video game store lament

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I took my older son to a local game store (HO/RC) yesterday that specializes in used game systems and games, and lets you trade in old systems. He had a GameCube that he no longer wanted, and three games that we don't play--Super Mario Sunshine for GameCube, and Gran Turismo 3 and GTA Vice City for PS2.

They had a PS2 with a missing drive cover (perfectly functional) for $100, but only gave us $25 credit for the GC and games. When I challenged it, the owner was extraordinarily rude to me, suggesting that I drive around and find out all the places that would rip me off more, and then come back so he could rip me off for less. We had a few more exchanges like that, all of which involved him being extremely rude and dismissive towards me (after all, I'm just the stupid rich mom, right?).

What I should have done at that point was march out the door with our stuff in hand, bought a new slimline PS2 at Sam's (with 2 games included) for $150, and sold the rest on eBay. But I was tired, and stressed about my slew of upcoming trips, and he so wanted to get it right there and then (I'd been promising this for a while). So I went against my good instincts and did the transaction. It left me with a very sour taste in my mouth, though, and you can bet I won't be back in that store again--nor will I encourage anyone else to go there.

When I searched for HO/RC just now, I discovered that they're also a prolific eBay vendor--but with a reasonable number of negative and neutral reviews, which doesn't surprise me at all. I'd be careful doing business with them, if I were you. That attitude towards customers is a very bad sign.

Sometimes I think that what I ought to do is open up the ultimate gaming spot geared towards parents as well as their kids. There's not much out there that targets tweens, really. The hands-on museums are for the younger set. The game stores and arcades are more for the teenagers (and the parents hate being there). So why not create a place that tweens will love, and that their parents won't mind taking them? Model it on places like Chuck-E-Cheese, with food and drink available, and places to sit. Put in a coffee bar and free wifi so that parents are willing to hang out while their kids wander around and/or play. Set it up like CEC, so that kids can't leave without the adult who brought them--that lets the parents relax, possibly in a separate glass-walled area so their kids can be seen but not heard. Hire teenagers to work there, and have them wandering around, available to talk to/encourage the tweens who are the real target. Sell card games and video games and computer games, and provide space for kids to play--for a price. (Maybe a monthly fee...)

I'm not much of an entrepreneur, but I bet something like this would do really well. There's a huge market out there that's pretty much untapped for this age group and their parents. Give us gamer moms somewhere to go that doesn't leave them feeling the way I did when I walked out of HO/RC. Please.

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Out There from The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century :: Joey deVilla's Weblog on March 18, 2005 10:42 AM

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11 Comments

There's a place in Burlington, MA that's similar to what you describe in the last paragraph. It's somewhat like a Chuck-E-Cheese but with just arcade games. Flat rate fee, free games all you want. My cousin used to have birthday parties there.

It's funny that you mention Chuck-E-Cheese. Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, also started this franchise in order to target both kids and parents.

Welp I work at a large video game chain, and to me it seems like you made the mistake of going a bad store. There are some stores like the exchange, or different non-corperate stores that don't know what they are doing and dont' offer much in trade. The larger chains are more specialized and usually have better staff, however sometimes you run into some bad employees.

However your system and games are actually only worth like $35-$40. So don't be mad because you didn't get ripped off very bad. I would also suggest you buy a warranty on your "slim" PS2 because when Sony slimmed down the PS2 they took out the fan, and the thing overheats like non other. Also it is a video game machine made by Sony is bound to break, our stores take back atleast 3-5 broken a week, you can do the math when you multiply that by 1,600+ stores.

My suggestion is you find a better gaming store to shop at, and actually talk to the employees at these stores because they know stuff they do this for a living. And don't go off on them just ask simple questions if you get upset employess tend not to care about you as much.

fwiw, we had a similar experience with a store down our way years ago. our son was interested in trading in some games and the initial price we were offered at Store A was lower than I thought was reasonable, considering what I was seeing them sell their used games for. We left, but found that he actually had the best price. When we returned, of course, he lowered his offering price. I protested and he quickly resorted to rude name-calling to save face amongst his other customers.

I was teaching in the local elementary schools at the time and managed to mention it to all of my classes. I don't know if it did any good or not, but the grassroots protests have to start somewhere.

Travel well.

...

You hit the nail right on the head... These stores are usually like purchasing/trading in a used car. You get nil for trade-in value yet they sell them back for an ungodly amount somehow.

The sad part is, people put up with this, myself included. I have hardly ever traded anything back in since I collect this stuff, but purchasing some of the older things has proven to be ridiculous from time to time. Not to mention the customer service in these places... Their attitudes are reminiscent of a five-year-old more often than not.

Game Mania, off of Jefferson next to Buffalo Wild Wings, was somewhat of an exception - the staff was nice and when they had something I wanted it was easy to negotiate with them and they weren't rude. It was a very small store though, and it seems they recently went out of business or moved, I'm not sure.

Since I don't sell/trade-in, I can't offer advice for that, but for purchasing I suggest hunting around online - EB, GameStop, E-Bay, etc. Any place that sells used games usually has an inventory online with prices, this way you can compare and see what the going rate is for something you have your eye on. Remember, it's like dealing with used cars.

The idea of a newer, better Chuck E. Cheese is definitely something I would like to see, especially if it also serves as a place to buy/sell/trade-in new and used software and hardware. That, combined with an eating area like Barnes & Noble/Borders, wifi, an arcade and a test area for all of the new and used stuff would be really cool. :-)

That sounds like a really good idea. I'd probably hang out there with all the kids and their moms like a big dork hehe

HO/RC has *always* been bad news. I remember taking old NES games there only to be mocked and ridiculed. I must have been eight years old at the time and they made me so mad that I left without selling my games and I've still got them to this day.

It's a wonder the place is still in business.

Do not fear, there IS a fan in the slim PS2. It's obviously a lot smaller and quieter than the fan in the old PS2. You can see the fan here. Can you image a modern game system without a fan?

The "OMGWTFBBQ PStwo doesnt have a fan!!!" rumor basically originated from a plethora of teenagers hating on the new PStwo because they didn't have one. Gotta love the Internet...

The bad thing about the slim PS2 is that I think they made it so that you can't use a hard drive with it. That was definitely a smart thing for them to do if it is true, since the hard drive allows you to just copy games instead of buying them ...

You aren't really preventing anything by dropping the hard drive support though... My DVD burner can just as easily make copies. All I would need is a mod chip, and that's something you would need anyway even with hard drive support.

The whole issue with the fan in the slim model is the fact that load intensive games, such as Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo, overheat it very quickly, not to mention all of the CD spinning activity wearing out the optical components.

If Sony makes an LCD screen for it like they did with the PSone, perhaps I will pick one up (also after another price drop). Otherwise, my current model (which has progressive scan playback and the built in IR port for the newer model remote) works just fine, and I can still throw in the Final Fantasy XI or Linux hard drives.

I know im responding to an old post, but carlo you said Game Mania went out of business? I worked at Game Mania for a good 4 years. I hope they didn't go out :(

Very nice article. Thanks...

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on February 27, 2005 2:46 PM.

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