This Yard Has Saled #7: Discovering Hidden Treasures

Sometimes you find garbage. Other times you find gold. This is other times.

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Believe me when I say that this installment of This Yard Has Saled will be like no other so far. June 2019 was such an amazing month for me for many reasons, but the most important one would definitely have to be a little store called Asset Recovery Liquidators. In the last installment, my girlfriend Jackie and I ran across another collector who was out yard saling, just like us. He told us about Asset Recovery the way most people try to convince you to do something.

“Dude, you have to go! Look at these pictures of stuff I found there!”

And believe me, his photos and stories of pickups were convincing, but it had been a long day. Jackie and I were exhausted by the end of it, and we wanted to just go home. I made a note on the travel pad I carry with me to hit up Asset Recovery sometime in the future. Jackie and I resolved nonchalantly to go there just to check it out, at the very latest, after the first yard sale outing of June.

Then June arrived.

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

“Oh, what fresh hell is this?” I said, unhappy to be waking up earlier than usual for yard saling.

Jackie was with me, and we made plans the previous night to be up much earlier in an effort to beat out some of the collecting competition that floats around Long Island. After last month’s plight and hearing again and again how “someone was just here and took everything I had,” I had grown admittedly frustrated that I was showing up just late enough to miss out on deals.

Instead of the usual wake-up of 9ish to be out by 9:30-10, we awoke at 8 to be out by 8:30-9. Our bodies were not happy.

“Let’s go grab some deals!” Jackie said, being optimistic. I nodded and we readied ourselves and hopped in the car around 8:45.

As usual, Yard Sale Treasure Map guided our way. The first two sales we visited yielded no results, but our third try was an incredibly lucky one. I spotted two sales on the same road, within a block of each other. I noticed the start time for one of them, 9 AM, and for some reason my brain processed that both sales had begun at that time. It was now 9:15, and we visited the first sale on that road, whose start time was actually listed at 10 AM.

Here’s the thing about early-birding. It’s not illegal and it’s not a bad practice, per se. If the hosts of the sale don’t want you on their property before the designated start time, they will tell you so. But if they don’t mind making a deal with a customer before the sale actually begins, then it’s not the buyer’s problem.

But some sale hosts consider early-birding to be intrusive and rude, to the point where a lot of sale descriptions on Treasure Map have “NO EARLY BIRDS!” plastered on the page more than one time. For this reason, despite the deals I would be losing out on, I opt not to early-bird and instead give people their solitude and privacy while they set up.

It is unfortunate, then, that Jackie and I happened upon this sale at 9:15 in the morning instead of 10. As we pulled over, Jackie and I looked over our shoulders at the near-barren driveway that this grand sale was to be held in.

Are they not set up yet? I thought to myself.

Surely enough, we exited the car and found that they were still lugging valuables, mostly furniture, from their home to the driveway for sale. Jackie and I shared a grimace and expressed dismay that we would be early-birding this sale, but since we were here already, I decided to just ask about videogames.

We were in luck! The woman who was hostessing the sale called to her husband, explained our wishes, and he disappeared into their house for around four or five minutes. Upon his return, we were presented with something magical beyond all explanation (at least, to me): an Atari Video Computer System (later known as the Atari 2600) complete in the box with two controllers and nine games. Three of the nine games were ones I wanted in my collection: Demons to Diamonds, because I didn’t already own it, and Pac-Man and Asteroids, because these copies had better labels than mine.

The Atari VCS sitting before me today was a model I already owned, the four-switcher, as it’s called by collectors, but I wanted the box and those games. At the very least, I could flip the things I had duplicates of for store credit at the Video Game Trading Post. So I decided to bite the bullet and ask how much everything would cost.

The gentleman who had so kindly gotten these items from his home for us, despite our being so early before his sale, looked at me and emphatically exclaimed, “Forty dollars!”

I looked back down at the items in front of me, swallowed hard, and looked back up. “Would you do twenty-five?”

Without hesitation, the gentleman said, “Yeah, alright!” in the same emphatic way.

On our way back to the car with my new items, Jackie said to me, “So? Good deal?”

I said nothing in response. Instead I unlocked the car, we got in, I started the car, and we drove away. Ten seconds into the drive, I screamed like a tiny child who had just gotten the biggest load of Halloween candy ever.

(Just an aside, but upon returning home later that day, I tested the Atari cartridges to ensure they were in working order to be traded in, and I noticed that, for some reason, the copy of Defender that I had gotten was actually the PAL version! The front label had no differences, but the end label had the tell. Just something cool I thought I’d mention.)

My copy on top, the PAL copy on the bottom.

Next up, we spied a yard sale that was in a small cul-de-sac behind the church in my town whose thrift shop I frequent. We pulled around the back and into the small neighborhood.

Right away, Jackie noticed six complete Nintendo DS games, which I looked over and immediately wanted; nothing fantastic, but also nothing I already had. However, I saw that this sale had a few cardboard boxes filled with miscellaneous electronic equipment, so I made haste to peruse each one before asking about the DS games. In a box containing a few antediluvian digital cameras and a litany of assorted cords and cables, I finally encountered something, which turned out to be Disney Princess for Game Boy Advance.

Continuing my box scouring, I found nothing else of note. I resolved, then, to flag down the hostess of the sale and proceed with my usual pricing inquiries.

“Excuse me, how much for these games here?” I said, pointing at the DS games.

“I was thinking two bucks apiece.”

“Would you do a dollar apiece? I’ll buy all of them.”

“Sorry, I just had someone here who tried to do the same and I said no to them also. Can’t just make exceptions starting now.”

Unfortunately I didn’t care enough to pay double what I wanted to just for these DS shovelware titles, so I instead asked about Disney Princess. Holding it up, I said, “Alright, then how much for this?”

“That thing? You can just have it.”

My brain short-circuited for a moment: So she won’t make a deal with me on the DS games, but she’ll just give me a GBA game for free. Makes perfect sense to me. Doesn’t matter, got game.

I thanked her and we left. In the car, Jackie said, “That makes two months in a row now that someone just gave you something for free.”

Turning to her, I replied, “This makes two months in a row that some strange force of light has been watching over me, I think.”

Our next stop took us to a yard sale a little further east, where a few cardboard boxes were lined with Wii shovelware titles that I already owned. I sifted through to see if anything else was of interest, and came across the Wii version of uDraw Studio. Sure enough, looking around, I found the tablet controller as well and asked the hostess what she had in mind for the pair. Luckily, she asked merely for $3.

Continuing on, Jackie and I stopped at a sale teeming with people. Before I could even express my dismay, Jackie said, “Oh, no, someone probably took all the games.”

“We still have to ask,” I said, not optimistic.

To my complete amazement, after looking around for a few moments, Jackie tapped me on the shoulder and brought to my attention two Game Boy Color games that I hadn’t noticed, Beauty and the Beast: A Board Game Adventure and Scooby-Doo!: Classic Creep Capers. The latter was a game I owned as a child and had misplaced, so I felt my eyes widen at seeing it again here.

Scooping them up, I asked Jackie where she had found them, and it seems they were hidden underneath some other junk items. It was complete luck that she had decided to move those items around, as they were of no interest to her.

Smooching Jackie, I thanked her for finding them and I looked around to try and find the host. With so many people buzzing about, it was admittedly difficult to discern which one was in charge here. Jackie and I idled for a few minutes, awaiting some sort of transaction so we could find the Receiver of the Cash.

Finally, we saw a man step out of the garage while saying to another customer, “I can’t find the remote, sorry. But if you still wanna buy the fan without it, I’ll knock off a few bucks for that.” Bingo.

This time, I decided to be a little more aggressive with my price inquiry. I approached the host and said, “Excuse me, would you do a dollar for both of these?” Unhesitatingly, he said yes, and I walked away one dollar poorer.

Finally, though, it was time. Jackie and I decided we’d had enough of driving around for the day, and we settled on finally checking out that secret spot in East Patchogue: Asset Recovery Liquidators.

Before I say anything at all about what transpired, I need to say something else. Everything we had been told by that other collector about this place led us to believe it was just some warehouse with a ton of garbage lying around, and that you’d have to go digging through it to find the games, if indeed there were games to be found. He told us that this place specialized in the purchase of items inside abandoned or foreclosed-upon houses and storage units. I expected it to be disorganized and for their items to be dirty and damaged.

With that being said, let me just show you a myriad of photographs so you can understand how taken aback we were upon entering.

The first thing you see when you open the front door. Those prices! Holy heaven!

So…yeah. Suffice it to say this place was organized (at least well enough) and had a ton of clean inventory.

Foaming at the mouth after reading the price guide hanging from the ceiling, I practically warped from the door to the display cases. Immediately I took note of their Sega Game Gear games and collection of complete Intellivision titles. But as I focused my attention on the items behind glass, Jackie wrangled my attention away to point up at something blue on the shelf.

There, seemingly glowing gold in the fluorescent light, was a complete-in-box Intellivoice Voice Synthesis Module for the Intellivision.

“We need to find an employee now.” I said these words as sternly as I could. I couldn’t run the risk that, even while we were here, staring at the antiquated add-on, someone would come buy it out from under me.

Jackie power-walked to the main desk and came back with an employee in tow, who greeted me warmly and asked what I wanted to get.

“I’d like that Intellivoice up there, please,” I said quickly but politely.

Finally someone buys that thing!” the employee said. “It’s been sitting up there collecting dust since I started working here!”

“Are you that new?” I said as he pulled the box from the shelf.

“No, I started here eight years ago.”

Eight years ago!?” I practically shouted.

This place really was a secret spot. With the amount of collecting competition on Long Island, that Intellivoice would have been gobbled up by someone immediately if people had known about this place. I was just lucky that the few who knew had decided they needn’t purchase the accessory for themselves.

“Not many collectors come here, you’d be surprised. We’re relatively unknown in the Long Island gaming community. I’ve been a part of it for years and still nobody ever talks about it.”

“Wait, are you a collector yourself?”

“That’s me,” the employee proudly said. “I’m even one of the organizers for the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo every year.”

“No way,” I said, astonished. “I attend every year! That’s so awesome!”

“So wait,” Jackie said, interjecting. “Then why haven’t you bought that?” She pointed to the Intellivoice.

“Oh, because I don’t need it,” he said. “I don’t collect that sort of stuff.”

I marveled at just how lucky we were.

After a little more conversation, my attention was drawn to the price sticker on the Intellivoice box, which read $40. That wasn’t terrible, but it was getting close to what I’d seen at retail, which was anywhere from $50-60.

Just passively, I said “Forty bucks, damn,” to myself, and the employee replied, “Oh, well, it’s 50% off.”

“…It is?”

“Yeah, it’s Saturday, we do 50% off everything in the store on weekends.”

My heart shot through my brain and blew a hole in the ceiling.

Before making my other selections of things to take home, I made it a point to get this man’s name, and he obliged. I’m proud to say that Jonathan is now a fine acquaintance of mine.

I scoured each display case carefully and finally made my selections: Columns for Game Gear, UtopiaStar Strike, and Reversi for Intellivision (the latter two being CIB), and a blue Game Boy Pocket. I wanted to get more, but I was on a budget. Altogether, not including the $20 price of the Intellivoice, these items cost me $16.

I shook hands with Jonathan and told him that we would return for sure. As we pulled out of the parking lot and headed home, I again belted out my trademark scream of delight. I hope Jackie can get used to it.

One last stop of the day led us to a thrift store we had been recommended to visit by my friend Phil: Island Thrift in Medford. Unfortunately, all of their games were shovelware and were also incredibly overpriced. We decided not to purchase anything, but I couldn’t leave without letting Jackie take a photo of me with a plush Foxy from Five Nights at Freddy’s.

You might be able to tell my opinion on the FNAF games just by looking at this photo.

Finally, the day was over. I got home and immediately tested the Intellivoice to make sure it worked, and boy, did it. Not only did it work, it was in mint condition, despite the fact that the box looked a little banged up. It was almost as if someone had never touched the actual item inside.

Oh, man, they look so good together!

Monday, June 10th, 2019

I usually save thrifting and yard saling for the weekends, but I was feeling particularly inclined to check Savers on this day out of sheer boredom. Jackie tagged along and we found a few crappy PlayStation sports titles to take home: NFL GameDay 98Madden NFL 2001NHL FaceOff 98, and MLB ’99. As I checked the discs for scratches, Jackie pulled a copy of Cooking Mama for Nintendo DS off the media rack and asked if I owned it. I didn’t, so I took it from her and thanked her for the find. Altogether, I paid a little over $5 after tax. Not bad!

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

After taking home the Atari VCS on the 8th, I unfortunately found that it didn’t work, and neither did one of the controllers I had purchased alongside it. Finally, on the 19th, I was able to take them both to my friend Joe’s place, where he has a makeshift electronics shop set up in his garage, since that’s one of his primary hobbies. Whenever I have trouble getting a game or console to work, one trip to Joe will more than likely solve whatever issues exist. Since I wanted to trade the VCS in to the Video Game Trading Post, I had to be sure it was in working order or they would not accept it. Furthermore, I would damage my credibility as a friend of the owner and a repeat customer by trying to turn in broken merchandise.

So, to Joe’s I went. I brought Jackie along, and even my friend Dustin came by to see the repair take place. I brought the console and controller inside along with a test game and a small color CRT television from the ’80s for hookup—my designated test TV. We disassembled the VCS first, taking care to handle the unit carefully, since the technology inside was more than 40 years old at this point. Joe found nothing wrong after multiple continuity tests.

As it turned out, the channel select switch on the board was ever so slightly pushed toward channel 2, in such a way that it looked like it was on channel 3 when viewed from outside the plastic casing of the console. This would explain why my test failed; I saw the switch from the outside of the plastic case, saw it was supposedly on channel 3, and so tested it on channel 3. Opened up, though, you could see that the switch was skewed a little and was actually resting on channel 2. I flipped it back to channel 3 and we performed another test, which proved the unit was in working order. Within the three minutes I spent fiddling with it to make sure it wasn’t just my imagination, Joe fixed the controller issue, which was just an unresponsive action button. I plugged it in and the four of us sat in front of the TV on the garage floor while I played E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the test game I had brought. Yes, I’m a masochist.

Thank you, Joe! I’m glad the side of your head finally made it into one of these articles!

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

With the Atari VCS repaired, I drove it down to the Video Game Trading Post with the two controllers and games I hadn’t kept for my collection. Since a trade-in of this exact type was fairly common, I only received $20, but it was worth it to me. I used the store credit to claim Robotron 64, a Nintendo 64 game that I had wanted for eight years but had kept on the back burner for so damn long. Finally!

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

This Saturday was a solo yard saling day. I woke up around 9 AM and headed out to find some deals. Unfortunately, not a single deal was had, and by 2 PM, I had given up hope.

I decided on a whim to visit the church thrift shop that I mentioned earlier, and although their selection was mostly mundane, I did find a pristine, complete copy of L.A. Noire for Xbox 360, for which I’d been looking. I wasn’t interested in it when it launched years ago, but after watching the Super Beard Bros. playthrough of it on YouTube (which has not a single dull moment in it at all and which I recommend greatly), I became enamored with the game and decided I wanted it. Luckily, for only $2, I was able to claim it as my own at the church thrift store. Yay!

Later that same day, Joe called me up to ask about Asset Recovery. I told him the details, as well as about all the technological doodads and tools they had. He flatly retorted, “Let’s go, right now.”

“Right now?” I said.

“Yeah, I wanna check out some of these deals!”

We zoomed back down to Asset Recovery Liquidators and I spotted a complete-in-box Trak-Ball Controller for Atari 5200. I already had the controller itself and the manual, but didn’t have the box. Jonathan was working again, so I asked if there was any way I could get his boss to part with just the box.

Jonathan disappeared for a moment to ask and came back with a disappointing no. Looking at the price on the box, $45, I wondered how I could make this work. Just like the Atari VCS earlier in the month, I’d have to buy everything together and then flip the innards to make my money back on the things I didn’t need. That wouldn’t be a problem, realistically, but I’d just have to go through the hassle, which I always deliberate on.

But you rarely ever see this box, I thought to myself, and it’s an expensive box when you do see it.

I asked Jonathan if his boss would consider coming down to $40 on the price. This way, after the 50% reduction for a Saturday purchase, it would cost me only $20. After some more discussion with his boss, I received a yes!

The box was a little worse for wear, but I gave it a good cleaning when I got home. The Trak-Ball Controller inside was in better condition than the one I had already, so I sold my old one for exactly $20, making the new complete one I had bought a total freebie. Especially since the complete price of that thing can go as high as $200 in a retail store, I’d say that’s a perfect success!

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

On this day, Jackie and I went on a double date with my friends Melanie and Brian, who had recently gotten engaged to be married. We went to a rather large carnival in a church parking lot that I had won four tickets to the week prior by answering a trivia question at a radio station’s booth at a Happy Together Tour concert in Westbury. Stranger things have happened, I suppose. While we were there, the four of us competed in a ball-rolling carnival game that Melanie won. She picked a Tails plush from the Sonic the Hedgehog series as her prize and gave it to me for no reason other than that she’s that radical. Thanks, Melanie!

After dropping Melanie and Brian off home, Jackie and I drove back to my place. I decided that would be the time to get a game from Target, for no specific reason, just because I wanted to. I hadn’t yet gotten Yoshi’s Crafted World for Nintendo Switch even though it came out months earlier, and Jackie had told me a few weeks beforehand that she would buy it for me whenever I wanted to get it. I begged and pleaded with her not to waste money on me, but she would have none of my modesty. When I made the call to buy the game on the 23rd, she said, “Shall I get it for you?”

I replied simply, “Yeah, I guess so,” in a faux-pouty voice. “Thanks for being so wonderful to me. Can I at least repay you?”

“No, you cannot,” Jackie said. “I love you.”

And that’s the story of how my girlfriend is radical. Oh, and also how I got Yoshi’s Crafted World from Target. Right.

Friday, June 28th, 2019

Similarly to the previous pickup, the 28th contained another visit to Target for me, since Super Mario Maker 2 launched on this day for Nintendo Switch. My mom was kind enough to pick it up for me since I didn’t have enough funds to make the purchase right away. Thank you, Mom!

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

On the 30th, Jackie and I were in New Jersey to visit her friends George and Sam, who’d had us over the previous night in preparation for a Sunday party with even more friends. We stayed overnight, and I got to know Jackie’s friends better.

Apparently she had told them a lot about how crazy of a collector I am, and this sparked the interest of not only George, but also Jackie’s friend Nikki, both of whom said they had things to give me before we could head back home!

Firstly, Nikki gave me a soft handheld carrying case bearing the word “SEGA”, which she said she found at a yard sale, of all places. “I was at a yard sale and I saw it and thought of you!” she said to me, and my heart melted. I thanked Nikki profusely, and when she asked me if I knew anything about the case, I gave her a brief history lesson on Sega’s handhelds.

Then George stepped forward and said he had “some consoles and games in the attic that [I] should have.” I pleaded with him, as I’m modest, not to do such a thing, but he waved me off and disappeared in the attic to grab the treasure trove of gaming items for me.

When he returned, he presented to me not one, but two Nintendo Entertainment Systems, and a bunch of games. For Super Nintendo, I received Fighter’s HistoryNHL ’94Madden NFL ’94NBA All-Star Challenge, and John Madden Football, and for NES, I received Rampage and the first-run label variant of Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt.

Not many people know about the variant on the left—the first-run label variant. It was replaced by the one on the right, the more common version, after only a short while on the market.

“How did you come to own these?” I asked, stunned.

“I have a friend who works in trash collection. He found these one day and just passed them on to me. I don’t need ’em. So take ’em!”

I gave George a big hug and accepted his generosity. I added, “I already own the NES, though. If you want to keep these two, you should.”

“Nah, just do whatever you want with them. You’ll do far more than I ever would.” So I resolved to put them toward new games by trading them in to the Video Game Trading Post, as usual.

Jackie and I thanked everyone, said our goodbyes, and left for home. On the drive back, I picked Jackie’s brain.

“Your friends do realize I’ve only been your boyfriend for, like, two months, right? Why are they suddenly being so generous?”

“They love you already,” she responded. “Face it, you’re awesome. Get used to it.”

“I guess I’ll have to,” I said, happy to be cared for.

The month in review:

Holy hell, June was crazy. Discovering Asset Recovery Liquidators was like unearthing the Ark of the Covenant for me.

Not only that, but I was constantly floored by the sincere generosity I encountered this month. If we include the woman who gave me Disney Princess for free, I count five unique people who either bought or gave something to me this month. I can’t say enough just how thankful I am to be surrounded by such amazing people who support what I do with my life.

Thank you for reading this month’s spiel about videogames! I have news for you: The next installment is going to be incredibly varied and perhaps a little more lengthy than usual (is that even possible?) because I collected 82 things in July. I hope you’re ready to hear about every last one of them in the next installment of This Yard Has Saled!

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.

10 Comments

  1. These grab-bag-logs once again do not disappoint! Keep them coming! That liquidators place sounds like the motherload! I would have ran out of there out of fear for spending too much. Loved hearing how people were glad to part with stuff just taking up space for you guys too! That is awesome! Looking forward to the next write-up!

    1. Long Island is only a short jaunt away from [insert your location here]! We also have food here, so you’ll feel right at home!

        1. I’ve already got one, so I haven’t been looking, but either way I haven’t come across one yet in my adventures. But if I come across one, you’ll be the first to know (after, well, me)!

  2. I was at a flea market this morning and spotted the first-run variant of Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt. I never would have thought anything of it if I hadn’t read this article. Not that I bought the game…but it was interesting to see it in the wild.

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