Game Store Tour & Interview: Video Games New York

Back in June, I made my first trip out to New York City to absorb some of the abundance of culture the city had to offer. While I was there. I made sure to take a cab over to VideoGamesNewYork to see what a big-city indie game shop had to offer.

The owner, Giulio, was nice enough to give me a tour of the shop and spend some time talking about the business and culture of running a game store with a strong retro focus.  (Additional conversation about how to successfully run an independant video game store has recently been posted as well)

My Thoughts

I’m aware that some locals think that VideoGamesNewYork is rather overpriced for many of its classic games, however, I had a good discussion with Giulio about that topic. It’s a bit of a dilemma for a brick-and-mortar game store. Retro games aren’t like new games where you can just order more at a wholesale price to meet your demand. You are limited to what people trade in. So if you price games too low, they sell quickly (Giulio mentioned games like Earthbound sell easily in just a few days at prices above $100).

I think it’s a challenge to find that sweet spot of pricing in order to balance the supply and demand curve. He realizes that he isn’t offering as good of deals as what you can find on eBay, but he feels that he is offering enough value in being able to see and touch the items beforehand to make it worth the extra price to the locals.

Personally, I did some decent prices on some items I was interested in – I ended up buying a Sega Saturn Hori fighter stick that was in very good condition. VGNY does a good job of cleaning up games and equipment that they get in and have a good policy about items that end up not working. You can’t say the same about eBay sellers.

So while you won’t be able to go on a bargain-filled shopping spree, it is a lot of fun to dig around for items of interest – many of which are priced fairly. Of course, it’s also cool to browse around in the showcases that house many of the more collectors items that aren’t so much for sale as they are for show. There’s a number of items in there that I had never seen in person.

It’s also worth mentioning that VGNY also offers repair services for all sorts of hardware (old and new) as its getting harder to find clean and functioning classic hardware as they years go by. Guilo also is looking forward to moving into a larger building once the current lease runs out so they can offer more retails floorspace and have more area to work on mods/repairs.

More Game Store Stuff & Community Involvement

I hope to do more of these type of videos documenting some of the few great gaming stores we have left in the US (and who knows maybe other parts of the worlds as well)

Do you know of some good game stores that I should check out? Please post them in this forum thread and I’ll try to visit them during whatever travels I may take.

Also, if you happen to have an HD camcorder and want to help out by interviewing your local store owners, let me know and we can collaborate on this project 🙂

Oh and feel free to subscribe to the Racketboy Youtube Channel — I hope to start doing more original video content from time to time.

28 Comments

  1. Casterofdreams says:

    I love this place. I’m a ferry and a train ride away from here and I found of randomly while looking for anything other than starbucks. It’s an amazing place just to go in and see the past laid out right in front of you. If you re ever in NYC go to this place, you won’t regret it.

  2. Radarscope1 says:

    “Please stop making movie games. Really, stop.” LOL

    Good stuff, RB. Love going to stores like this. Definitely want to look this place up when I go to NYC next. I wasn’t aware of it before my last trips there.

  3. millerjm2 says:

    Starland is a pretty neat place in Fairfax VA (outside of DC). Many of you are probably similar with there website estarland.com but their store is kind of neat too. It is tucked away in this brick building, the only way to find it was if you knew what you were looking for. No real signs saying video games inside or anything like that. Like VGNY, there prices aren’t really anything to get excited about but every once in awhile they will have a great sale; like buy one get one 70% off. They have some real cool sealed stuff in there too. Apparently some guy sends them sealed stuff all the time. He gives them the games at used prices too. Needless to say I am quite jealous of that connection. They have a decent sized collection of complete Genesis stuff too and their discs always look like new which is nice.

  4. dgm says:

    Great video, looking forward to more of these in the future.

  5. CurlyPaul says:

    I wish we had shops like that in the UK.

    I agree that being able to browse around a shop and look at a game before you buy it is a vastly superior experience to looking at ebay. You know the exact condition of the item and you can take it home right away. Thats worth a couple of extra quid in my book.

    Great video, thanks for sharing it

  6. I wrote about this place on my blog (click my name to read it), agreed that it’s a pricey place but some deals are to be had. I snagged Floigan Bros., Illbleed and a DC fighting pad for $30. I’ll definitively be back again! Though I won’t be walking out with bags filled with games.

  7. Brian says:

    I wish there was a place like this around where I live (Milwaukee). I can’t believe Earthbound goes for over a $100 now. I sold mine in the late 90s when I was younger to buy a N64 and I’ve always kinda regretted it. I did keep the box and manual for sentimental reasons 🙂

  8. Eddie says:

    That stores has a ton of games! Nothing like that here in New Mexico. The only used game store I’ve been in here is a complete rip off. I understand that service has a price and that you have to pay bills, but I’m not paying 30 bucks for a used N64 controller, or 10 for one that doesn’t work. Seems like the east coast has a good video game community.

  9. Snickerd00dle says:

    I think you may have said you have been there before, but videogame connection in cleveland is a great small game store, especially around here, as well as the chain the Exchange, who aside from movies music and records sell old games, awesome video, i would love to see more

  10. racketboy says:

    Yeah, I actually have some footage of Video Game Connection as well. Just need to edit it…

  11. Ziggy587 says:

    About an hour away from me if I take the LIRR, I’m gonna have to go some time.

  12. Jack says:

    Whenever I do get a chance to get out there, I’ll have to make this particular shop a pit stop. I work in a used game store and I’m always interested to see the competition.

  13. Tuukka J. says:

    Hey Racketboy!

    Thanks for the blog, it really is one of the best places to spend a lazy sunday in. 🙂

    Not sure how much there are good places in Finland to buy oldschool games from, but AFAIK most of the smaller gameshops still stock some used games for oldschool platforms. Though nothing in the scale of VGNY! 😀

  14. otaku says:

    If I ever hit new york (hopefully) this place along with some book shops will be on my shopping list!

  15. Alejandro Moreno says:

    This is awesome, racket. Hope to see some more!

  16. asdf says:

    i’ve been there and i was disappointed that the prices weren’t better, although i can see why he’s not in that kind of business. too bad, though.

  17. kometbomb says:

    An interesting video to watch while having my coffee. I can’t wait for the next one.

    The rule of overpriced games in shops like this definitively seems to hold over here in Finland, too. But I have to agree there is a difference between clicking a link on eBay and actually touching the boxes while browsing.

  18. garsh says:

    That was awesome! I can’t wait to see more. Boy am I envious of NYC residents who get to just go shop and browse at a place like that. I would totally buy an over-priced NES from Giulio.

  19. Matias says:

    Yeah, place is wonderfull, lots of stuff for most machines, I had difficulty to move around the store due to stuff around – and overprices in several items. I found dreamcast section cheapest and ended up buying VGA adapter which never worked.

    Having been in osaka dendentown area several times, this cannot compete. However, I am sure it is one of the best retro places around in west world.

  20. racketboy says:

    Well, they have a pretty good return policy — if the VGA box didn’t work, I’m sure they would refund/replace/fix it.

  21. I’ve been to this place a dozen times but never once met the owner. It’s good to see someone’s getting some face time with this dude.

    First off, I hate to say it, but I’m gonna have to call ‘bullshit’ on some of the things he’s saying to justify his prices. The problem of availability is a common concern for retro games stores, but it doesn’t seem to be as big of an issue for some other stores I’ve been to. Joe Santulli over at Digital Press in New Jersey buys and trades on eBay to get most of his stock, and sells it for significantly less than VGNY. Seriously, I’ve *never* seen a copy of Earthbound sell for over $100, save for in a handful of desperate eBay bidding wars. He also talks a lot about the importance of touching & feeling, but since almost everything in stock is behind glass, I always get a really strong ‘look but don’t touch’ vibe whenever I come here.

    Nevertheless, I’m really glad this store exists. I like the addition of the VG museum display and in general, the place is waaay more organized and fun to visit now than when it was St Marks Games.

    Good job, Nick. Let me know if you’re interested in visiting Digital Press in the near future 🙂

  22. racketboy says:

    Thanks for the comment, Zen
    I enjoyed the conversation time we had. He does seem like a good guy. I can’t really comment on the details of prices and such without actually seeing transactions take place.
    But you have to admit, the difference in the price of rent alone between New York City and New Jersey it probably enough to justify at least a little price difference.
    But what it REALLY comes down to is simple supply and demand.
    Nobody is going to stay in business if things are priced higher than people are willing to pay. Also, some stuff he admits he’s not looking to sell (take that into consideration as well).
    I’m sure over the years, he’s experimented with pricing (anybody in the retail business does) to find the sweet spot that works for his individual store. The same formula may not work in many other locations/stores.

    As someone who has experimented with online sales, I know some of the challenges Giulio and other store owners face. As a collector, I would, of course, like to see cheaper prices. Who wouldn’t? But I can respect the pricing decisions he’s made. And I did find what I thought was a good price on a Saturn Hori Fighting Stick and purchased it. I’ve been using it with a USB adapter for Street Fighter IV and couldn’t be happier.

    That being said, I do look forward to checking out Digital Press — I’m not sure why it didn’t cross my mind while I was out there 🙂

  23. scribes1188 says:

    I just met this dude today at Fan Expo in Toronto, his booth had a lot of nice stuff, two boxed Japanese Saturns, sealed Dreamcast game, and etc.

  24. I love VGNY. I use to go in to the St.Marks location to look at all the classic games. What I always found interesting was the selection of accessories. From original to aftermarket. I remember seeing a Virtual Boy kiosk in at the old location. I wonder of he sold it.

  25. racketboy says:

    The VB kiosk was still in the back 🙂

  26. Onyxthecat says:

    Just went here today and most of the stuff in the video was still there including the Virtual Boy kiosk. The prices were unbelievably over priced…$30 for Goldeneye loose? Come on. How is this place still open? I’ll stick to ebay and thrift stores.

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