Classic Gaming 101: Where can I buy classic games in Cleveland?

This first Throwback Thursday entry, another article written for Examiner.com, came about after I received an email (a form email sent to all writers, not a personalized email indicating that anyone on staff had any actual notion or knowledge of my work) mentioning that I might get more readers if I did something with a bit of a local flavor.  It was to be sort of a beginner’s guide to the city in which I live as it relates to my area of “expertise” (i.e. the title of “Classic Games Examiner”). Taking the form email to heart, I decided to put my own spin on the idea and produced the laziest, least work-intensive article I could.

I like how the article turned out, but it’s a litter bittersweet for me looking back.  Borders Books (mentioned briefly in the article) is now closed, as are a number of BuyBack$ locations–if not all of them by this point.

That top image is the Cuyahoga River burning, by the way.


Originally published to the Examiner.com on August 16, 2009.

Cleveland’s truly an awesome city.  Anyone who’s seen Mike Polk’s “Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video” on Youtube can attest to this.  Sure, I admit that we did have a bit of a vampire problem that once prevented those but the most courageous of us from venturing out of doors after sundown in the late 1980s, but a rise in violent gang activity during recent years has alleviated that problem and made the streets safe for our gun-toting youths. 

With Cleveland’s revival as a city has come a revival in secondhand mercantilism, especially where classic video games are concerned.  Whether you want to start a collection of classic video games or you’re looking to add a few new pieces to an already existing collection, there are a number of stores in Cleveland that are suited to your needs.  I recently investigated three such stores in the surrounding area, though allow me to offer one piece of advice: do not visit any of these stores after they’ve closed.  Take it from me, the selection is nowhere near as great as when each store is open.  Also, peering into darkened store windows whilst holding a crowbar bought from Home Depot only moments before is…not advisable.  Anyway, here’s what I found!

Cheap, rare movies are also a huge draw of BuyBack$.

BuyBack$ is one of those stores that has made me feel like I’ve been living under a rock for most of my life.  Within the past year or so, a number of them have popped up in the area (with little to no fanfare until after they’ve arrived), though I’m certainly not complaining.  BuyBack$ offers a fairly sizable selection of NES, SNES, Genesis, PlayStation, and GameBoy games at (typically) eBay prices.  Some system peripherals are also offered, though the selection is variable.  Please note that these items are often loose, so mint-in-box collectors may be better off looking in our next store.

It’s not just for records anymore.  Actually, it’s not at all for records anymore, not since the invention of the 8-track.  Wait, that’s not right…

I’m sure plenty of people reading this article already know about the Exchange, but for those who don’t, it’s a lot like BuyBack$–but with a greater selection.  There are also more store locations, since the Exchange (formerly Record Exchange) as a chain has been around for awhile.  If you’re looking for games from the NES, SNES, N64, PlayStation, Atari, Genesis, Master System, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, or Game Gear, I’d advise checking out the Exchange.  Each store has an adequate selection of loose and mint-in-box items, as well as a good number of peripherals at reasonable prices.  Pay them a visit.  You won’t be disappointed.

I once found a copy of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale for $1.00 in here.  Of course, it was after paying, like, $15.00 for a new copy at Borders.  Yes, I’m aware you don’t actually care.

Now, some of you are probably puzzled.  Why Half-Price Books?  Well, while it’s true that they mostly deal in secondhand games from the last two generations (N64, PlayStation and onward), one platform that the other two stores fail to cover almost completely is the PC.  Half-Price Books, oddly enough, picks up the slack like some sort of slack-picking-up champion.  When I checked their North Olmsted location, I found some old Star Wars CD-ROM PC games (Dark Forces, Rebel Assault) for under $10.00 each, all mint-in-box; Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (1987 floppy disk version) for around $30.00 mint-in-box; and various other video game adventures from PC antiquity.  PC game collectors should check their local Half-Price Books for similar gems.  Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me, either.

While this is by no means a complete list of secondhand classic game stores in the Cleveland area, the three stores on this list are a good starting point for new collectors and veterans alike.  In my experience, these stores certainly offer the most reasonable prices for the most diverse product, and, since they’re chain stores, they’re accessible everyone in the Cleveland area (suburbs included).  Good luck, and happy hunting.


-LINKS-

For more info: 

The Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video

BuyBack$

The Exchange

Half-Price Books

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