David Gegenfurtner misses the days when video games were simpler.
Graphics were basic and pixelated. Games came as bulky plastic cartridges that sometimes required a lick of rubbing alcohol to work. There were no complex story lines. You raced to win. You saved the day.
Gegenfurtner, 33, started selling old and new video games at flea markets in the Tampa Bay area a couple of years ago. It isn't a full-time job — he's an IT tech consultant by day — but it helped put a few extra bucks in his pocket.
The games were selling fast, especially the older ones. So Gegenfurtner and his buddy since the second grade, Joe Pochulsky, decided to open a store. It has been almost two years since Revolution Video Games & Movies opened on Busch Boulevard in Tampa and business is steady.
Customers can rent old and new movies, from independent films to classics for $1 a day. They can rent video games, like the classics Gegenfurtner grew up playing, also for $1 a day. The store buys used games and movies and resells them.
It's a business concept that's flunked for big chains like Blockbuster and Gamestop in recent years, as streaming services like Netflix and convenient kiosks like Redbox have changed they way people can watch and play. The last of the Blockbuster chain stores closed in the Tampa Bay area in 2013. Last year, video game retailer Gamestop closed 130 stores and 250 the year before that. The company still operates more than 140 stores in Florida.
But Gegenfurtner says Revolution provides a service that these other chains never did.
They offer old movie titles that you can't find on Netflix or Redbox. And they buy games from their customers for cash, while stores like Gamestop usually only allowed trades for store credit.
"And they don't buy the retro stuff," Gegenfurtner said. "Like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Zelda or Super Smash Brothers."
Most of these games have been remade for newer and more relevant consoles, but dedicated gamers remember the originals. That lure is enough to draw the collector crowd to the store.
"We can't keep the older games on the shelves long enough," he said.
Since a lot of the games aren't being made or sold new anymore, they rely on their customers and the Internet to find them used.
"There's not a lot of stores like ours that serve this niche collector's market," he said. "If there were stores like us on every corner, we wouldn't be successful."
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