The Goldmine Near You

Find great deals on classic games

In more than 40 years since the “birth” of video gaming, there’s no denying the evolution that has taken place, both from an economical and technological view.

Those of us who grew up gaming remember Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Gauntlet and others that helped us hone our hand-eye coordination 25 cents at a time. Now we watch our children discover gaming and understand why our parents wouldn’t let us play “just one more hour,” even after promising to clean our rooms as soon as we were done.

Today, gaming has taken a major step forward. And though many of us look back on the “good old days of gaming” with rose-colored glasses, thankfully those days aren’t entirely gone.

If you want to share those experiences with your child, or if you’re just looking to rebuild your classic collection, there’s almost certainly a goldmine near your house. Go to Goodwill.

Even if, by some strange coincidence, you’re nowhere near an actual Goodwill store, you can visit ShopGoodwill.com and browse its selection of games, getting reasonable prices while doing so. In fact, let’s make it even easier for you. Visit Goodwill’s ‘Games’ Section.

As soon as you walk in, you’ll see a glass case near the front of the shop. This is where Goodwill stores the more valuable items.

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If these eBay-like auctions aren’t to your liking, you could always go into the stores on your own to buy. There’s a strategy, though, and one that you should implement if you want to find the best deals and, sometimes, a hidden treasure.

As soon as you walk in, you’ll see a glass case near the front of the shop. This is where Goodwill stores the more valuable items — cameras, watches, select movies, ceramic collectibles, and, of course, video games. For the most part you’ll see original Xbox and classic Nintendo games at drastically cut prices, but occasionally you’ll catch Nintendo 64, GameCube, and Playstation titles.

Tom Nordberg, a retired pastor from Columbia, Mo., shops for pint glasses and other glassware at a Goodwill store, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, in Columbia, Mo.  (AP Photo/Dan Gill)

Prices are typically between $1 and $10, but if it’s for a more recent game system you can expect to pay more. It’s not often you see Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 games here though, because retailers have started taking those games back for “trade-in credit.” Who wouldn’t want to get $3 back on a $60 game you bought just last year?

Next, you’ll want to head to the electronics section. Here you’ll find everything from VCRs to police scanners. Occasionally you’ll find a gaming peripheral and, if you’re lucky, it’s still in the box. Controllers and gaming headsets seem to be the most common, often missing the cables, but the Nintendo Power Pad and Power Glove has been known to make an appearance from time to time.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a console sitting there, begging to be had.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a console sitting there, begging to be had. Again, you’ll know you hit the lottery if the cables and power adapter are with it. If the box is there, you know someone is shining down on you. Boxes help increase the value, even if they’re in rough shape. Without the box, an original Nintendo can net upwards of $100, and if it has the box, you can count on an extra $50, minimum.

Finally, go to the toy section. Despite arguing that video games are “more than just toys,” you’ll still find a lot of gaming items here. Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo consoles, controllers and the like are placed here, often on the same shelf, with the cables tangled up like those iPod earbuds you put in your pocket for “just a few seconds.”

After weaving the intricate maze of cable separation, odds are you won’t have the cables you need, but don’t despair. With Goodwill’s prices, you can afford to buy the whole lot. You know you want to.

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