Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice
Epic Yard Sale Tale

Matthew McKeague | 29 Aug 2006 12:04
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Gem number three
Weeks later in another small town named Howard, I found myself lost in a sea of women's clothing, with no electronics in sight. Or so it seemed. Under a table, I spied a seemingly out-of-place giant green tub. With a glimmer of hope, I approached it and pulled the top off. The result: Nirvana. The tub was filled with over 100 Sega Genesis games.

"I'll give you all of it for $20," said the lady behind the table. "I don't even know how they got here."

Part of me was appalled - someone had probably spent years amassing these games. Playing them and loving them. A piece of this mystery person's life was being sold for a pittance alongside piles of slips, skirts and blouses. I was, in effect, rooting through the discarded corpse of some unknown person's memories, picking at the bones. On the other hand, there were a ton of games in that tub, and I had to restrain myself from acting like a giddy school girl as I searched the pile for a few of my long-sought favorites.

A giant stockpile of games for $20 is definitely a deal, but most of the games in the tub were also back at my house in my own collection, so I moved on, leaving the find to someone whose collection wasn't as complete, and perhaps salving my own feelings of remorse at committing a sin I'd never wish on any gamer, least of all myself.

Though I left the Howard yard sale empty handed, I did purchase a number of games throughout my travels. Some I had been interested in, but for which I had never wanted to pay full price, while others were games I'd needed to replace because I'd stupidly sold them as a child to buy something cooler.

I also purchased games if they seemed interesting enough and were close to rental price, because even if they were terrible, they still make wonderful stocking-stuffers for my unsuspecting friends. And even though I didn't stumble upon any earth-shaking finds, after fighting through hoards of EA sports titles and other videogames that didn't catch my interest, I did return home with a bag full of videogame-related goodies.

At the end of my adventure, I wiped my prizes with an antibacterial soap (you never know where yard sale objects have been), spread them out on the table and tried to calculate how much I'd saved over "suggested retail." Altogether, I'd brought home almost $500 worth of videogame-related objects for $10.

You can save lots of money if you're willing to wake up early and go on a yard sale adventure. And sure, there's a thrill in getting a bargain and bringing home an old game for nostalgia's sake, but a lot of what makes getting out and rooting through suburbia's "junk" is just being out there with other people. I ran into a kid who, in 10 years, might be more of a hardcore gamer than I am or might even design the next Mario or Halo. That encounter alone was worth more than the $10 I spent, and would never have happened on eBay.

Matthew McKeague is a freelance writer and journalism graduate student at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at yankovicfarley [at] hotmail [dot] com.

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