Video game stores in Chicago are not as common as you might think. Here are the 5 best Retro Video Game stores in the city
Retro video game stores are big business and there are plenty of people looking to relieve the good old days when games only had one button. But the question is where to shop? Currently the best place to get retro or used video games is eBay and Amazon. But what if you want that ever elusive instant gratification of seeing a game on a shelf, paying your money and then taking it home that day, you’ll want to go to a brick and mortar store. I have lived in Chicago for almost 10 years and I have been to every store on this list. So let’s rank the five best retro video game stores in Chicago. For the store to be considered retro, video games older than the last generation of systems (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii) must be sold and in a fairly decent supply. That makes GameStop excluded from this list even though they now sell retro titles online.
5. Play N Trade – Various locations across Chicago
Play N Trade is a franchisor based in California so the stores in Chicago do vary slightly. The video game store offers a wide variety of merchandise in addition to video games. Some prices may be a little different depending on the area. I like going here because sometimes I get a decent deal and since the stores aren’t really that popular, sometimes the selection of popular titles is more robust. Play N Trade specializes solely in video games and accessories. The staff is friendly and willing to help out with any questions you might have.
4. The Exchange – 935 W Belmont Ave & 1524 N Milwaukee Ave
The Exchange is another Franchise company that has 2 locations in Chicago. Each location sells records, DVDs, CDs, and Video games. The difference between The Exchange and Disc Replay is that The Exchange sells new video games and other media in addition to their used stock. The Exchange has various inventory and competitive prices. I’ve gotten some really good deals at The Exchange and the condition of the items are acceptable. My best find was a copy of Conker’s Bad Fur Day for $35. Staff is always asking if you need something because the majority of the video games are behind glass. It’s really helpful that they’re always around because nothing is worse than waiting for someone to open up the case.
3. VideoGames Then & Now – 4351 N Harlem Ave
VideoGames then & now is the first store on the list that isn’t a franchise. There is only one location in Chicago. Videogames Then & Now has a wide selection of retro video game titles and they also offer repairs. The Chicago location on Harlem also has a space for LAN parties which allow the store to stay competitive with Amazon and eBay. This store has a really good return policy and they stand behind their products. They have a heavy amount of games prior to NES era, so if you’re looking for a good deal on some Atari 2600 games, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better store with a better collection. I found a copy of E.T. still sealed for 10 dollars. Can’t beat that, even if it’s a terrible game.
2. Disc Replay – Various locations around Chicago
Disc Replay operates on the same business model as Play N Trade – they’re individually owned franchises which means that certain promotions and pricing are set by the store and not by the corporate office. The only thing that they have in common is the name and branding. Disc Replay has really fair prices. I was able to get a Virtual Boy complete in box that was sold as parts for 60 dollars. On eBay, the box alone goes for $60. I was able fix it and now it’s worth over $200. They’re also not technically in Chicago, so the taxes make the prices a lot easier to handle. Disc Replay also sells DVDs and CDs which could be a reason why their prices are reasonable. I ranked them higher than Videogames Then & Now because of the selection and overall quality of the merchandise.
1. People Play Games – 3268 N Clark St
People Play Games is the top of this list because of the quality of their product and overall care of their merchandise. Items are tested before an offer is made and if it’s not up to their high standard, they refuse to take it. After the items are purchased, they are intensely cleaned and inspected before the item goes on shelf. Discs are resurfaced prior to purchasing so you know the game will play on your system when you get home. While pricing is really close to eBay, the amount of work that goes into cleaning the items plus a 30 day guarantee against defects really makes up for it. Even with The Exchange within walking distance, they still manage to stay busy and draw new people in. The store has a vast selection of games all the way up to Xbox One and they sell some very rare items that you don’t see every day. They currently have a Super Nintendo Excertainment Bicycle for sale and a sealed copy of The Amazing Spiderman: Web of Fire for the Sega 32X in their glass case. The staff is knowledgeable of all things video games and they are a must visit if you plan on visiting Chicago proper.
Retro Video game stores in Chicago are few and far between, but when you find a really good one, you’ll feel right at home. Whether you’re visiting Chicago or have been here your whole life, you should stop into one of these stores if you really enjoy retro video games.