Where to Find Classic Video Game Gear
By Cody Byre
As an employee of GameStop, the biggest corporate game retail company in the U.S., I often encounter customers seeking classic games, consoles, and accessories. These old gaming items—Playstation 2, GameCube, Original Xbox and older—have become increasingly difficult to locate for collectors or classic gaming enthusiasts, especially in working or mint condition. GameStop does have third party controllers and cords for older systems like the GameCube and PS2, but games are usually what inquisitors are after. My co-workers and I usually suggest that these customers check out some of the local gaming shops, but I had yet to visit any myself. I decided it was time to explore these places for myself, and see what all they have to offer. I ventured from Tumwater to Lacey, so all locations are within a 20-minute drive.
Capitol Eclectic Merchants
414 Franklin St. SE, Olympia
Open: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The store’s name refers to a broad and diverse range, which is perfectly fitting. Their logo strongly resembles an original Nintendo (NES) controller, and classic gaming is their main business. But they don’t stop there.
They have posters on the wall for movies, comics, games, and more. They give the place personality, but you can have one for $5. There is a large variety of classic gaming goodies, as expected. It’s the other items that surprised me: model cars, baseballs, rubber stamps, coins, crystals, belt buckles, albums, even a $115 set of skeletal teeth! Remember the Blu-Ray versus HD-D and accompanying movies are available, in red cases I don’t recall ever seeing before now. They even have Laser Disks, another short-lived storage medium.
Another appealing section of inventory, to gamers in the area, are the non-video forms of games. Capitol Eclectic Merchants offers Magic: The Gathering cards of every kind, even individually, in addition to Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z cards. If you’re broke, don’t sweat it; their business thrives on the buy, sell, trade cycle. Bring in your old stuff and sell it for cash, or use it in-store.
720 Sleater Kinney Rd, Lacey
Open: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
When I first pulled up, I noticed the sign was heavily influenced by GameStop’s, except it was white and green rather than white and red. The similarities don’t stop there, and that is not a bad thing. The inside is very clean and organized, and set up much like a video rental store. The game prices appeared to be very fair, with many classic games $5 and under. Unlike the other stores featured, GameStar also sells brand new games, and even takes pre-orders and does midnight-releases. I actually saw a sign advertising a 9:01 p.m. release, a rare offer that is allowed sometimes due to the game being released simultaneously at midnight on the East Coast.
GameStar originated in Oregon and has just recently branched north. This is the first location in Washington. Like Capitol Eclectic Merchants, GameStar does not stop at video games. They also use the buy, sell, trade model, and even allow games to be traded in toward the purchase of MTG cards—something I’ve yet to see offered elsewhere. They sell booster packs for $3.50 each. This store hosts weekly Magic: The Gathering tournaments, every Friday night, in the Draft format.
3530 Martin Way E, Olympia
It’s advertised as a “second-hand store.” This place is right near Lacey. Their sign facing the street reminded me of Pawn Stars. From what I saw of their selection, it is like a pawn shop, except no pawning. Though they do have a wide variety of classic games, consoles, and accessories for sale, they also deal in power tools, stereos, bicycles, guitars, smart-phones, and “collectables.”
English is not their first language, so they appeared to misunderstand my questions. I had experienced this language barrier previously when I made a phone call seeking a specific original Xbox game, Phantom Dust, a cult-hit with a reboot in the works. I didn’t see it on this trip. The store was tiny, but packed full of inventory. There was plenty of good value to be found; I noted Sega Dreamcasts for $40, Nintendo GameCubes for $32, and cartridge games as low as $3. This store had some of the best prices on consoles, though comparable prices on games, and some overpriced accessories were there to balance it out.
The Toy Box Collectables
5868 Pacific Ave Ste C, Lacey
The reviews on this store are overwhelmingly positive. Toy Box is looking to buy and sell gaming and comic-related items that are ideally in mint condition. This store is a little different than the others, in that the condition of the items is of the utmost importance.
Toy Box is flooded with color. There is a barrage of action figures and comic books all over the walls. Gaming is clearly not the focus. Collectibles are. There is an abundance of Marvel items, some Lego, Transformers, and Star Wars. Gaming is represented too—there is a Mario doll hanging up. Toy Box will also seek out rare games that a customer is looking for and order it for them. For those who care about the condition of their classic games, Toy Box would be my recommendation.