How are people finding car boot sales, yard sales, thrift shops, charity shops and such for games these days?

FAST6191

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So I was watching

A video detailing the prices of old tools in the US at least in the current year, and changes in the market compared to 5-10-15 years ago.

Now I like old tools (was watching a video about them after all and have a few posts around here detailing such things) but old games is also what I do (have more than a few posts discussing that) and thus we are here today.

I have been buying (old) games for more than 30 years now and obviously that has seen massive changes in how things play out. Old stories are certainly something to share in this (30 years ago I could buy a sports bag or two full of C64 games and such like for £10, likewise I am sure everybody around back then is kicking themselves for not buying up every NES, SNES, PS1, megadrive and N64 collection going for "get it out of my house/attic" prices and sitting on it) but was going to look at more recent times and developments there as a focus.

I source things from all manner of places -- charity shops are a popular thing in the UK (even small villages tend to have them), second hand electronics/games shops (rarer than they once were, though the big players are now variously bankrupt or only focusing on new games, and back when you had what was in the shop, no national we can ship it from the other side of the country database like you might have for some today), yard/garage sales are not really a thing in the UK (they do happen, though it is usually more an entire street or area has one at the same time rather than individuals on a random weekend), estate sales even less of one (in the UK you tend to get house clearance people in that take it all away in a van to go to general auctions, car boot sales, their own sales, their own preferred vendors for specific items and whatnot) and car boot sales (somewhat akin to flea markets, though "table sales" also exist where someone might rent a village hall and in turn rent that out to people selling things they made or otherwise have). I similarly travel around a fair bit and even given half an hour I will poke my nose in somewhere on the off chance.

In the last year I have also seen things change as well -- if I want games at a car boot sale I have to be there as people are unloading their cars (means leaving the house at 6am at the latest too) which tends to wind people up (I occasionally help out friends or family that are doing one and it is a wonder I don't issue headbutts to such people, so I just don't and stick to tools and books about tools and useful to those that use tools -- unlike the video I started this out with the UK is still pretty tame for this one in most cases) or be lucky (got myself a nice DSi the other month for £10 with a few bits of shovelware despite many of those I am about to describe milling around/having been past the row I found it in as I was going backwards that day). I have also seen plenty of kids wandering around phone in hand to arbitrage with ebay, CEX (popular technically international chain of second hand games/dvds/electronics vendors) and the like that buy whole stacks of things which is a new development for me, though have seen resellers/sharks in plenty an amusing internet video of people that also go around collecting and reselling in the US for a few years now (favourite channel for such things, though his more recent stuff is less of the in the wild footage than his older stuff, plenty of "picker", scrapper and such channels if you do want such things though). I am not a reseller or an arbitrager though, indeed have not sold/traded into a shop anything game related of mine for north of 20 years at this point, and have no particular desire to get into the field.

I am sure everybody reading this is familiar with charity shops/thrift shops being picked clean of everything but sports games and COD style shelf fodder, save maybe they get lucky and are that 10 minutes after it got donated/put out. This applies whether it is said tiny village (I say having got a copy of Tony Hawk 2 for the PS1 the other week for next to nothing, and Wii New Super Mario Bros and Mario Party something for even less than that) or larger town. Some even recognise the value of such a thing and reflect ebay prices (do also do it for books now as well).

For games I don't do ebay, amazon, facebook groups, craigslist, gumtree (think craigslist but more in the UK and I think Australia), newspaper ads (I think they still exist) or the like so only have a passing familiarity with such things unless it is a very specific thing I am after (so nothing in possibly the past 10 years on the games front, few books though). However where once those doing house clearance, selling off uncle childless' housing contents, whatever their kids left behind when going to university and the like at car boot sales were clueless I see things priced to match (or maybe a bit less to shift), possibly in real time if you ask for a price. This goes from 20 somethings to grandmas I can't say without exception but it is the exception that don't do this for me these days. Do see a fair few want to sell the system and games as a bundle though.

While I have got some games at antiques shops then it is far from common here compared to some of the things I saw in the US where people would rent a shelf/cabinet in such a shop and sell games there (the model does exist here, indeed might even be the default, but it is the sort of thing you typically expect to see in such a shop).

Contents of things also varies dramatically as time goes on. I very very rarely see anything older than the 360, and if I do it is usually sports game type shelf fodder, specialist seller, those that priced according to ebay or the like. Indeed last year for 360 was also rather less than it used to be. Exception there for old PC games (mostly DVD case and CD jewel case, frequently spinning stand "best of" type things rather than nice cardboard box stuff) as those I do find often enough and going for not a lot, though even they increasingly are creeping up and being subject to things mentioned elsewhere.
Now the shifting market for what is retro (choice video below) obviously influences things but the cutoffs are rather stark compared to say 10 years ago (still firmly in the retro games boom) where some things were less common but still seen


What are your thoughts, observations, experiences on buying second hand games and the market there?
 
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Latiodile

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i miss being able to go to flea markets, they're super rare where i am and i haven't been to one in a good 12-ish years, they're also always super far away

my local thrift stores only stock old sports games, so the selection is super limiting these days
 
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SylverReZ

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i miss being able to go to flea markets, they're super rare where i am and i haven't been to one in a good 12-ish years, they're also always super far away

my local thrift stores only stock old sports games, so the selection is super limiting these days
It all depends on where you look.
 

Latiodile

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It all depends on where you look.
i've looked everywhere, they just don't exist in my city, the only places "qualified" enough to sell these kinds of things tend to sell worthless games for $40 just because they're on a popular system from some years ago

the pandemic also made most of them disappear, like the one i used to go to that was a 4 hour drive away
 
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FAST6191

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i miss being able to go to flea markets, they're super rare where i am and i haven't been to one in a good 12-ish years, they're also always super far away

my local thrift stores only stock old sports games, so the selection is super limiting these days
If they are that far away then despite being almost entirely ignorant of Canadian laws here (could well imagine some kind of needs to be sanctioned as a pawn broker to do it ruling) it could be worth seeing about setting one up -- everybody else in the same position (and possibly having sorted their attics/cellars having stayed at home for a while over the last few years) mean there might be some good stuff and easy enough to at least break even on. Assuming your are not too rural there is bound to be some disused on that day car park (one I used to go to was held on a Sunday when despite being surrounded by office buildings it was Sunday so nothing but them), village hall, club hall, warehouse, sports field or the like you can rent for a morning with some token insurance and maybe a portable toilet if you are nice/unlucky not to have some public facilities nearby or included with things, might even be able to convince some town government to do it as a money spinner for them.



Also forgot to mention storage locker sales. They are kind of a thing in the UK but very rare compared to the US as very few people use such services for more than a month at a time while moving house or something. To that end I don't tend to see anything coming from such things where I might elsewhere, not to mention we are dealing with general goods at that point and if I am not game reseller I am certainly not up for household goods and whatever randomness such things entail. Bankruptcy auctions can also be a thing some find things at but you are more likely to find a box of third party cables and that is it on the games side, can be good for the tools thing that kicked this idea off though.
 
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Latiodile

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If they are that far away then despite being almost entirely ignorant of Canadian laws here (could well imagine some kind of needs to be sanctioned as a pawn broker to do it ruling) it could be worth seeing about setting one up -- everybody else in the same position (and possibly having sorted their attics/cellars having stayed at home for a while over the last few years) mean there might be some good stuff and easy enough to at least break even on. Assuming your are not too rural there is bound to be some disused on that day car park (one I used to go to was held on a Sunday when despite being surrounded by office buildings it was Sunday so nothing but them), village hall, club hall, warehouse, sports field or the like you can rent for a morning with some token insurance and maybe a portable toilet if you are nice/unlucky not to have some public facilities nearby or included with things, might even be able to convince some town government to do it as a money spinner for them.



Also forgot to mention storage locker sales. They are kind of a thing in the UK but very rare compared to the US as very few people use such services for more than a month at a time while moving house or something. To that end I don't tend to see anything coming from such things where I might elsewhere, not to mention we are dealing with general goods at that point and if I am not game reseller I am certainly not up for household goods and whatever randomness such things entail. Bankruptcy auctions can also be a thing some find things at but you are more likely to find a box of third party cables and that is it on the games side, can be good for the tools thing that kicked this idea off though.
i don't think it's sanctions or anything, i think it's just that i live in the wrong part of the country despite literally being in the capital of it, since even sites like craigslist and whatever similar analogs are also almost completely dead here too
 
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I try to catch local yard sales when I can (if they sound like they might have something interesting) and go to Goodwill every one or two weeks. I can rarely ever find anything gaming-related (never have period at Goodwill), the most I've found was some mid-2000s PC games probably no one remembers, and I think a Guitar Hero Wii controller once. Otherwise, it's pretty much nothing.

I almost wonder if there's an employee at Goodwill who keeps all the gaming stuff to themself or there's some special section that I don't know about. I definitely don't live in the "youngest" part of the country, but I'd think a Wii would show up every once in a while, or something.

General electronics-wise, it's not great either. Don't see much other than cables and the occasional DVD player, VGA monitor, etc.
 
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SylverReZ

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I try to catch local yard sales when I can (if they sound like they might have something interesting) and go to Goodwill every one or two weeks. I can rarely ever find anything gaming-related (never have period at Goodwill), the most I've found was some mid-2000s PC games probably no one remembers, and I think a Guitar Hero Wii controller once. Otherwise, it's pretty much nothing.

I almost wonder if there's an employee at Goodwill who keeps all the gaming stuff to themself or there's some special section that I don't know about. I definitely don't live in the "youngest" part of the country, but I'd think a Wii would show up every once in a while, or something.

General electronics-wise, it's not great either. Don't see much other than cables and the occasional DVD player, VGA monitor, etc.
I would visit local car boot sales and eBay every now and then to see if I can find anything interesting. eBay is always a mixed bag but car boots most of the time would have nothing interesting, that is, unless you stumble across something that catches your eye and I have been lucky on many occasions. Found untested consoles that worked, sound cards, old computers, video game mags, games, you name it.
 

FAST6191

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I almost wonder if there's an employee at Goodwill who keeps all the gaming stuff to themself or there's some special section that I don't know about. I definitely don't live in the "youngest" part of the country, but I'd think a Wii would show up every once in a while, or something.
There have been issues in the past with employees keeping all the good stuff, nominally these days I believe they are not supposed to buy stuff or only after X days/weeks are they allowed but how well that is enforced (much less for games rather than jewellery or something where that got really heated) I don't know, and even then call a friend with a timeline for when it is due out of the sorting room is a popular option here (assuming there is not an outright deal with a local game shop or ebay seller, or them being the ebay seller as they are in the business of making money).
I don't know what goes for shipping things around these days (few years back I wandered around several different ones in Washington state about a week apart and there was a marked difference between small flat costs millions because you can throw a rock and land in the Microsoft campus, "this is where the Microsoft higher ups live" and "since the lumber mill closed in the 80s our local business is heroin" a bit further away) but that is also an option I see some places engage in such that the local market is suitably furnished (student town has student related things, retirement community few towns over has nice old furniture with matching clothes and the like).
 
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gtmsc8

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There have been issues in the past with employees keeping all the good stuff, nominally these days I believe they are not supposed to buy stuff or only after X days/weeks are they allowed but how well that is enforced (much less for games rather than jewellery or something where that got really heated) I don't know, and even then call a friend with a timeline for when it is due out of the sorting room is a popular option here (assuming there is not an outright deal with a local game shop or ebay seller, or them being the ebay seller as they are in the business of making money).
I don't know what goes for shipping things around these days (few years back I wandered around several different ones in Washington state about a week apart and there was a marked difference between small flat costs millions because you can throw a rock and land in the Microsoft campus, "this is where the Microsoft higher ups live" and "since the lumber mill closed in the 80s our local business is heroin" a bit further away) but that is also an option I see some places engage in such that the local market is suitably furnished (student town has student related things, retirement community few towns over has nice old furniture with matching clothes and the like).

Goodwill, Salvation Army, the sad thing is there will always be a few bad apples regardless.
 

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The Goodwill/thrift store era of finding old games for a buck is over. The employees don't even get a chance to hold onto it for a friend or themselves--it goes straight off to the ShopGoodwill auction site. Or ComputerWorks Goodwills/The Grid.
 
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FAST6191

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Didn't know they had gone fully into such things, though looking at their website it appears they go in a lot for bundles of no particular sense (if I had to guess bundled as it came in rather than something that might get maximum value or maximum value and quickest sale) rather than splitting things which is interesting. Almost as though they recognise games as valuable but not how to actually value them.
Some of the bundles were also pretty good value if you were in turn to split it, or possibly sit on it -- how I understand many that do facebook marketplace do things where you buy some kid's console the mother wants shot of as a package deal (most likely to be primarily shovelware, but also often enough the odd rare RPG, popular party game*, silly rare kids game that most game players would not buy but collectors want) with maybe a few controllers and sell things off individually to make a profit (or maybe break even/minimal loss and keep a game you want).

*if you want smash brothers, mario kart, mario platformer, zelda and whatnot you are going to have to pay up if going individually today, but as they would have been bog standard birthday/christmas/whining gifts and pocket money fodder for the kids back when things were current that can be a good way to jumpstart such a collection for the cost of having to dispose of a few grandma bait games (though even those can be worth something for those wanting complete collections, see https://www.racketboy.com/retro/the-rarest-most-valuable-xbox-360-games for some examples from a while back)

Also shocking to me is apparently guitar hero, rock band, rocksmith et al controllers are actually worth something again (generally and not just whatever special edition sticker a version might have got in the dark times). Time was nobody wanted such a thing, charity shops would not take them as they might have had 10 on the shelf already, could not give them away at car boot sales, even includes PS2 stuff rather than the PS360 stuff. It appears to have extended into Wii Fit boards as well which similarly polluted every car boot sale I went to for about 5 years.
 

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Goodwill auctions (and other auction sellers claiming to help little kids, animals, Jesus, etc.) are often questionable quality: typically disingenuously saying things are "untested" or "tested to power on," and not taking returns. I imagine the person listing doesn't know much about stuff they never owned and has about 50 more pieces of junk to research and describe before quittin' time....

Flea markets are better off dead than becoming attractions. I'm talking about how a little farmers' market turns into a sort of hilly-billy themed antiques roadshow for tourists. You might find a few games that haven't been rained on too many times out in the parking lot but fighting traffic on the way in and out of podunkville--which only still exists because it hosts a flea market attraction--will make you never want to go back. The arseholes who charge you $5 if you want to park less than a mile away suck, too.

There was once a small game shop about 50 miles away. They had a box of GBA and GB games that were around 3 for $10. The box was mostly full of shovelgames like Mary Kate & Ashley, but some of the games were bad enough to be funny: I remember finding The Hobbit (the version with the giant octopus) and some dumb MIB game that looked suspiciously like a hack of Batman. I went there a few times a year in the teens. The last time I went, they were packing it in and said they were opening up an online store. The gameboy box was still out and the guy asked me if I liked xbox games. I asked him if it were something to do with the x-files. They were soon gone altogether on- and off- line.
 

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