WILKES-BARRE – For more than 20 years since a location change, The Video Game Store, just off Public Square at 28 S. Main St., has provided local gamers with everything they could possibly need.
Steve Green originally opened the store in Midtown Village, as the store’s self-proclaimed “minion” Tim Robinson explained.
“It was a little hallway from a store,” he said, “there was some pulling and then it (green) moved here (current location) and we’ve been here ever since.”
Robinson, 36 (though he says he looks 26), from New Hampshire, moved to the area as a child and “grew up here.” He has worked for Green “on and off” for 20 years. He even ran the store for five years in the early 2010s, before the store brought in John Karpien.
“And it developed a lot, especially with John because he specializes in Ataris and old, old stuff. We’ve always had retro stuff but I knew the newer stuff and I sort of continued like that. And then John came along and expanded the retro stuff and kind of organized it,” Robinson said, adding with a chuckle, “This place is like half a museum now.
And for the pandemic?
Well, Robinson explained that in a “normal” climate, business ebbs and flows. Starting in the fall, in time for Christmas and for people to spend more time indoors, sales generally increase. Just around tax season, when things heat up outside, business dwindles for a while. With quarantines, however, people looking to stay busy while stuck at home have turned to gaming.
“It (the sales) didn’t stop for about two years. It was very busy,” Robinson said. “It was very stressful because we didn’t have that ebb and flow anymore and all of a sudden there was a huge demand for products and people weren’t trading products anymore, but we were selling a lot.”
As an example, he said people would come and buy PlayStation 4s. When those ran out, they would buy PlayStation 3s, then PlayStation 2s, and finally PlayStation 1s.
“People just wanted something to play while they were locked up in their house,” Robinson remarked. The video game store was there to supply these outlets in uncertain times after the reopening of the initial mandatory closings.
The video game store does not sell online, which Robinson says would require almost entirely separate staff, as well as an advanced inventory system, all of which would be incredibly difficult to maintain. “It’s a lot more Mom ‘n Pop,” he said.
These days, The Video Game Store is always seeing business on the high end, which is definitely not a bad thing. And, as Robinson humorously noted, “You’re not necessarily a ‘nerd’ for playing video games these days. It’s ‘normal’ now.”
And with Karpien’s collection of retro systems, nostalgic enthusiasts, buyers and collectors are sure to be delighted.
Robinson mentioned the Sega Saturn and the Atari Jaguar, among others, as the retro and rather obscure systems offered by The Video Game Store. Of course, there’s also the highly sought-after PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, if you’re lucky enough to nab one before they sell out. There’s also a litany of prior systems from both home game behemoths. Then there’s Nintendo Switch, and going back to the immensely popular N64 systems that launched in the 90s, among many other systems and devices. The video game store also offers a wide selection of Blu-ray discs, as well as new and used games, accessories, controllers, cables, and even trade-in for cash.
The video game store is open seven days a week, from noon to 6:45 p.m. every day except Sunday, where hours are listed as 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For any questions, the store’s phone number is 570-822-9929.