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Shopping at Not!Gamestop

In my area, for the past few years, I've had three choices for buying video games at brick and mortar stores: 1) Gamestop, 2) Big-name chain (Walmart, Best Buy), 3) go fuck myself. It hasn't been pleasant; I strongly dislike Gamestop, and really dislike any large chain by nature. The only thing that's made it more pleasant has been the Milford store that I typically go to; though it's a half hour drive away, at least I'm friends with everyone there, they know their shit, and if they don't know their shit, they ask me. It's relaxing, and also a bit of a boost for the ego, as my "indie journalist" status carries legitimate credibility there. Most other Gamestops in my area are either tolerable (like Derby, depending on who's working) or pants-on-head stupid (everywhere else, espeically Shelton). I really dislike shopping there, especially considering their business tactics (they bought a monopoly, forced used sales - on pain of termination with no unemployment and no benefits for their minimum wage staff - so hard that the industry literally had to mobilize plans like Project Ten Dollar to turn a lemon into bitter lemonade, and actively squash smaller retailers by not stocking anything that isn't a big name), but what can you do if you don't want to trust people on eBay?

Therefore, I was extremely glad to see a new place called Game Xchange open up in Orange. It's even farther away than the one in Milford, but at the very least, the chain is extremely small - this is the only location in New England - so it's not like I'm supporting someone that is killing the industry and stealing from gamers. I walked in to check it out, and went back to trade in my review copy of Tiger Woods '11.

For new stock, their trade-in prices are better than Gamestop's; they gave me $35 credit towards a Project Ten Dollar game, and even if I wanted cash, they would have given me $30. The CASH price is more than what Gamestop would give me for trade ($27.50, I'd wager) unless I caught them in one of their "trade 4, get 50% more" specials that are singlehandedly killing the industry. That right there says something; these guys want to be THE go-to people for trade-ins, and it shows, because for newer used games, their profit margins are in the shitter. Most used games that are of newer vintage are $45-$50; only a few are $55, and I notice the PTD games are specifically marked down. I don't know if each location does its own pricing or if this is a corporate command, but whatever it is, for newer games, it's not bad.

Not everything is well priced, though; I notice previous generation titles are slightly higher priced than market. That's OK, because I'm not paying shipping like I would on eBay. Mid-level titles are also somewhat higher priced than they would be at Gamestop; Gamestop makes a point of getting rid of the mid-level stuff that clogs up store shelves. In effect, I still have to shop around for the best prices, but for Xbox/PS2 games, this is the preferable place to go to, unless I'm looking for 40 copies of Madden '05.

Where Game Xchange makes its mark is in things beyond the PS2 era. Yes, Virginia, there are still brick and mortar stores that have older games! Everything from the PS1 to the ATARI 2600 is stocked, and though those prices tend to be high - even most NES games are $5, and the rarer or bigger-name games like The Legend of Zelda are retailing for $20, twice what that game can be had for on eBay - at the very least, they're stocked. There's a lot of rare systems, too. I saw a Neo Geo Pocket (sadly, no NGP Colour, or I'd own it), and even a Sega Nomad! Unfortunately, $80 for a flimsy battery whore like that is a bit much when I have emulation. Even then, they have a large stock of those cheap, Chinese-made systems that are all the rage with the retro collectors nowadays. I forget the names of the ones they're stocking, but most of them have two slots - one for NES games, the other for SNES, though there are three-slot models for the Genesis games as well - but they go for a decent price for people that just need something to play their games on. Since I no longer own an actual SNES, this would be up my alley, if I knew it could play imports.

Sadly, this is where Game Xchange falls the hardest: the staff is the absolute dog's bollocks. Though it's excessive at times, when I walk into Gamestop, I know I'm going to be asked if I need help. That's really all I need or expect (though I start getting ornery once the sales pitches start). I've been in this store twice, and not once has someone actually tried to talk to me; in fact, I almost feel shunned. Not in a sense of "this guy is weird", but in a case of "HUMANS! NO!!!". The guy I've seen there twice checks off every negative stereotype one would have of a guy that works in a video game store.

Young (early 20s)? Check.
Zit-faced? Check.
Greasy hair, looks like he doesn't shower until he knows the flies on a first name basis? Check.
Socially awkward to the point of being antisocial? Check, check, check.

With all that, the one check someone would apply is "knows his shit", right? That's the weird thing: no check! I asked him if he knew if the import systems had the ability to play import titles; I figured it could at least support Super Famicom games, because all you need on real SNES models is to break off some tabs. "Um... not that I know?" OK, do you at least have a return policy? "Um... probably not". OK then! Tell you what, tiger: go learn about your product before you talk to me again. And for GOD'S sake, if you're not going to shower, invest in some Axe. You're a bit overripe.

Compare that to the treatment Aileen and I consistently receive at Modern Myths, a comic store in Northampton that kicks eight kinds of ass and leaves a ninth for when it's bored, with people that know their shit, love what they do, and are even pretty knowledgeable about things outside of their mileau (they have no manga specialists, but can tell people a few things about what's on the shelves), and it's sickening that these guys can't get someone who has a clue, or at least someone who knows what shampoo does.

I ended up turning Tiger Woods and $5 into NBA 2K10 for the PS3 (blah) and Atari Anthology for the PS2 (decent collection, especially since my PC version doesn't run on Windows 7. And it's MUCH more attractive than $3/game on the Microsoft Game Room that I kicked the shit out of a while back). That's much better than I'd have gotten at Gamestop, and though it's not going to replace Gamestop completely - especially with a dumber version of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons manning the counter - it's at least nice to have an alternative in my area. Finally. For once.

At least until it closes down, and we're stuck with the cunt in the Derby store again, to go with the guy on eBay trying to wring $60 out of me for Dragon Force...'s instruction book.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 9th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
especially with a dumber version of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons manning the counter

More Squeaky-Voiced Teen than Comic Book Guy, though.
Jul. 9th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
Hm yeah, that's decidedly worse than the girl who talked about PSP 1000s when I specifically mentioned 3000s. Mind you, that WAS EB (GameStop), except this location used to be really cool. They all knew me...until I stopped working in that mall. XD
Jul. 9th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
You should send this to the manager. Seriously--you love what they're doing, but some small changes could go a long way towards making you a loyal customer. :D
Jul. 9th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
The problem I have with this is that while the kid is obviously bad at what he does, saying something like that is probably going to get him fired. I don't want to get people fired, especially from something like this. That kid's probably paying for college, and though I'd of course like to get someone in there that knows what he's doing and bathes a few times, I'm always loathe to complain and get people in serious life trouble.
Jul. 9th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Sounds like my local Game Swap. (Similar outfit, and I believe there is only one location in the entire country at this point.) Good to hear that you got a store like that, though it appears they have about the same grade of employee as my Game Swap. :-| Irony, I suppose.

To be fair, though, I have only been burned once on E-Bay (a shipping error resulting in a lost item), and I received both a refund and a full apology for that.
Jul. 9th, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)
We had a Game Xchange in Norman. Decent older stock, until we bought them out of everything good, and after that we had little reason to ever go back there, especially once Vintage Stock opened (and had different old awesome stuff every time I went in).

If the NES/SNES systems they've got are Retro Duos, though: I have one, and they will play imports. There are a couple of games with known compatibility issues, though. I've heard that some newer copies of Super Mario RPG won't run (mine works fine, though). Offhand, the only game in my collection that hasn't worked for me so far is Yoshi's Island.
Jul. 9th, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
They're not Retro Duos, but clones, I think. Very Chinese, kinda flimsy. I don't trust them at $50/pop with no guarantee that the store has my back.

But as long as I know they play Famicom and Super Famicom games (since I own a few imports, including the non-Thracia Fire Emblems and a newly acquired Treasure Hunter G), that goes a ways towards me biting the bullet.
Jul. 11th, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC)
Always nice when these kinds of stores pop up. I've got two stores of similar natures out here that dabble in older stuff, but neither one really changes their stock very often. Or, at least, the stuff that people actually want.

And, like Samu, I have only been "burned" once buying from eBay or Amazon and that was for something that the seller had no real control over (one of the Fire Emblem: Exceed a Generation figures I bought had a part broken off of it, and given the boxes that they're in, it's kinda hard to know that ahead of time). And, I got another one to replace it extremely promptly, so I can't say I was burned...
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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