For videogame collectors and fans, there’s no place like a flea market. The thrill of the hunt, the hope of hidden treasure, the bargains, and the variety all draw gamers to booths like Mario to power-ups. Consider what one blogger said earlier this year:
“While eBay will net you anything you want (as long as you can pay) I find it so much more satisfying to browse the flea markets and pawn shops. Not only are the prices lower (and open to negotiation) but shopping online can’t compare to the feeling of walking into a flea market stall, spotting a stack of those familiar gray cartridges, and thumbing through them to discover that elusive copy of Mega Man 6 you have been hunting for months.”
Videogame players write on their blogs about which flea markets to shop and what they buy They also love to post videos, vlogging on a great $5 antique videogame find and these scenes from a flea market, for example. There’s an active and engaged part of the buyer community prowling flea markets and swap meets.
What’s the take-away for flea market vendors? Jordan Murari, who sold videogames at O’Donnell’s Bellingham Flea Market until he was able to open his own store, says that “at the flea market, the retro stuff is the way to go. The new stuff barely moved. All of the older stuff — the Super Nintendo and the Nintendo 64 — that’s what the people were excited to find. That’s what we sold a lot of.”
Murari, co-owner of JA Games in Lynden, Wash., has some advice for new videogame vendors. “Be patient. Since people aren’t always expecting to find videogames at the flea market, it takes a few weeks for them to tell their friends and cousins and nephews about it,” he says. “People kind of looked at us a little strange the first couple weeks we were there. After a couple months, people started coming to the flea market because we were there.”
John Drdek, director of marketing at Innex, is a wholesaler who distributes videogame products to vendors nationwide. He says that a lot of flea market shoppers are looking for retro items. “So many people have big stacks of original Nintendo games in their attic or basement, but they’re missing a console that works, or maybe they just need a controller or power supply,” Drdek says, pointing to an opportunity for flea market and swap meet vendors.
His company sells players and controllers that will work with the many second-hand game cartridges that vendors are selling. “One of our best sellers is the Retro-Duo, a console with two slots that allows you to play Nintendo and Super Nintendo games,” he says, noting that Innex is the exclusive supplier and offers special flea market pricing for vendors.
Drdek says another noteworthy hot product are toys and food with videogame themes. “Another big seller that’s being doing great at flea markets is our collection of videogame-themed snacks and toys,” he says. “They make the perfect stocking stuffers!”