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Retro video game store coming to Southington

SOUTHINGTON — A new game and collectibles store on Queen Street is hoping to tap into the rising interest in retro video games and out-of-production game systems.

John and Mary Kelleher, owners of M & J Video Games and Collectibles, 1049 Queen St., expect to open on Sept. 1. This month they’re moving boxes of video game cartridges, CDs, consoles and controllers into the location of the former Gaming Source.

While the business is mostly used games and equipment, John Kelleher said he’s also selling wrestling and sports collectibles.

He has sold video games or software for years and said he’s well versed in the buy and trade market. Used games and old systems are being bought by nostalgic adults and by young people unable or unwilling to spend on the newest titles.

“There are kids that can’t afford the current stuff,” he said.

At M & J, John Kellerher has rows of Nintendo and Sega game cartridges in a glass counter. Game systems and controllers will be packaged together and sold as a set, he said.

Pat Beil, a retro video game collector from Illinois who hosts the video game news podcast Play On!, said interest in old games keeps growing.

“Every aspect of retro gaming is blowing up — the collecting, the playing, the restoring,” he said. “There’s so much available. There are so many resources for collectors.”

Much of the resurgence is driven by nostalgic adults who now have the cash to afford games that they couldn’t as kids or who are looking to recreate their childhood collections. Many of those games and systems are still available and are fairly inexpensive.

Contemporary games and systems can run hundreds of dollars and can include involved stories that take hours to complete, Beil said. It’s cheaper and less time consuming to get into the older systems.

“People want to play video games but they don’t want to dump 300, 200 bucks,” Beil said. “They don’t have 50 hours to sink into the huge story-telling games out now.”

Beil — who started collecting with an old Playstation and now has multiple systems and games in a dedicated gaming room — likened the hobby to collecting and restoring old cars. There’s an entire community based around restoring and repairing old video game consoles.

While Beil plays his games on a flatscreen TV, some purists want a tube television to render the graphics as they would have appeared in the late 1980s or early ’90s. Collectors who enjoy the restoration aspect of the old systems look for authentic parts and often have multiple back-ups, “just in case.”

“They want it as authentic as possible,” Beil said.

Many common games can be bought for a few dollars, but some rare or limited edition games can be highly sought-after items by collectors.

“There are games that go upwards of 30, 40 grand,” Beil said.

In the past few years he said more stores have opened that cater to the demand for retro games, including restored arcade games.

Dan McLaughlin, assistant manager at Game X Change in Wallingford, said used games have always been part of the business. Recently there’s been more interest though.

“People are realizing the value is going way, way up,” McLaughlin said.

His store stocks games and systems, “everything back to Atari.” (203)317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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