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The advent of the video game ushered in a new era not only of entertainment but of technological innovation and even art. Many gadgets and devices may be designed for planned obsolescence, but there is a culture of gaming that seeks out not just the latest arrival but retro and nostalgic systems of yore. It is challenging for a store of any kind to stay current on everything in their field, let alone maintain stock and inventory on what was popular in prior years. But one shop has all your gaming needs covered from any decade from the 1970s to the present, and that is the East Village’s own Videogamesnewyork at 202 East 6th Street, our November 2019 Business of the Month.
Since Before 2006
Videogamesnewyork opened at their current location on June 1, 2006 after moving from their St. Mark’s Place location where they operated under the name “Saint Marks Games.” They stock console games from the very first home video game system to the most recent generation of video game systems from around the world. They are internationally known for a unique collection of video game systems and games, both domestic and imports. They stock everything from the game watches of the 70s to the first systems like Odyssey, Atari, Intellivision, Colecovision, Commodore 64 to the latest by Ps3, XBOX 360, PSP or Nintendo DS. In the last few years they have become direct distributors of Sanwa Deshi and Seimitsu Arcade Parts and official U.S. Distributors of QANBA. They even have the old handheld Electronic Quarterback sports games.
Videogamesnewyork has a robust online sales operation, but their dedication to the physical store remains the strongest. Their brick and mortar retail location allows them to create and maintain a culture in an increasingly commercialized industry. The store is a very hands-on environment and allows them to keep in sync and evolve with the gaming community.
Locals and Visitors From All Over the World
The store is a magnet for gaming aficionados from all over the city and the world. Of the many people scouring the shop for the game of their interest while I visited were Lloyd Taylor and Iton Richardson. They both play RPG games with an adventure theme; RPG is a role-playing game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Ital sometimes indulges in sports or racing genres.
Lloyd lives in the Bronx and said the shop was the best in New York City because they have a large number of games “and if you are interested in something obscure, more than likely they have it.” Iton now lives in Staten Island and appreciates the stress relief gaming affords him.
Better Than A Chain Store
As General Manager and Museum Curator Dan says: “We serve any customer who wants a personalized service, very different from the cold and antiseptic chain stores. Curious customers, collectors, tourists, anyone interested in seeing and touching the history of the video game industry would find in our store their territory.”
He adds about the East Village specifically “The general shopping is the perfect blend of locals and tourists. It is hard to find that mix in other places of the city… this area is just so perfect it would be hard to leave. There is no other place in this city quite like it. The streets are busy late into the night, much like the gaming community the shoppers sleep in and stay up late. A perfect fit for the East Village area. The location is in great proximity to dynamically different subway lines running from all boroughs. It is very easy for visitors to get here from the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, New Jersey, both Times Square and Grand Central.”
New and Used and They Buy and Repair
Videogamesnewyork sells new and used items and the price is based on the condition and not just by the barcode. They also buy games and equipment and work hard to stock quality merchandise and guarantee everything they sell. If there is a problem with your system or device, they also do repairs and the process starts with a free diagnostic exam. At that stage, an expert employee examines key parts and basic functions of the system to get a better idea about the issue. From there, they will map out a course of action and present the options to you. These diagnostics are always free of charge whether you decide to move forward with the repair or not.
Anime and Conventions
Another fun aspect of their successful business is attending and displaying at anime game shows and conventions. Anime is hand-drawn and computer animation originating from or associated with Japan and many of the fictional characters garner a cult following of people who dress up in costume at their gatherings. In 2019 they have been in Texas, Massachusetts, California and Canada and parts in between. You can next catch them at Anime NYC and the Javits Center November 15-17 and follow them on Instagram here.
Jack-of-all-trades Carlos Altamirano was behind the counter on a recent visit and had just returned with the company from a convention in Detroit. He showed me a shelf in the rear of the small catacomb-like store where original old machines still sealed in their packaging could be found on the shelves. Here were original games, such as an Intellivision under seal, just like I played many hours of baseball on with friends; I could even hear George Plimpton’s 1981 TV commercial for the product:
Museum of Gaming
In addition the store has many coveted items for gamers, including an original Nintendo 64 signed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the video game designer and producer at Nintendo, where he serves as one of its directors. He is the creator of some of the most acclaimed and best-selling game franchises, such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, F-Zero, and Donkey Kong. Next to that is a Playstation 3 signed by Hideko Kojima the video game designer, writer, director and producer who is regarded as an auteur of video games.
To what do they owe their success?
“HARD WORK and PASSION! A desire to commit to this community and a drive to be something more than just another game store. A lot of hard work in finding ways and money to get what we need while being a small business in an era where big business was taking over. If we did not have the passion for this we would have walked away a decade ago. We offer services and stock products that a company with 3000 stores could never offer. We are dedicated to our community providing a service and a resource that are not based off of sales. A great example is we offer free diagnostics for anyone who walks in, a lot of people who just want to see if the system from their parents’ attic still works and we don’t make them buy any cables. We work much closer with the community and we can pivot what we stock faster than a large company, as new fads enter we can be ahead of the curve to offer what customers are looking for,” said Manager and Curator Dan.
From The Optional
You’ll find items in our store that we don’t put a price on that’s important to be here. Our original Odyssey and some of the sealed things. We are still a store so everything is at some point open to offers. We even have a Nintendo World Championship cartridge, again, that would be incredibly valuable. Some of this we retain as a part of the culture that we’re in to. We’re not a pressure environment. We don’t require you to buy something when you come in. We’re used to people bringing their friends here and just showing them stuff. And part of this we’ve dedicated to maintaining certain things that’s fun to actually come in and show people. Parents showing kids what they had back in the day and other people from different countries showing what they used to play and what was available to them and what wasn’t available.
This is a very big part of history that’s a part of our country. Video games have grown to become the largest medium in the world and everyone’s now getting into the preservation of it and showing it off. MoMA has an exhibit and Sony’s wonder lab and the Museum of the Moving Image. A lot of that we’ve actually helped them out with, donated stuff and worked with them. Other stuff we just maintain here. There’s a few things that are just impressive whenever you come in for the first time to really get to see things that were from your childhood and to learn there was more from your childhood or for someone to show you “this is what I had”.
Where do they want to go?
Videogamesnewyork is a business in the truly independent vein. As Dan says, “We want to go as far as we can from the chain stores. We want to combine a cultural experience with a shopping experience and show how the independent stores can still live and have a value in an industry that every day more is becoming just a cold mechanism of money-making.” That East Village independent spirit is another reason why Videogamesnewyork is out November Busines of the Month, visit them today.
What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to nominate our next one. Thank you! #shoplocalnyc
And here is a handy map of all of our Businesses of the Month: