This week, my “thrift” adventure takes place in an antique mall. It’s the kind of place you find sterling, china, and Victorian pieces — next to a secured-like-Fort-Knox showcase of old-ass video games.
Look for beautiful and distinctive mint-green jadeite dishes, dating back to the 1930s, popular after World War II — and Adventures of LoLo II. Perhaps you’re seeking a rare piece of stunning cobalt Depression Glass — or four copies of Gyromite, one with the label scraped off. How about a pine blanket chest from the 18th century used to store your fine linens — and a Sega Genesis copy of Flicky?
Whatever this is, this ain’t it.
We used to go to yard sales to dig through boxes, to re-find ourselves through objects. We might come across a copy of RC Pro AM or Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. How much, we asked the seller. “Oh, those old games? Take them for a dollar.”
Next we cobbled together a console and some controllers cheap on Craigslist. We relived our childhoods. We got into collecting some more of the old games. It was like getting the band back together. Collecting turned into dreaming as we thought we’d finish that long ago quest we once proclaimed in childhood. One Day, I’m Going to Own Every Nintendo Game. It was a crazy idea, but so is everything else in this life.
We raided our parents’ basements and our childhood closets to see if we could procure any scraps that weren’t sold at the big community yard sale in 1994. We haggled in game shops. We scored on eBay. We blogged, we youtubed, we podcasted, we created. It was a grand treasure hunt, filled with nostalgia, community, and collecting.
Then Guys Named Jared came along. Maybe Mike. Maybe Chad. Whoever the bald-headed, backwards hat, emoting to Sublime after one Bud Light guy is in your hometown. Entrenpreneurial, dumb as rocks, orders the Biggie Bag at Wendy’s, and rents out the glass showcase in an antique mall to sell copies Ninja Gaiden and Othello.
Jared also runs a table at the flea market on weekends, where he also has an Urkel doll in a dented box, sitting there like the Hope Diamond. He’s usually not at the table. He leaves behind an underling who is also his girlfriend, and not empowered to give prices. She has to call him on his cellphone to ask how much she can sell a copy of Super Mario World for, a unique rarity that sold 20 million copies, which is $25 firm and fuck you.
He’s always been aggro like that, the way he used to throw the controller during NFL Blitz 99, the way he passive-aggressively eats fries at the flea market sitting in a throne of a lawn chair, the way he hoards and locks up copies of Abadox and Noabunaga’s Ambition II that have a child’s name written in sharpie across the back.
He moonlights in Amiibos. He has scalped so many NES Classics on Facebook Marketplace, he now owns a yacht or something. I’m sure I sound bitter and jealous. Supply and demand, capitalism, and hard knocks. I get it. Whatever. Whatever it is. But this ain’t it. I know that much.