Buying a Large Collection: A Retrospective

Back in April, I spent a fairly large sum of money (in the thousands) buying up one of my old friend’s entire game collection.  Having had about six months to ponder the decision and to weigh the pros and cons of the entire ordeal in hindsight, I thought it might be good to share my thoughts and answer the question: would I do it again?

So many games in once place is tough to turn down.

Walking into my friend’s basement and seeing boxes and boxes of games there for the taking was a surreal experience.  For many gamers that love collecting and playing games, seeing literally hundreds of games in once place all at the same time can be like a dream come true, but also completely overwhelming.  I remember seeing some items in the mix like Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, a copy of Lunar: Silver Star Story, a boxed Secret of Mana among many other things and feeling like my hands were slowly being tied as questions busted into my brain: how could I leave this all behind?  Would I ever have an opportunity like this again?  These are the kinds of questions that would have kept me up at night for a long, long time.

The pressure of buying from friends and family can be daunting.

Especially when your friend is a salesman.  Upon entering the room with all the games, I immediately was given a tour of all the rare and wonderful things in the collection while many of the other aspects of it were glossed over.  I barely had a chance to peek through the boxes without being interrupted, or to get a private word in to talk things over with my partner before we were being asked if we were taking it all.  Given that my friend and I had been talking on and off for years about me buying his collection, he already knew where my heart was at and it was really hard to say no even if I wanted to.  He was also a tougher bargainer than me.  When I asked if I could pick and choose what I wanted, he insisted he’d have to increase the price of individual items since he wanted everything gone at once and it would be hard for him to sell the rest.  If he had been a stranger, I could’ve easily bought more time or walked away, but it was difficult to turn him down given everything that was there and our long history together as friends.

The cost vs. what we got was pretty good.

We got approximately 600 games, at least 50 manuals/game guides, and at least 20 boxed consoles/other items with lots of other rare and exclusive stuff (E3 documentation, press kits, demo discs, swag, a developer kit, a game dump of an unreleased game, etc.)  It was definitely a good deal from a monetary value perspective given how much good stuff was in the mix, but the issue I found myself scratching my head over was all the extra stuff that I didn’t really want.  Did I really want an entire box of GameCube sports games or generally terrible movie/television-based games that I’ll likely never play?  What am I supposed to do with much of the E3 stuff that I wasn’t there to gain any context about?  How about some of the accessories that I can’t imagine ever feeling compelled to try out (i.e. the GameCube racing wheel/pedal)?  These things are now mine to store and potentially sell some day if we decide to go that route.

We nearly doubled our collection in one day, but…

…we also ran into the issue of getting a lot of duplicates and extras of things.  There were not only duplicates of things we already had, but there were duplicates of certain items within the collection itself!  It takes a lot of work and time to organize and sell things, and a part of me wants nothing to do with selling on eBay because of some of the horror stories I’ve heard from friends throughout the years around bad buyers and scammers.  Selling locally is an option, but it’s a lot of time I just don’t have for the moment.  What smart person spends money to have to do more work afterward?

Things weren’t always what they seemed.

I think the thing that’s been bothering me the most is that I don’t know that my friend had my best interest in mind at all throughout the transaction.  He continually bragged about selling off lots of the “heavy hitters” of his collection a few years ago like his copies of Snatcher and Popful Mail for Sega CD as well as a bunch of other things along the way that I would’ve loved to have.  Though in my mind the entire interaction and transaction was a gesture of friendship and trust, it became pretty apparent to me that he wasn’t doing me any favours by selling me his collection – he seemed to be in it for the cash, and not for any reconnection or friendship after the fact.  It’s not as if my friend owed me anything after all these years, but it left me feeling a little… used?  I’m not sure that I can even quite put my finger directly on what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it, but it certainly hasn’t left me feeling completely positive and excited.

Looking back on everything, even though I don’t have tender feelings and butterflies in my stomach every time I think about this experience, I think I would do it again if presented with the opportunity but with a little more control from my end.  I would’ve taken more time to think things over and maybe put aside my personal expectations as well.  I might have insisted on my friend pricing out the items that I really wanted to see if it’d be worth it to buy up everything, even if it meant taking a few more several hour trips out his way.

I know that we got a ton of really great things in this game lot that I’ll be able to enjoy for years to come, but I can’t help feeling a little sour about some aspects of the transaction.  In an ideal world my friend would’ve cut me a deal, we could’ve laughed about old times and become good friends again while bonding over it all.  That’s not what happened, and it kinda sucks.  At least my partner and I came out richer in two ways: we obviously obtained a ton of fantastic items and games, but we also gained a lot of important experience as a couple and in the form of life lessons.  For example, it’s unlikely I’ll do business with friends or family again at this level of investment.  I always treat game collecting as a fun and positive hobby experience rather than a rigid business transaction, so I need to get something emotional out of it at the end of the day.  As well-intentioned as friends and family may be, it’s hard to expect that others will be able to meet my expectations.

Hopefully this post gives you all something to consider if you’re ever thinking about a large purchase like this, or end up dealing with people you know rather than strangers.

Let me know what you think: would you have bought everything under these circumstances?  What would be your dream game lot to purchase?  Would you ever buy from family and friends?

Thanks for reading!

-GG

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20 Responses to Buying a Large Collection: A Retrospective

  1. thedeviot says:

    I buy stuff from family or friends. The thing is most of them keep it in mind, and don’t ask me for top dollar. But they don’t ask me for eighty cents either. Likewise, I don’t try to get stuff for basically nothing from them “Because family.” Often times, I’ve even pointed out when they’re asking far too little for something. Like when I got my boxed Ultima Second Trilogy. They appreciate stuff like that. A lot of times just being honest in general will surprise people, even ones you see often. And if one were to try to go out of their way to screw me over, I’d just pass on it if I could tell. I’d pass politely, I wouldn’t stir up drama with the other relatives. I’d just tell them it wasn’t something I needed, or could afford at the time, and move on. The closest situation to yours I’ve had, and it’s still nothing like it is this. I’m fortunate that almost ten years ago when my Grandmother sold her house, and the family had to go through everything in there, she gifted me a bunch of game stuff she had in an old table with cabinets in it, in the cellar, for helping. My Aunt was just going to toss it (She has no concept of video games, or antiques, or resale value whatsoever.) So glad I was able to rescue it. Three 2600’s, a C64c, an Intellivision, and a bunch of games in my collection from that.

    In your case, at least with the doubles you can trade them, or sell them off, to get some or all of the difference. But before doing that, look to see if any of the doubles are in fact doubles. Normally I don’t advocate collecting variants, but some of those 5 screw NES games are more valuable than their 3 screw counterparts. Atari 2600 label variants sometimes fetch an extra couple of bucks depending on the game. So that’s something to consider too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hungrygoriya says:

      I’m so glad that you’ve had positive experiences dealing with family and friends. Normally I have as well, but this particular situation just felt really foreign to me. I’m by no means out to take anyone for a ride or be deceitful, nor do I have the expectation that anyone would give me something for less than what it’s worth. I suppose in this case I was hoping for more of a collegial exchange rather than things feeling so business-like. I’m quite happy to pay good money for good things, and in times when I’ve been on the other side of a transaction, I’ve cut prices substantially for family or given them things for free because the money isn’t what’s important to me. That’s how I’ve always been. Maybe I’m foolish, but I’d rather be able to give the people I love something that’s meaningful to them that’s also meaningful to me rather than have a wad of cash burning away in my pocket.

      I’ll definitely go over all the doubles with a fine-tooth comb before parting ways with anything. There is some money to be made back there, but my goodness is there ever a lot to sort out and go through to get there. I will have a bit more time at Christmas to settle in and really take a hard look at some of this stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cary says:

    If following your experience here has taught me one thing, it’s that I’m really not a collector! 🙂 I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to face down a game collection like the one you described, only to have to pick and choose while being somewhat hassled by the seller. I’ve also never dealt with anything of this magnitude when it comes to friends or family – I guess they mostly happen to be the “giveaway” types. Especially my family. (Boy, if someone wants to get rid of something, they’ll toss it off on the first person who says “oh okay,” no question!) But that’s good, because I think money just complicates everything.

    Hopefully you’ll be able to do something with all the stuff you don’t want. I actually have a family member who regularly sells stuff on eBay and Amazon, and he hasn’t had any issues with either. (It’s slow, he says, but as long as you have stock to sell, people will manage to find it.) But selling games requires extra steps, like making sure they work and all, so I get that it’s just easier to hold on to everything regardless of need or want.

    Aside: the organizer-nerd in me gets excited at the thought of cataloging a collection like this, haha. Good luck going through it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hungrygoriya says:

      I can completely relate to the giveaway family! Mine has always been big on refurbishing and reusing, so most of the furniture and appliances in my house are used and were given to me by my parents without question! I’m used to that kind of attitude, and money definitely does complicate more than it makes things easier, that’s for sure!

      I’m glad to hear that your family member has had good luck selling online. I’ve known a few people who have had people buy from them and never pay up, or make false claims against them saying things never shipped when they actually did. Maybe I just know unlucky people, but it’s really put me off for the moment. I will definitely reconsider and do more reading on the whole process and make sure I understand my rights.

      The organization part is usually much more daunting. In this case there’s a ton of stuff to sort, but most times when I pick up game lots, there’s a lot of stuff and it’s dirty! Like physically sticky, musty and dusty. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent washing and de-gooing game cases/cartridges, swabbing contacts on PCBs, and cleaning all the non-electronic parts of consoles that my boyfriend has pulled apart. Apart from some cat hair and a bit of dust, this game lot is squeaky clean!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. YvoCaro says:

    No, I never buy directly from friends or acquaintances, but then, I’m not a collector of games. Still, it was a good read to hear your personal experiences. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  4. YvoCaro says:

    No, I never buy directly from friends or acquaintances, but then, I’m not a collector of games. Still, it was a good read to hear your personal experiences. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Geddy says:

    Really enjoyed reading this followup. I remember when you first posted about the acquisition and I recall wondering to myself, how much would I be comfortable buying at one time? And could I ever part with my collection? It seems you’ve experienced the issues with mixing money with friends and family. It basically never ends well… it’s right what they say!

    This part in particular stood out to me and made me a little sad:

    > Though in my mind the entire interaction and transaction was a gesture of friendship and trust, it became pretty apparent to me that he wasn’t doing me any favours by selling me his collection – he seemed to be in it for the cash, and not for any reconnection or friendship after the fact

    As a collector myself, I can’t imagine becoming so detached from the love of the games that I was in it for the money. Selling it would be so much more about losing something I was once connected to than making a few measly grand that would just go to something uneventful like a home repair. But if I were to sell it to a friend? I’d give them the deal of a lifetime, because it’d be more important that it go to a good home despite the fact that at that point I’d presumably lost my passion for collecting. And that’s out of respect for the friend I’d sell it to, considering they presumably still _do_ have a passion for collecting. Anyway, sounds like you got a lessen in the kind of character your friend really is…

    The good news is, you got some amazing games and a great collection in addition to that lesson. Enjoy what you grabbed and make it yours! 🙂 Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hungrygoriya says:

      I’m really glad you said this because I was starting to think that my expectations might have been a little high. I’m right in the same boat there with you and would gladly make a friend a great deal for all the reasons you mentioned. The saddest part is that my friend was actually selling because his wife didn’t want the stuff in the house – they’d just had a baby a year prior, and they needed to fix their roof. I’m always so, so grateful that my partner and I are both on the same page and both love collecting. This experience was pretty eye-opening, and I guess it’s my fault for giving my friend the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day, I still feel happy with the purchase and feel I came out on top. We’ve really made it our own, so one of these days when everything is fixed up how I want it, I’ll take some photos and do a before/after of the Nerd Room. It has really undergone a tremendous transformation as a result of this purchase.

      Thanks again for your kind words. It really makes me feel better!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. LightningEllen says:

    I’ve never bought anything from friends or family, and I think that’s how it’s going to stay, haha. I’m glad you’re enjoying lots of awesome stuff from this score, but I can understand why you feel a little “used”. Take the good with the bad, I guess? 🙂

    I really enjoyed reading all your posts about this though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hungrygoriya says:

      It’s honestly for the best to keep friends/family and money at arm’s length! I couldn’t help myself in this case though, even if the friendship feels a little weird for the moment. I’m quite happy with the purchase despite all the personal feelings involved and don’t have buyer’s regret. I just wish I could feel entirely in love with the experience!

      I still might have one more post in the works about some of the other goodies that came along with the purchase that I haven’t talked about yet. I’m still trying to figure out how to organize everything. I have E3 press kits, figures, swag, demo discs, etc. It’s just totally random. Maybe it’ll just need to be a totally random post!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It sounds like your friend was definitely in it more for the money rather than doing you any kind of favor; though it does seem like you were satisfied with what you physically received, the experience with someone you considered a friend leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I don’t blame you for feeling used. It sounds like he capitalized on your friendship, knowing that you’re a collector, and knowing that you wouldn’t want to pass up on a deal like this even with some of the downsides. The fact that he wouldn’t let you look at the collection without interruption or discuss things with your partner leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think you made the right decision and got a good deal. It doesn’t seem like you were taken advantage of in terms of what you received and how satisfied you were in that regard, but I’d also say it was lucky things turned out like they did.

    Is selling on Amazon a possibility? They’re a little bet better than eBay in my opinion. It’s less of an auction and more of you setting the price you want. You still have to deal with shipping, but Amazon does give you money for that, though they do take a percentage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hungrygoriya says:

      Amazon sounds like something to look into. I’m always torn about Amazon since their prices are sometimes really inflated compared to other sites, but I’ll have a look at their information and see what’s what.

      Honestly, it would’ve been nice if things had gone over a little more smoothly. I don’t try to romanticize the whole process of game hunting, but I’ve had a pretty good experience with most people I’ve bought from. I just expected more of the same from this person I guess. Ah well! I have a ton of great stuff and the rest of my life to play through it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do usually end up paying a little more than what they give you for the shipping credit, but it’s still not that bad. I’ve never sold anything on eBay, but I know I like Amazon’s ability to just set your price and then change if if you’d like later. I sold a Sephiroth figurine for nearly twice the amount I bought it for, and that was after lowering my first starting price by a hundred dollars.

        Yeah, you expect more from people you know/consider friends, but I’m glad that all in all you were satisfied with the merchandise at least 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Mr. Panda says:

    This is a very thoughtful read, and I’m glad that you shared your reflections on this. I remember when you purchased everything and was so excited for you. I had never thought about the circumstances behind that transaction and the seller. I’ve never bought a game from family or friends, and I don’t think I ever would. The reason being, I feel like it has the chance of changing the relationship between us. I prefer giving gifts and receiving gifts, even at a loss on my end, just because it feels like an exchange from the heart. In your situation, I don’t know if I’d buy the whole collection, but I’d certainly pay a friend for games that I knew for sure I wanted to play and keep. Again, I appreciate your transparency regarding the matter. It’s thought-provoking for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hungrygoriya says:

      I can appreciate your perspective here. My friend’s collection was one I always wondered about when we were kids. We weren’t close enough for me to be invited over to view it all for myself in my youth, so I think it became this exciting thing that I blew up in my mind to be this spectacular unattainable goal. The idea of owning it after all that time was irresistible! I don’t think I’m much different from the time when Joe and I were buddies in our younger days, and I think I was just surprised to find he had changed so much. I’m like you in the sense that I like to give people things without expecting anything in return. I’d totally cut someone a deal or send them stuff for free just because I’m at a place in my life where I can do that! It’s hard for me to imagine being firm with an old friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dealing with family and friends can be a bit tricky, especially when money’s involved! I can’t really think of a time I bought something from a family member or friend, but I understand how you feel about your old friend. Sometimes people just change directions in life, and maybe for him he saw it more as a business transaction vs. reconnecting with an old friend. You did get a lot of awesome stuff out of the deal though! If I was presented with a similar situation and had the funds to do so, I probably would have bought it all as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • hungrygoriya says:

      Yeah, I definitely don’t regret making the purchase. Now that I’ve had a chance to sit and look back on it as a whole, it was hugely positive. It’s just my habit of taking things more personally than I should that’s getting me down.

      Liked by 1 person

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