Indiana Moe and the Raiders of the Cheap Consoles
By Mitchell ‘Moe’ Long
7:30 AM, Saturday Morning
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he irony of the Roots crooning “Lazy Afternoon” fills the room as my cell phone alarm blares from a tinny speaker. I unwind from a straightjacket of thick, blue and green tye-dyed comforter and scour the floor for the cleanest pair of sweatshorts. Shuffling downstairs, I brew an 8-cup French press, and peruse the scant articles in the ad-riddled paper while waiting for the coffee to steep. 7:55 and I’m out the door.
Why up so early on a Saturday, you ask? Yard sales, my weekend tradition. While we typically associate garage sales with musty books, moth-ball scented clothes, and tacky knick knacks, who knows what a dig through boxes, piles, and bags may turn up. As a vinyl collector, I’ve scored some frighteningly cheap records. The greatest hits: “Stairway to Heaven,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Clubs Band,” and “Magical Mystery Tour,” $3 total. A willingness to scavenge pays off.
However, there’s an under-appreciated niche in yard sales: gaming. Consoles and games aren’t standard garage sale fare, but when they do appear it’s usually at criminally low prices. A month ago, amid stacks of rusty tools, knitting supplies, and empty CD cases, I spotted a familiar purple shape: a Nintendo Gameboy Advance. A closer inspection revealed that a Gameboy Color copy of “Wario Land 3” resided in the console.
Simply curious as to cost, and with no actual intention of purchasing the device, I asked: “How much for the Gameboy?” Predicting a $15-$20 price tag, I was pleasantly surprised at the response. “Let’s say $1. Deal of the day.” Fumbling for my wallet I unfurled a crumpled dollar bill, threw it at the host, muttered a hurried “thanks” and sprinted to the car before the confused seller could change her mind. $1. That’s cheaper than a Coke Zero at the gas station. Yes, dear readers, the GBA actually functions flawlessly.
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y next gaming gem came a few weeks later. Armed with my travel coffee mug, I wove in between three crowded tarps of assorted goods, growing irritable that I’d driven a whopping 10 minutes for nothing. Thankfully, a bulky black square with a green orb in the middle glinted in the overcast day: an original Xbox planted between a Halloween potholder and a box of paintball guns. “How much for the Xbox,” I absentmindedly inquired. “10 bucks,” a lady wearing an orange Home Depot apron responded. “Come on, it’s a steal,” she added. It wasn’t until I was in the car on the way home, my newly discovered Xbox in the passenger seat beside me, that I remembered my purchase. My gamer instincts assumed control.
Eager to test the machine, I took the stairs two at a time and plopped on the carpet in front of the TV to add another console to my ever-expanding arsenal. To my dismay, unfurling the ball of wires showed that I’d been given an Xbox 360 AV cable and power cord instead of the original Xbox versions. Assuming my best McGyver persona, I remembered an old set of Playstation 2/Xbox/Xbox 360 component/AV cables from GameStop, and retrieved them from a wad of miscellaneous technology accessories. A quick Google search solved my power cord dilemma. Apparently Microsoft used an obnoxiously common cable which I found wrapped around an ancient external harddrive. A $3 copy of “Halo” from the local thrift store later and I was enjoying my newest gaming find.
While video games and consoles are comparative rarities at yard sales, don’t be so hasty in dismissing the next “Garage Sale Saturday” sign you see. Chances are you won’t find a reasonably priced Playstation 4, Xbox One, or Wii U. Heck, you probably won’t even find a cheap Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. However, a little dedication will yield a classic game or console for an irresistibly low price. Plus all those early mornings of returning home empty handed merely sweeten the Saturday you bound up the stairs with a gaming gem cradled in your arms.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/moe.jpg” ]Mitchell “Moe” Long is a North Carolina writer with a passion for all things pop culture. Besides gaming, Moe enjoys cult classic films, listening to vinyl, and drinking far too much coffee. In addition to Cliqist, Moe writes about music and movies, and is currently composing what he hopes will one day be a novel about the universally awkward period of life known as high school. Feel free to check out and subscribe to his Examiner page as well as connect with him on Twitter. [/author]