Every now and then, when visiting different parts of the US, I like to track down independent or small-chain game stores and report my findings to the Racketboy community.
While in on a road trip back in July, I was able to spend some time in the wonderful city of St. Louis (serious, I recommend visiting if you’re in the area). Just outside of St. Louis, is the town of Fenton, MO which is home to Trade N Games. (See complete set of pictures of the store)
Appearance and Initial Impressions: 9/10
For an independent game store, it doesn’t get much better than this. I’ve seen a few that were a bit slicker, but they didn’t have as much inventory to deal with. So props to Jason and the Trade N Games staff for making the place so attractive and browsable while dealing with a high level of inventory. Even with my GPS, it was just a bit tricky to find the store, but it’s definitely worth the trip out of your way.
Customer Service: 10/10
Granted, Jason and the staff knew I was coming, so they could have been putting on an act, but I like to think I’m a pretty good judge of character and know when people are “faking it”. Jason seemed to be a genuinely friendly guy and knew his stuff quite well. While I was interviewing him, I also paid attention to how the other staff members interacted with other customers that came in and out of the store and they all seemed very helpful. They answered people’s questions efficiently and helped them find what they were looking for.
Trade N Games is filled with multi-platform nostalgia. Not only are the shelves and counters jam-packed with games, systems, and accessories, but the walls are filled with classic-gaming décor. Jason, mentioned that the extra items aren’t for sale, but only for giving the store a more enjoyable feel.
While I was in the store, it was also fun listening in on other customers. When one older gentleman walked in the door, he was greeted with a casual, “is there anything I can help you find?”. He quickly responded with “how ‘bout some 3DO games?”. In my experience, that’s not a common request in the stores I frequent. The cool thing was, Trade N Games actually had some 3DO titles in stock. Jason also mentioned [in the extended version of the video interview] that Trade N Games has quite a few kids that visit the store on their quest to building a collection of NES cartridges. Personally, I’d love to witness the type of youthful excitement for classic games that some of his customers have displayed.
For the most part, the game selection is very browsable. Sometimes, display boxes are only shown and you need to ask to get the actual cart. Because of space constraints, N64 and Gameboy carts are all behind glass.
Retro Game Selection: 9/10
I was very impressed with the offerings the store had – especially for the prices they were selling at. In the retro game business, it’s very hard for a store to strike the balance between price and selection. Most of the time, if the games are especially affordable, the stock gets depleted of the “good stuff” very quickly. But Jason and the Trade N Games team seems to have mastered the fine art of keeping a good selection in stock and pricing them fairly. Of course, since the prices are fair, you probably won’t find every single item on your personal wish list in stock, but you will find quite a few in most cases.
As with most stores I’ve visited, the stock seems to favor the Nintendo platforms most, but the store also had a good selection of Genesis titles in addition to a handful of Dreamcast and Saturn games (much better than most stores). They also carry a bunch of classic Atari games in addition to a handful of titles for more obscure platforms.
More modern and popular platforms like the Playstations, Xboxes, Gamecube, and Wii are all strongly represented with good values.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can browse the store’s website (tradengames.com) to see additional inventory and, if you really want, you can walk into the store and ask for certain items from the site’s inventory (they are in the back room)
Trade N Games definitely has found the sweet-spot of retro game pricing. Everything is very fair and you will find a few good values in there (compared to buying on eBay/Amazon). If they were any cheaper, they would most likely having a hard time keeping things in stock. Some of the more popular Mario games might be a bit more expensive than what they sell for on eBay, but they try to keep these in stock for the people that are just starting out with the system – totally understandable.
Game Condition: 10/10
In addition to fair prices and solid selection, Trade N Games prides itself on the condition of the games it sells. It won’t buy items in crappy condition, prices things according to if it’s boxed or not, and does high-quality resurfacing on all disc-based games.
They also clean and test all games, systems and accessories before selling them. It’s a wonderful feeling when you know you can buy with confidence and not have to worry about searching for items in the condition that meets your standards.
Online Experience: 10/10
Most of the comments about price and selection from above still apply here, but the most specific elements of the online experience are exceptional. The site is well organized and easy to use and order. Each item has good pictures of the actual item you are ordering. I ordered a Gameboy Color, a complete Sega Saturn and Sega CD game, in addition to a couple of Genesis games for some of my cart-only games. Everything arrived in pristine condition and packed wonderfully in plenty of bubble wrap and durable boxes. Shipping was super-quick too. It’s everything you wish eBay would be.
Bottom Line: 9.5/10 – Possibly the Best Retro Game Stores I’ve Visited
Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than Trade N Games. I haven’t experienced what I would consider a 10/10. In this day, I don’t know if one could exist – but maybe I’ll find one someday. Until then, I’ll just look forward to the day I can visit Jason and the crew again.
Overall, it’s a great place to shop to round out your collection without spending a whole ton of money. The selection is very nice and the prices are more than fair. The addition of things like extra game boxes and manuals are a very nice touch for people like me that want to upgrade their existing collections.
Their online store is also very solid and I still check back to score some nice deals for excellent-condition items.
Have You Been To Trade N Games?
Have you ever visited the store? What did you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below 🙂