It’s fair to say that I like things quick and convenient most of the time. I mean, I’m the kind of guy that will convert my entire DVD collection to MP4 just to save myself the hassle of changing discs. As a result, you might reasonably expect that I’m one of those sorts that will hop straight on eBay and plump for the best Buy It Now when I’m looking for a retro game – but nothing could be further from the truth.
As it happens, I’m a hardened veteran of charity shops, boot sales and second-hand stores, and I regularly visit as many as possible. There’s no mystery behind it – most of my best finds have come from the least likely sources. A complete US copy of Metal Gear for the NES, with box, map, instructions and all? CEX in Colchester. The top-loading NES-101 I play it on, as well as my US SNES? A charity shop.
The trick with offline retro shopping is not to go out in search of something specific, but to go out with an open mind and embrace the mystery. Sure, most charity shops will have nothing more than a few PS2 FIFA games – but I’ve also seen imports from Japan, the USA and Brazil in the wild. You should also dismiss your preconceptions about shops – while most places are price-aware, savvy traders know that they need to price things to move. Case in point: I missed a Sega Multi-Mega at £65 last year, and that was in a CEX. However, that same week I picked up Final Fantasy IX in mint condition for 50p. Where? Cash Converters.
Your collection might not be the most focused if you buy this way, but I guarantee that you’ll end up with some very cool items if you do – and that’s why I love it.