Tales From Behind The Counter – Lost Treasures, Trade-Ins, and Drugs

I should preface this installment by saying that I am a pack rat. I always have been and probably always will be. When I die, my relatives will come to clean out my house and find stacks and stacks of old newspapers, every wrapper of the slices of Velveeta cheese I had eaten over the past twenty years, and journals of every major weather event from 2025 on with my hand drawn renditions of how things went down. I keep everything. Having said that, it baffles me that most people have no problem trading in all of their old video games and accessories, and for extremely pathetic prices at that.

The other day, two guys walked into the store and told me they had a couple of items that they only wanted cash for. People who want cash instead of store credit are idiots because the cash value of stuff is almost always about 30% of what it is actually worth. They handed over a PS3 game and a Rock Band mic and I gladly gave them $1.99 for the microphone and $5 for the game. The moronic part of the whole transaction is that they were cool with those prices. I turned around and sold the Rock Band mic for $15 and the game for $40; profiteer, yes I am.

The laziness of people is also extremely evident when trading-in items. Many people don’t bother cleaning their games…ever. I have seen trade-in games that are covered in grease, butter, monkey come, and finger prints. How do people get their games so damned dirty?! I am not even going to touch the scratched up stuff that I see everyday; it is as though most people take their games out of their jewel cases and store them in the same cabinet that they keep all of their metal clippings and iron filings. Speaking of not taking games out of their jewel cases, I get a lot of games traded in without jewel cases simply because the customers are too lazy to go home and retrieve them. Many times I have opened up one game case to find two or three games cloistered in there instead of just one. The customers notice this and just tell me to take those ones too. When I mention that without the case, I can only give them a maximum of 50% of its credit value they just shrug and green light the transaction. Nevermind the fact that most people are too lazy to go get the case, but what in the hell were the games doing out of their cases to begin with? My game collection is stacked like a Smithsonian exhibit, all games are pristine and in their correct cases and when they aren’t, I have severe issues.

Even more disturbing than the values that I assign to trade-in merchandise are the crappy games that some people want to trade in. Usually, when a trade in occurs, some kid comes in and tries to hand over Crash Bandicoot and two or three old sports titles. My store has a policy that we do not take any sports game more than a year old because we will never be able to sell them since no one wants Madden 2002; they all want the newest thing out. Therefore, old sports games just sit there; they are the bane of our existence. The Crash Bandicoot game would net the kid all of $3 and he would happily walk out a richer man. Then there are the rare events in which we get really good stuff traded in.

When good trades come through the door, nine times out of ten it is some guy that is my age and needs to sell the games for cash to buy meth or whatever substandard drug is popular in Idaho that day. Idaho’s past favorites include: Special K, Ritalin, Vicodin, and a couple of others, but meth has dominated the top spot for several years now and when an immaculate copy of Super Mario RPG comes in, I can thank meth. In essence, the games that we sell for the most profit are the games that we paid some addict the least amount of cash for. The day that coke or heroin becomes popular in Idaho is the day that I hope to see some copies of Earthbound come through the door. Druggies really are our perfect customers because they always have the best games and will part with them for stupid prices. Many drug addled people are also clean freaks, thus keeping their super rare copies of the original Final Fantasy VII in pristine shape.

When I started to pound out this installment, I did so with the intent to try to show you just what people are willing to trade in when they really need a new game. Now that I have run my course I am realizing that there is an altogether different topic that can be gleaned from this: many people really don’t value and appreciate their games. Unfortunately, to most people a game is just a game. That makes my game store more like a halfway house for unwanted kids than a barely profitable retail outlet. While their previous owners meander through the shelves of my outpost, I will coddle and reassure their abandoned treasures in my little nook behind the counter.

9 thoughts on “Tales From Behind The Counter – Lost Treasures, Trade-Ins, and Drugs”

  1. I will admit to having traded in games. To defend myself, the two times it happened were when I was unemployed and hadn’t bought a new game in months, even when I was working. I traded in mostly junky PS2 and Gamecube games, though I did give up Rogue Galaxy and Soul Calibur 3, the former being a bit hard to part with, the latter pissing me off with its bullshit and save clearing bugs. Basically, there was nothing in the pile that I can see myself craving in ten years.

    To me, trading has its uses. Most of my games collection are hand picked gems that I know I will be able to still appreciate in the future, but when I first got my PS2, there were so many cheap throwaway titles to try out. I also bought a few Cube games out of desperation when pickings were slim. Thus I am stuck with copies of Onimusha 1 and 2 and Wave Race Blue Storm, games I am embarrassed to still have but won’t get any money back for.

  2. Christian, there is nothing wrong with Onimusha 1.

    My experience mirrors yours on everything else though. I trade in all of the games that i know i will never play again. To keep your place in my collection you must have replayability. The same is true of all the media i own. But lately I have been giving my ‘non-replayable’ games away to Jay, since he is a hoarder/collector and has no standards. I’d rather dump my garbage on a friend then gain $3.00. That’s just the kind of guy I am.

  3. onimusha 1 is pretty good. i never made it through the second though.

    i feel like jay is cheating on me, accepting games from you shota. ive never traded anything in (although i have lent some stuff to friends and never gotten it back) but most of my stuff eventually finds it way to jays shelves.

    final fantasy 7 becoming rare is something i never saw coming. christian had to alert me to that a few weeks ago. i feel like everyone had it when it came out so assumed there would always be plenty of them in circulation. now smt games on the other hand, you know you have to snatch those up when you see them on shelves.

  4. I can sort of see not bothering to go back and get the case for a game. Based on the numbers you gave above that’d only net you $2.50 for the trip, which might go almost entirely to gas/bus fare.

    Of course, that still doesn’t address their bringing the game without the case in the first place.

  5. I guess it is just the overall vibe of people not really respecting their games that bugs me. I figure that if you are going to pay in the neighborhood of $60 for a game, you should place some kind of value on that game because it wasn’t exactly cheap, maybe I am just old fashioned.

  6. I totally agree with the halfway house comparison. Some of the games we get in have obviously been abused and although we clean them up, you know they will never be the same again. They will always bear the scars of their incarceration with whatever passed for care with their previous owners.

    But then, I still have my Sega CD set up and I have never, ever traded any of my games away, so I am not our average customer. (Thank goodness!)

  7. Allow me to retrospect a bit – I think a lot of the mishandling of games is due to these people growing up with CD based music. There was a belief early on that CDs were quite resilient and indestructible, and as long as that proved true people would manhandle them. These habits would carry on with disc based games. Until one of them loses a precious disc to a minor looking scratch (like my Shenmue disc 1), they won’t realize how bad their care is.

  8. I traded games in twice several years ago, but have suspended the practice. The only game I’ve ever reacquired after trading in was Castlevania:SOTN (found it cheap at a store that didn’t know what they had, so I still came out a few bucks ahead). Nowadays I never buy a game with the intention of getting rid of it. Eh, I may die upon a gigantic heap of old boxes some day, but I’ll be too crazy by then to care anyway. Got a few keepers. FFVII, Intelligent Qube are two I remember. But I don’t have them because they are rare, I keep have because they are good games.

    It struck me the other day that I haven’t seen a copy of Contra 4 on the shelf in the past couple of weeks, I think it’s time to grab one of those if it ain’t too late.

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