Even though I’ve only recently started putting videos about my retro video game hunting adventures up on Youtube, I’ve actually been doing it for a lot longer. Over all that time, I’ve learned a bunch of things when going through charity shops, thrift stores, car boots and all those types of places. Because of this, I’ve decided to share a few tips and tricks that I tend to follow or use.
This article is primarily concentrating on stuff like games and technology in charity shops. However, I do think these tips and tricks can be used by any kind of bargain hunter. So, read on for my retro video game hunting tips.
Tip #1 – Be patient
My first tip is a really important one. If you go into a charity shop and expect to just find a whole bunch of really amazing deals straight away, then you will be sorely disappointed. Yes, I’ve found some fantastic deals in the past, but that’s because I go to charity shops a lot. And many of those times I’ve just absolutely nothing.
Sometimes all I find is the same stock that has been there for weeks. The stuff that they just can’t get rid of it. That is all part of going thrifting though. You’re really not going to find any bargains all the time. The amount of identical FIFA games I’ve found in so many different shops is unbelievable.
It is essentially a waiting game. If you have enough patience and go often enough, then you will eventually hit gold when retro video game hunting.
Tip #2 – Be respectful
What I mean by this is, if you go into a charity shop, just be respectful to the staff that work there. This also applies to just about any shop as well. I don’t know about other countries, but in England a lot of the people in charity shops are volunteers. Yeah, that’s right, they are voluntarily putting themselves into a customer-facing role. As anyone who has worked in a customer-facing role can attest, it can be extremely stressful. Especially when you get some customer who’s an idiot and is disrespectful. So yeah, a pretty basic tip, but one that I think people can tend to forget. Just be respectful to people.
One of the reasons why I bring this topic up is not just because it’s good to be respectful to people though. If you go into these charity shops multiple times a week, then more often than not you will be recognized by the staff members. The manager, the floor staff, etc. That’s good! You might have a good bit of banter with them. It can help foster a nice working and shopping environment too.
And most importantly, they might catch on to the fact that you are specifically looking for a certain type of item. There might be something in the back that hasn’t been put out yet. If they know they can sell it to you then they might hold something back or get in contact with you directly. I’m not saying this is a regular occurrence, or that you should expect this, but I’ve known it to happen before.
Tip #3 – Be open-minded
Don’t walk into a charity shop with a very closed narrow view about what you’re gonna find, and where you’re gonna find it. Chances are, you will miss out big time. The number of times I’ve found things in places I did not expect is innumerable. For example, the majority of my big box pc games were not found in the media section with the other games. They were found in the toys and board games section. To the average charity shop worker, it’s just a board game. They see a big box and they put it on the board game shelf. Or that’s the only place they have space for it. Might not fit into the media racks.
The same with PlayStation 1 games. They might actually be in the CD section due to their case shape and size. Cassette games for something like the ZX Spectrum might be mixed in the audio cassettes. It’s always just worth looking at places that you wouldn’t think these things would be. I’ve found games and consoles in the random bric-a-brac section rather than the electronics section. Just keep an open mind. Expect the unexpected. Have a good rummage, because you genuinely don’t know what you might be missing. That’s one of the best things about a charity shop. You don’t know what you’re going to find until you get in there.
Tip #4 – Be spontaneous
Usually, when I go on charity shop runs, there’s a set path I take around my city. I know where all the decent spots are and I go to them as much as possible. There are the local charity shops which I go to all the time. All this is good. It is fine to have a planned route. It’s also really good to be spontaneous. Heading off to charity shops in sections of the city that you wouldn’t normally go to. Maybe dropping in at different times. I’ve dropped into my local charity shop on my lunch break from work and managed to find a whole bunch of seriously cheap Playstation 1 games. If I’d waited until the afternoon, then they might have been gone.
It’s also worth going to charity shops in different cities. Whenever I go somewhere different, I always spend a bit of time seeing what I can find. A quick five-minute look and you might find some absolute bargains!
Tip #5 – Be in control
My fifth and final tip is probably the most important. Even if you head into a charity shop you find some fantastic things, if you don’t have the money or the space for it then don’t buy anything. It might be a fantastic bargain but if you just cannot afford it then just leave it. Sometimes I feel like the thrill of the chase can become too intoxicating, especially if you have a slightly obsessive personality like I do.
When heading into a charity shop or something like an event, I always have a budget in mind. If I see a game that is just too expensive, I will leave it. If I don’t feel comfortable paying for it right now, there’s always a chance in the future. It might be in another charity shop for even cheaper! It does have to be said that some charity shops aren’t great at pricing their video games. I’ve seen worthless games priced up far higher than they should be. There’s also a bit of a bubble with video games at the moment, with prices being artificially boosted.
I know some people might argue that it’s for charity, but if someone can’t afford to pay for something, there shouldn’t be that pressure just because it’s for charity. No point in putting yourself out of pocket.
So anyway, those are my five tips for having a good thrifting experience. Be patient, be respectful, be open-minded, be spontaneous, and most of all, be in control.
If you follow these five retro video game hunting tips then the chances you will have a positive experience should increase. Check out my video below if you want to see the video this post was based on.