA. Jackie picked up a complete Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story for DS. We approached the hostess and Jackie asked first about her prospective pickup.
The woman took the game into her hands and looked it over, saying, “Yeah, I tried to sell it earlier to someone for $25…” Jackie and I looked gravely at each other. “But I could come down a little, I guess.”
“Uh, how much were you thinking?” Jackie asked, and I could tell she was not hopeful.
“Well,” the woman said, opening the case and pointing to a very haggard-looking game card, “my dog bit it, so I probably could come down to, like, $12. No lower than that, though.”
Again Jackie and I met eyes, but much more quickly and pronounced this time. Jackie took the game back and said, “No, thank you!” before returning it to its original place. No longer hopeful, I stepped forward and asked about my own item.
“How much for this?”
The woman squinted to look at the tiny label in my hand. “Five dollars?”
I asked plainly, “Would you do a dollar on it? It’s really not worth that much.”
She nodded and said, “Yeah, sure, I guess,” so I paid her and we left. I didn’t want to spend another minute thinking about her prices for damaged goods.
A few sales later, I was asking a sale hostess about videogames when I had my attention grabbed by another patron of the same sale. Turns out he was out yard saling also, for the same purpose! We exchanged information and got into a discussion about our favorite YouTubers and games, and our favorite methods of collecting.
As we were talking about our adventures that day, he said, “Can you believe I was at this sale and a lady wanted 25 bucks for Bowser’s Inside Story?”
Jackie exclaimed, “Yo, we went to that same sale!” and explained our story to this gentleman. We all had a pretty good laugh about it.
As we talked, he let me in on a secret spot in Patchogue, which I’m sharing here in good faith, called Asset Recovery Liquidators.
“The place buys up items from foreclosed houses and storage units and sells them at insanely low prices because they don’t care what they have,” he spoke of it. “Go on a weekend and it’s 50% off everything in the store. Everything.”
I made a note of it on my travel pad. Jackie and I made plans to go there the first week of June.
As the day waned, we stumbled across sale after sale containing nothing of note. Finally, at the last sale of the day before we had planned to head home, I struck gold.
Jackie and I walked up the driveway and the two women hosting the sale greeted us warmly. Immediately, though, I sped over to a Sega Dreamcast and a stack of games—some complete, most not. The Dreamcast was complete with two controllers and all the appropriate hookups, but one of the controllers was the delicious-looking transparent red one. Before I could scoop it up to ask about it, though, Jackie whispered my name and pointed at something for me to see.
There, sitting out on the driveway, was a complete Pokémon Stadium bundle for Nintendo 64. I opened the box and checked inside. Everything was there: the game, the manual, the leaflets and offers, and even the Transfer Pak, all in magnificent condition and still covered in plastic. The box had seen better days, but the contents inside were glowing. And there, on the box, was a price sticker: only $5.
I grabbed it and the Dreamcast controller and asked the hostesses if they would do $10 for the pair. After some slight deliberation, they agreed, and I nearly wet myself as Jackie and I walked the items back to my car.
As we drove away, I was silent, smiling into the windshield. Jackie addressed me. “So…you happy?”
After a brief silence, I leaned my head back and screamed like an excited child.
Monday, May 27th, 2019
On this day, I found that my friend Phil had posted an item for sale on Long Island Retro Gaming on Facebook: a first-model Mattel Intellivision. And only for $25.
The catch? Untested, dirty, a couple wires poking out here and there, and a very noticeable rattling sound coming from inside the console. I already own a working Intellivision II (thanks to fellow GameCola staff writers Nathaniel and Shannon Hoover), and I had been looking for a first-model unit for ten years, so I figured I would take the chance for a fraction of its normal retail cost. If I couldn’t fix it, chances were Joe could, and if neither of us could, at least I’d have one working Intellivision and still be able to own both models. I told Phil I’d bite.
Jackie accompanied me to his Medford home and picked up the Intellivision. Upon getting it home, I saw that the misplaced wires were a really easy fix and the dirt could be easily removed. But what the hell was that rattling noise?
I grabbed a screwdriver and disassembled the unit, only to find…
Literal roasted peanuts.
Inside this Intellivision.
Jackie spoke first.
I was flabbergasted. Upon careful scrutiny of the console, Jackie and I deduced that these peanuts had to have been deliberately placed inside. There are no holes or vents on the Intellivision large enough to admit peanuts this size, except in the molding surrounding the controller bay, which only leads directly to the controller bay, not anywhere inside the console.
“If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed you,” Jackie continued.
I cleaned up the console, relocated all the hanging wires, and disposed of all the legumes. Upon giving the console its smoke test, it worked on the first try.
“There we go!” I shouted. “Look at that! First try!”
“And it just works!?” Jackie exclaimed. She looked right into my eyes. “That’s nuts.”
Friday, May 31st, 2019
After finishing up with my other goings-on for the day, I encountered some car troubles and made plans with my mom to take the car to be repaired the next day. As a way of cheering myself up, I decided to put that $10 store credit to good use and headed to the Video Game Trading Post.
Mike wasn’t in, but Melissa and Chris were, two employees I know well and of whom I’m quite fond. As usual, Chris was hanging out and just checking his phone while Melissa relaxed and watched whatever movie they had playing on the store TV. It’s a simple gig, especially when not many customers are coming in. It was a weekday, after all.
When I walked in, I was greeted warmly and smiled. I scanned the N64 display case and noticed their copy of Mario Party 2 had had its price slashed from $55 to only $40. I pointed it out and asked what was up.
“Believe it or not, a little earlier today, someone came in with a stack of Mario Party 2s,” Chris began. He laughed, “So, uh, now we gotta liquidate ’em!”
I laughed also. “Well, grab your best-looking copy, ’cause I’m in on that deal.” I put my store credit toward the purchase and went home with the final addition to my N64 Mario Party titles. Yesss.
The month in review:
This month took me by surprise. Any time I go out yard saling, I’m not expecting to find much. It’s that once-in-a-blue-moon moment that keeps me going, but I ended up finding a bunch of good stuff for pretty low prices.
Next month, I check out Asset Recovery Liquidators, that hot spot recommended to me by that other collector. Not to spoil you, but let’s just say there’s a reason he was eager to share it with me.
Thanks so much for reading all the way through this installment of This Yard Has Saled! I hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to seeing you back here next month!