This entry marks a day in flea market history where I am all but ready to hang up my marketing boots.
This would never happen, of course, but today – nay, this weekend – has been nothing but discouragement and frustration.
Let’s just dive right in.
Chapter 1: It’s Cold!
So I’ve been cooped up in the mountains of Asheville for the last several weeks in an attempt to “find myself.”
I’m still looking, and offering a reward of 5,000 rupees to anyone who can find me.
All things considered, adjusting to a new climate has been…how should I say this?
Migrating North in the dead of winter is not the best idea, but surprisingly enough I adapted quite well. Waking up at 6 AM against your better judgment, however, can be physically painful. I turned on the space heater and allowed it to warm my bones for a solid two hours. As the minute hand closed in on half past eight, I was ready to gear up and face the cold.
Chapter 2: Arrival
I made it to a nearby flea market I had scoped out a week before. The first visit was bleak, but this time it looked more promising.
I began my journey looking for…you guessed it!
No, video game collectibles you dolt. Come on, get with the program. We’re already on Volume 5 now, I shouldn’t have to spell it out for you.
Soon after my arrival, I encounter an N64 controller- wait, Playstation- Gameboy games?
This guy’s a video game dealer. Not always the best prospect in this day and age, but hey, gives me something to look at.
I asked the man if I could rummage through his meager offerings, to which he agreed.
I don’t remember specific numbers, but let’s just say the prices bordered on offensive. I didn’t even bother to say goodbye.
I soldiered on. Found a neat Pac-Man frame. They wanted $10 for it – a price I’d certainly mull over.
Chapter 3: The Rounds
I finished my first pass with very little to wet my appetite. Perhaps a stray controller (for god knows what) here and there, but otherwise not a single item of interest. I proceeded to wander about through the indoor section simply to pass time; surely more vendors were on their way.
After a fair amount of dawdling, I decided to step out into the freezing cold once again. Second time around was fuller, but not much better. I did get excited when I spotted a Gamecube inside a shed full of junk. This find was not astounding by any means, but it did show potential for what could exist beyond the outer crusty surface.
I asked if any other video game equipment might lay idly ensconced in the deep innards of this storage shed. (And yes, this is exactly how I posed the question to the proud shed owner)
The short of it was…
So, with a day full of nothing but disappointment, I humbly purchased a pair of wool socks and some batteries. Excellent prices…but that was all.
Chapter 4: A Friendly Face – Promising Terrain Ahead
After doing one final pass through “Storage Shed Alley,” I saw a guy with comics, VHS tapes, and other assorted goods. Naturally, my nostrils were greeted by the sweet scent of video game potential.
I asked, but “no” was the answer yet again. However, a pleasant conversation ensued where he informed me of a video game dealer who usually had a table set up. That particular day he was not present.
This good fellow (whom I will refer to as “Ted”) texted said dealer for me and even went so far as to introduce himself and welcome me to the area. He encouraged me to come back the next day, so I decided I would. Why not, right? Who knows what could come of it?
Suffering? Misery? Regret?
Chapter 5: Round Two
I woke up the next morning suffocated by the unforgiving cold. I looked at the clock and thought “nobody’s going to be out this early.” Instead, I opted for the paltry warmth offered to me by my blanket.
Finally, I dragged my ass out of bed, threw on some clothes and set out, retreading that familiar path. And when I arrived I saw a higher volume of sellers.
Beginning my rounds, I encountered a modest setup with a few games of interest. Then my eye was stolen by a- what’s that now?
The glimmer of a golden cart.
Ocarina of Time.
“$35,” he joyfully responded to my inquiry.
Not unreasonable, but not a flea market price. Or rather, what flea market prices used to be.
I looked at his other items; all priced fair, but still high in my opinion (considering the venue). Sadly that’s just the world we live in now. I noticed some Genesis games (dubbed “Genesis Crust” by me and my regular flea market cohort) and got a price from him. I decided to call and consult with my friend Frank and see if he was interested. From there, I could hopefully engage in some form of bundling – the only way to get a good price anymore in this cutthroat market that once belonged to the fleas.
No answer from Frank. Time to move on.
I resumed the rounds but found little else of interest. I finally made it to the dealer who was so highly esteemed by Ted. When I landed, I saw the table was fairly barren – not the goldmine my colorful imagination had envisioned.
I stared long and hard at the table, hoping somehow a gem would materialize in front of me. Such sorcery does not exist in this life, unfortunately, so I left without a find to speak of.
With one round under my belt, I checked in with Ted. We spoke for a bit until Frank called. It was now down to business; hard negotiations were about to begin and no prisoners were to be taken.
Chapter 6: Down to Business
We chatted for a while. Frank was not super excited about the Genesis Crust, however, when Donkey Kong Country surfaced from my flickering memory, he demonstrated mild intrigue. I returned once again to examine the goods. When I told him the Genesis games were missing instructions he officially declined; however, I did spot Super Mario World – a game he still needed. I told the vendor I’d be back.
Far away from prying ears, we discussed numbers. He said he’d be willing to do $20 on DK Country and SMW. With his figures in place, I decided on what I wanted and a number I’d go for.
I returned once more. I asked the vendor if he’d consider a discount on bundled items and he said he would, so I grabbed the two games already mentioned and added two of my own: Super Mario Galaxy 2 and, of course, the golden gem itself – Ocarina of Time. I set these four games in front of him and asked what he was thinking.
“Make me an offer,” he boldly suggested.
-well, I mean, if you insist-
“Would you do $50?”
Yes, $50! The real deal! The big kahuna! My lucky number!
At that price, I’d get Ocarina and Galaxy 2 for $30.
I carefully observed his expression – the subtle shifting of his features – hoping I could read where his mind was going.
Slowly I saw his countenance shift from that of possibility to total rejection.
“No, the lowest I could do is $70.”
So, $50 I’d be paying for Ocarina and Galaxy 2? Drat…
I took away Galaxy 2 and asked what he’d do on the three remaining games.
Now he’s speaking my number. Only it’s not as sweet as before.
Also, at this point, it hit me I was ten dollars short.
I sat on this figure for a while, then made a motion for my wallet. In light of my current situation, I found it was time to try out the old “China Town Method.”
What’s the China Town Method, you may ask?
This was the same question I had for Frank when he introduced said concept to me.
According to Frank, you take from your wallet the cash you want to spend and wave it in front of the seller. This is done to entice the purveyor to accept your offer – a sort of bait if you will. And it was named as such because his father would pull this stunt whenever they were together in China Town.
I took out all my cash and counted.
“Looks like I only have forty on me. Would you take this for the games?”
I waved it in front of him with a supple wrist. He went through the same process; some deliberation, followed by a rejection of the amount at hand.
Wow. The China Town method failed.
I told him I might take more money out of the ATM, but in all likelihood this was to be a wash.
Chapter 7: The ATM Dilemma
I waited in line at the ATM to see how much it would cost to pull more cash. When my turn came, I noticed it would not let me take anything less than $20.
Well of course, why hadn’t I thought of that? Most ATMs probably only have twenties in them. Ahh, it’s not worth it anyway. I can’t believe I was seriously considering dropping $50 on those three games. I’m sorry, I can’t justify $30 on Ocarina…even if it is an… *gulp* …okay price.
I left the ATM.
At this point I was fairly certain that the day was a wash, so I walked over to my new friend and chatted him up a little more. He was quite a nice guy. We had a good, long conversation. The kind of conversation that tosses all caution to the wind with regards to time and the ever-diminishing supply of goods around you. I didn’t think there was much reason to keep looking, but in the back of my head I figured “Why not? Might as well do one more quick pass before I go.” But certainly it didn’t matter when. Well, the minutes flew by, accumulating into about a half hour or so. I told him I’d have one more pass and come back.
If only I knew.
Chapter 8: Game Over
So I made my rounds, not expecting much of anything. Passed the same old, same old. Passed the guy with Ocarina. I eyed the table and didn’t see it, though it may have still been there. I shook his hand and thanked him for negotiating. While I did genuinely appreciate his willingness to work with me, I’m not above admitting I was hopeful he’d reconsider my offer, though from the looks of it, the centerpiece of the deal was gone. And from there, the rounds continued.
I stopped dead in my tracks.
What’s this I see?
Some old bastard holding a thick stack of Genesis games. By god!
He bought them all, including a console! That son of a bitch!
And is that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist??
Obviously the games were priced to sell – the kinda price I want to pay. Otherwise he wouldn’t have grabbed them all.
And to think, if I had exercised the slightest bit of discipline and broken off from the conversation five minutes early…
…they would have been mine…
So there’s a lesson to this story kids: Be aggressive! Take the rounds seriously! And never never NEVER underestimate your chances, lest you miss out on a killer deal.
Do I have any regrets?
Well, of course I do. But that’s my problem. The truth is, I met a real nice fellow, had a good conversation, and got a chance to explore what Asheville had to offer. Sure, I can be a bad sport sometimes, but in all honesty, that’s just the way the game is played. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
I hope that guy was buying the Genesis bundle as a gift for somebody or for himself. Because if he’s another dirty reseller…
Until next time…