Gaming history is long and expansive, with many consoles and games not being available to the public anymore. However, some stores such as Game Shop Downstairs, still provide such products and keep the history alive.
Game Shop Downstairs is a retro game store in the basement of FixLaptop.com in downtown San Jose. The shop is run by Anthony Guarino, 29, who took over the store three years ago and has since expanded its inventory.
“The guy who was running it before kind of used it more as a hangout spot rather than a video game store,” said Guarino. “But when I had started working here, I started doing repairs, modification to the Gameboys and from there sort of took it over and expanded to other realms.”
The shop offers a wide selection of comics, anime DVDs and VHS tapes, figures and even imported video games.
This expansion has paid off, because of a community of loyal customers with all different kinds of interests from video games, anime to even music.
“The philosophy I have behind it is wanting to cover as many bases as possible,” said Guarino. “I try and cater in some way to all those people. And so, whoever comes down here, they end up finding something they like.”
With a wide array of uncommon items to sell, Guarino has a confident way of restocking. His store accepts trade-ins for those looking to get rid of their possessions.
“The majority of our inventory is dependent on what people trade into us,” said Guarino. “People from across the Bay know if they bring it here, they know it will go to a good home.”
Interpreting the price of all the items in their stock is no easy feat either, with Guarino consistently checking the eBay listings, as well as being aware of situations that might increase the value of specific items.
These situations can range from a re-release of a popular video game, to a celebrity bringing awareness to a dated pop-culture artifact generating public interest, such as Logic, musician and rapper, buying a Charizard Pokemon card on Twitch, said Guarino.
Despite the convenience of stores like GameStop, who have expanded their products into the sphere of merchandise, Guarino does not see them as competition because they appeal to a different crowd.
“I try to focus more on the esoteric and kind of weird stuff,” said Guarino. “You can’t go to a GameStop for TurboGrafx-16 games or Tennis on a 3DO. Or even VHS tapes and LaserDisc.”