Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'Twas the Day After Christmas...

'Twas the day after Christmas, and I was up visiting my wife's family. We had some free time in the afternoon to do some wrap-up shopping for the folks we had yet to see. Having done the majority of my holiday shopping as last-minute tactical Wal-Mart strikes and rush-shipped Amazon.com purchases, I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to take my time browsing somewhere.

If you've read this blog for any period of time, you probably know how rooted in the past my interests are. About the only things I buy that aren't at least three years old are groceries (and even then there have been some mishaps). Especially when the majority of stores in my area are relentlessly modern corporate chains, it's refreshing to find any place--particularly one that's independently owned--specializing in old and uncommon items.

I had to exercise a tremendous amount of self-control when I found such a place on our shopping trip: shelf after shelf of new and used DVDs, CDs, comics, and video games. And I mean video games--beyond the entire rows of Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation games, there were display cases of Game Boy, GameCube, N64, Genesis, SNES, NES, and even Atari 2600 games, many of which were still in their original packaging. I saw the original Gradius in a box, and smiled.

Having grown so accustomed to the sleek, modern selections at Best Buy, it was interesting to see the "definitive" (and bulky) box sets of all the Rocky and Die Hard movies except the ones released in the last decade. It was wild to see multiple unorganized stacks of CDs by such artists as 38 Special, Melissa Etheridge, Jars of Clay, and Genesis all selling for as little as $0.49. It was almost overwhelming to see an entire wall of the store showcasing everything from Mega Man 4 to Mega Man Battle Network 2 to Mega Man Soccer. There may also have been other games.

I've been gradually letting go of this buying mindset I adopted some years ago, which tells me I should never pass up geek paraphernalia that's either unlikely to be so easily found again or on sale at an unusually low price. For a diehard collector with money to spare, that's arguably a fine mindset to have. For a guy in a store filled to the brim with great deals on items that went out of print in 1996, buyer discretion is advised.

I managed to impose on myself what seemed like some reasonable limits: no comics (our annual comics shop trip is just a few days away), no more than one item of each type (e.g.: DVD, CD, SNES cartridge, Game Boy Advance cartridge), and nothing I wasn't already considering picking up before seeing it on the shelf (to discourage me from padding my generally complete NES and GameCube collections). Reasonable, yes?

Well, reasonable enough. And it costs nothing to ogle. I went on a field trip, and even without entrusting the cashier with my life's savings, I still had a field day.

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