The Unabridged Adventures in Flea Marketing: Volume I
*Editor’s Note* The following tale took place over a year ago as of April 2016
Well well well folks, it’s time once again for another edition of…
Oh crap, this is the first entry.
Welcome to a little segment I like to call “The Unabridged Adventures in Flea Marketing!”
Usually, I write video game reviews, but I’ve decided to share with you wonderful readers some excerpts from past exploits that have helped me to build my precious collection. With that said, we begin our dynamic adventure into the trenches of treasure cove!
I’ve been going to the flea market for about 14-15 years now. I used to go all the time with my beloved father. He and I shared a passion for trinket hunting, living out the phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Back then, I would look for toys and games as any child would. My dad? Well as far as I can remember he’d usually pick up boring household things. But what an experience it was. We had a blast. Not to mention other time-honored traditions that went along with our weekend crusades (all food related). The deals, the deals, the deals.
And now I continue this tradition in the hopes of feeding my unhealthy collecting habits.
What am I a collector of now, you may ask? Honestly, it tends to fluctuate. I’ve gone from toys and video games to VHS tapes, to DVDs, to CDs, to records, and now…back to video games.
What started out as a humble effort to recapture the games of my childhood became a full out obsession to cultivate a large and impressive video game collection. And as the years have passed, a growing interest in retro game collecting has dried up the once flowing rivers of 2-for-$5 game cartridge bins to a mere puddle of sports titles. What a disappointment.
Video game hunting, as a result, has become a futile effort for me; a fruitless struggle to find one game that I am semi-interested in for just a few bucks less than the price lords of eBay would hustle out of me. Still, I have made a few attempts to recapture this magical era of my youth but have come up with nothing better than a copy of Double Dragon III for $4 at a pawn shop. Until last Saturday…
Chapter 1: I Don’t Want to Wake Up!
So here I am arriving home at about midnight Saturday, the night before I was to join a friend at the flea market. I had once tried going at 5 AM, but that proved to be way too early. 7 AM seemed like a good, solid time to check out the bargain battlegrounds. But here was the dilemma: a late night closing shift and a delay at the malicious hands of a speed trap left me with less time to sleep. So I laid in bed for hours, panic-stricken that I would not fall asleep. And that is exactly what happened.
By the time my alarm went off at the oh-so-charming hour of 6, I was about ready to simply text my friend “Fuck you,” or “We’re not friends anymore,” just to save me from having to go to the flea market on literally zero sleep. But alas, friendship prevailed, and I soldiered on.
Chapter 2: The Arrival
“Oh of course you’re running late,” I thought, as I phoned him at 7 – on the highway mind you. I was late too, so I couldn’t blame him. But I arrived before he did. And you know what? He can catch up with me.
So I set off, entering those feral grounds at the delicate hour of 7:30. The world was my oyster, and little did I know of the treasures that were waiting to find me.
Chapter 3: The Dollar Table
I get the call. But there’s…there’s a model 1 Sega Genesis just sitting there. Waiting to be claimed.
Hurriedly I jogged back to find my friend and then rushed him through the first aisle. Junk. What you’re looking for, I have already found. I guided him to where it mattered. The man with the Genesis.
Now I already have a Sega Genesis. Of course I do – what kind of a collector do you think I am? Well, apparently I’m the kind who will buy another unit of a console I already own just because it is a different model.
The Genesis 1
So much cooler than the Genesis 2. With those lines, the headphone jack, volume switch…its name in big bold letters. The weight of a console that had muscled its way into a Nintendo-dominated market and left the competition in the dust with its “Blast Processing,” as it were. It really is a thing of beauty – unlike the second iteration which is simple, standard, understated…the kind of console that is overconfident, arrogant. Conscious of its dominance now but unaware of the downfall ahead. Oh boy, I’m getting too deep into this aren’t I?
Can you blame me? This is how I felt when I saw it. Not that I had never seen one before, but you know. Back then I wasn’t at this deeply depraved level of collecting where I would shell out cash for different versions of the same thing.
Only problem was it was a bit dirty and had no cords. So I asked the man “How much?” To my surprise, he tells me that everything on that table is a dollar.
A dollar?? Hot damn! Sold!
You can’t beat that, even if it doesn’t work!
So I snatched that up along with a cordless N64 and a 6-button Genesis controller. Not bad for $3. (**Spoiler alert** Everything works.)
And my friend, the special guest star of this episode as “The Fool.” He passed up a dollar Dreamcast because it was rough. Well, so did I. But I have one. Moving along.
Chapter 4: The Score
Oh, wait now, you thought that was the score? Oh ho ho, well aren’t you in for a treat then. Because what I found next was something I had never dreamed of adding to my ever-expanding collection.
As we rounded the corner to the next aisle I was still beaming from what I thought was my big score. Immediately following, I spotted the very thing that would renew my faith in flea markets and thrifting altogether. It took a moment for my brain to register, and even longer for me to realize the implications, but what I saw was real.
A Super Famicom
For those of you who don’t know, Super Famicom is the Japanese Super Nintendo. And what it was doing at a flea market I can only begin to imagine. But that hardly matters. It was there. And I saw it a split second first.
As soon as it registered in my mind what I was seeing, I heard my friend utter “Well look at that.” Yup, he saw it too. But that’s too bad because he could hardly contest with the swift “Dibs” I threw at him. He knew from that moment on I was calling the shots on this deal.
Upon closer inspection I saw that this slightly dew-kissed system (it was early in the morning…and it’s Florida, what do you expect?) was in otherwise great shape with mild yellowing on the bottom casing. It sat in a box with 5 genuine Japanese games, two controllers, and an American copy of Pokémon Stadium for N64. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m not one to argue.
After a few moments of us gawking, I decided to go in for the kill. I asked how much. The dealer said $60. A fair price, sure, but more than I could justify spending. Also, my friend wanted it, and I was wrestling with the idea of letting him have it (It took me a while to realize I wanted it at least as much as he did, and he’s more willing to find things on eBay than I am anyhow). The dealer warned me that it was missing the hookups. That’s a dilemma too. So I used that as ammunition for a counteroffer of $40.
(Now I’ve never been great at haggling,nor is it something I am particularly comfortable doing, but what follows is the story of a boy haggler out in the dusty field earning his stripes.)
He thinks it over, mutters how he wasn’t supposed to let it go for any less, then throws a $50 offer at me. I mulled it over. I asked if he could verify in any possible way that it worked. He said his stuff usually works.
Well, that’s not enough of a guarantee to risk $50 on. Even $40. But honestly, how could anybody pass up the latter price?
I was about ready to turn to my friend and say “You want it?” The dealer sensed this. He smelled the firmness of my offer. And he bit.
“Alright, I’ll take $40,” he said bitterly as he began stuffing the spoils of my victory one by one into a plastic bag, my excitement growing with each item added. Even the Pokemon game? Yes, even that. He gave me everything for a mere $40.
A find, the likes of which, I have not had in years.
Chapter 5: Conclusion
And that, my friends, is what happened. The story of the greatest find I have had, possibly in my entire flea marketing career. Oh, and there were a couple DVDs along the way too, but who cares? I am now the proud owner of a Super Famicom.
It was a good day. More than just a find, it was an affirmation. An affirmation that I can still practice this hobby that I once loved so much.
Hopefully this will serve as inspiration for any of you hopeless collectors out there who believe there’s no point, that you’ll never find the things you’re looking for.
Now to find an AC adapter…
Until next time,
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