Cold Turkey - A Thrifting Addict Muses After a Month Long Break
Chris Hansen
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Riverton
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In June or July of 2007, I noticed the weekly thrift lists here on BGG for the first time. I was amazed at some of the great games people were finding so I started stopping by some of my local thrift shops to test my luck. Given that one of my first finds was the semi-rare and valuable Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel I quickly became an avid thrifter. From July 2007 to February 2008, I was an extremely active thrifter, often making several stops per day and contributing heavily to the weekly thrift lists.

However, for various reasons, which I will discuss in this list, I started losing the thrifting fire towards the end of February. I haven't totally quit thrifting, but I've been going much less recently and actually made no thrift purchases during the entire month of March. Part of that certainly stems from the fact that I was recently laid off and don't have a lot of disposal income (even for cheap thrifting games) but the reasons for my break are more than just monetary.

I want to specifically state that these are just my opinions and that I don't speak for anyone else on the thrift list. I'm going to organize this list into a group of pros and cons and would love to read comments from others.
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1. Board Game: Pro [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Pro
Chris Hansen
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Pros of Thrifting
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2. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:26]
Board Game: Puerto Rico
Chris Hansen
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Games

The first and obviously biggest draw of thrifting is cheap games. I was lucky enough to find many games in the top 500 and even a few in the top 50 (including the number one ranked Puerto Rico)!

I think most thrifters would agree that the biggest draw for the hobby is the thrill of seeing a great game stuffed in with the mass of puzzles. The $2.00 price tag doesn't hurt anything either.
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3. Board Game: GiftTRAP [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:2198] [Average Rating:6.42 Unranked]
Board Game: GiftTRAP
Chris Hansen
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Gifts

In addition to finding many games for myself, I was also able to pick up many cheap Christmas and birthday gifts for family and friends. I was able to save a huge amount of money on my Christmas spending this year by getting games at thrift stores.

Last year I gave away copies of Go, Twixt, a second edition copy of Risk, and Ticket to Ride. Of course, finding these games is all about being at the right place at the right time, but if you're lucky enough to find them, they make great presents.
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4. Board Game: eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:7299]
Board Game: eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game
Chris Hansen
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Selling

Sometimes you can find a game that isn't much fun (or that you just don't want for whatever reason) but is valuable on eBay. Due to the abundance of out-of-print party games that often grace thrift store shelves, it can be quite easy to fund a thrifting hobby just by buying and selling the right games (if you know which ones to get).

The most famous such type of game is arguably Guesstures, but there are many others. I calculated out what I spent on thrift games and what I made on eBay sales, and I actually came out ahead by a few dollars. (I have many other games waiting to be sold so I expect that proportion to improve over time.)
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5. Board Game: Trade [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:12683]
Board Game: Trade
Chris Hansen
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Trading

Making money from game sales is fun, but in my opinion, it's much more satisfying to trade a game to someone who really wants it and get something you want in return.

Thanks to trading thrifted games, I was able to get copies of Lionheart, Starship Troopers, San Juan, Silk Road, Cathedral, and many others. The games I traded include King Oil, Conspiracy, MindTrap II, and Jambo, all of which were found while thrifting.

To date, I got about 15 games on my want list through trading.
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6. Board Game: Friends [Average Rating:4.07 Overall Rank:19496]
From gallery of chansen2794
Chris Hansen
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Friends

The weekly thrift list really is it's own little world. There are some very regular faces and I think we get to know each other pretty well. People root for each other's finds and occasionally even talk about things other than thrifting.

I found some wonderful people in the thrifting community. Many times when I found an incomplete game, someone would volunteer to provide replacement pieces for free. Organizing trades was easy because I often knew the people I was trading with from the thrifting lists. I've become friendly with and chatted with several fellow thrifters and have added several to my GeekBuddy list.

I've also met several thrifters in the Real World. I've organized meetings with people when they are in town and met with a few of the guys who live in the Salt Lake area. Everyone I've met has been extremely nice. One local thrifter pretty much gave me six or seven classic Avalon Hill wargames just to clear some storage space!

In many ways, the friendships I've made on the thrifting lists have been more enjoyable than the games I've found while thrifting.
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7. Board Game: Go For Gold [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Board Game: By Jove
Chris Hansen
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Thrifting brings lots of Geekgold

Thrifting often yields little known games and thus it's a great way to expand the BGG database. Of course, we all know that expanding the BGG Database = Geekgold.

I've added over 100 games to the database and almost 500 pictures. Most (but not all) of these additions were from thrift store purchases. I've been able to buy several games from GeekGold auctions thanks to the Geekgold I've earned through thrifting. It's always fun to have a but of GG available for when you see something you want on auction or see something on BGG that deserves a tip.
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8. Board Game: Good Humor Game [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Good Humor Game
Chris Hansen
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Fun

More than any other place I've seen on BGG, the thrifting lists are home to a lot of long-running jokes. Finds of crappy games like The Ungame are often met with humorous comments and Rack-O finds are always met with a special thumbs up.
Board Game: Super Rack-O

Other jokes include funny stories about encounters with the unique thrift store clientèle. Eventually these stories took on a life of their own and we started joking about a "Thrift Store Irritant Squad" who were dedicated from preventing people access to the game aisle, checkout counter, or fresh-smelling air.

I also had a long running joke for awhile in which I repeatedly insisted that my must-find grail game was Bowling Dice. (I didn't say it was funny, just that it was long running.) Many other people made similar jokes.

Once you've read the thrift lists for awhile, you really start to enjoy the humor and the personalities that emerge between the multiple entries of who found what and where.
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9. Board Game: Tax & Spend [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Tax & Spend
Chris Hansen
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Take That Deduction

At the behest of my wife, I recently cleaned my shelves of about 25 games which I was, in all likelihood, never going to play. (They all originally came from thrift stores.) We loaded the games into the trunk and took them back to a local thrift store and then took a receipt for the value of our donation. I will be able to claim the thrift-store value of the games as a deduction on my taxes. Sure, I spent only $2.00 per game (on average) but I've seen games on the shelves for $5.00 or more and how do I know that they won't sell my donated game for a similar price? devil

Okay, the tax benefit is admittedly very small, but it's still helping a charity shop raise money for some very worthy causes. Since I'd already bought the games, they are going to get money for them twice!
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10. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Merchandise [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Merchandise
Chris Hansen
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Riverton
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Other Thrifty Treasures Available

Of course thrift stores carry more than games. So when you're looking for games, it's a good time to browse other things in the store. I've gotten several very nice pieces of furniture, cookbooks, books, and purses and shoes for my wife while thrifting. The most I've ever spent for anything was $20 for a beautiful solid wood coffee table which is in our living room now.
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11. Board Game: The Con Game [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked]
Board Game: The Con Game
Chris Hansen
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Cons of Thrifting
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12. Board Game: Craps [Average Rating:4.95 Overall Rank:19576]
Board Game: Craps
Chris Hansen
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Lots and Lots of Crappy Games

Thrifting for games can yield some great finds. I am still amazed by some of the things I found. However, let there be no mistake about this, 90% of thrift visits yield absolutely nothing. And 9/10s of the trips in which you do see something interesting, it is only mildly interesting. Thrift stores obviously only stock what people donate, and most people don't own very good games in the first place, much less donate them.

After eight months of thrifting, I am utterly convinced that the fun of buying thrift store games lies almost exclusively in the treasure hunt feeling. Finding a good game is a big thrill, but the visits in which you find nothing but crap can quickly become incredibly frustrating.
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13. Board Game: About Time [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:11483]
Board Game: Mr. Jack
Chris Hansen
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Thrifting is an Inefficient Use of Time.

Most games that you buy at thrift stores are about $2.00 or $3.00. However, when I started factoring in the time I spent going to thrift stores, I started looking at that price tag a little differently. I made a pretty decent living as a database application developer but even if I'd been working in a $12 an hour job, I think that I could I have earned enough money to buy all the games I bought thrifting and still had lots of money left over if I'd have used the time I spent thrifting to work.

When you figure in the cost of gas for making trips to the thrift store, the cost of the games becomes even worse. If you've made a special trip or even just taken the long way somewhere to pass a thrift store, you need to add the cost of gas to the game purchase. Now add in the cost of gas for all the trips that in which you didn't make a purchase. It can start looking pretty ugly when you do the math.
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14. Board Game: The Conquest of Space [Average Rating:6.10 Unranked]
From gallery of MonkeyGoose
Chris Hansen
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Where to Store All Your Thrift Purchases???

Of course the problem of having too many games for the space available can be troublesome for any game collector, but in my experience the problem grows exponentially when games are only $2.00.

I bought many games that I probably would not normally have purchased since the price was so inconsequential. Before long, I had three bookshelves stacked to the brim and games overflowing into other rooms. I can tell you without any hesitation that storing games where they don't belong is not a good way to make your spouse happy.

The storage issue became an issue very quickly. I filled up our game shelf in no time and after a few months, we had a room that we could hardly use because games were stacked all over the place. This was resolved at least partially from some major ebay sales and re-donations, but we still own more games than we can fit on three bookshelves and part of the reason I took a break from thrifting is just because - even if I found an amazing game, where would I put it?
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15. Board Game: Post Office [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Post Office
Chris Hansen
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Riverton
UT
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Shipping Games is a Pain in the Ass

In the pros list above, I mentioned that thrifting can be a good source of games to sell on eBay or trade. But to me, the biggest problem with that is that shipping games is an enormous pain in the ass. I used to sell a lot of CDs and books on eBay and shipping was never an issue since packaging material was cheap and readily available. But Wal-Mart doesn't sell any boxes that fit board games nicely. Boxes that are long enough for games are often far too deep and that can result in higher postage rates for oversize boxes. I've spent far too many nights cutting and taping cardboard to make game size boxes so that I could mail something off. That works ok, but see my comments about bad use of time above. I've spent so many hours getting eBay games packaged and addressed that I think I have nullified the money I made from eBay in some cases.

On a related subject, games are more of a hassle to sell on eBay than CDs or books. People have more questions and want to see more pictures with games than with anything else I've sold. Also, listing games on eBay takes longer than listing books and CDs. I've sometimes felt that selling on eBay is more annoying than it's worth, especially when you factor in the myriad of fees that eBay and PayPal charge.
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16. Board Game: Lost: The Game [Average Rating:3.69 Overall Rank:19806]
Board Game: Lost: The Game
Chris Hansen
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Riverton
UT
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Lost Pieces are Far Too Common

While most thrifters try to examine the contents of a game before buying, standing in the store and counting every single piece is often not practical. And while fellow thrifters are often wonderful about sending replacement pieces, getting a game with missing pieces is still a huge annoyance.

Sometimes parents who are shopping in thrift stores leave their kids in the toy/game aisle to entertain themselves. This inevitably results in the kids dumping the contents of a game all over the floor. Usually the game is something like Operation or Mouse Trap but I have seen a kid mercilessly dumping the contents of an Avalon Hill game. Thankfully it was just Facts in Five, but still. It's not exactly a game that you'd expect to catch a kid's eye and it made me nervous that it could have been something better.

But even without kids decimating the games on the the game store shelves, these games are second-hand and most people don't take care of their games with the same anal-retentiveness the most BGG users do. I've played games with many non-gamers who are indifferent about missing pieces and who treat their games pretty nonchalantly. These are often the same people who donate games to the thrift store so finding good games is complicated by the need to find complete games.
 
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17. Board Game: Junk Yard [Average Rating:5.88 Unranked]
Board Game: Junk Yard
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Microbadge: 2019 Solitaire Print and Play Contest participantMicrobadge: Classic Arcade fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Raspberry Pi fanMicrobadge: U.S. National Parks fan
An Impossible Mess

I almost forgot one of my biggest grievances with thrift stores is that they are often a huge mess. Especially game/toy aisles. This is directly in relation to the fact that unsupervised children (and sometimes, sadly, supervised children) routinely dump game contents on the floor. I normally ignore the fact the floors are almost always cluttered because the prices are so low, but I certainly wouldn't put up messes of thrift store caliber at any other store.

I routinely have to step over clutter when browsing the game aisle and have searched the misc bits on the floor more than once when looking to see if a missing piece had just recently fallen out.
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18. Board Game: P.U. The Guessing Game of Smells [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
Board Game: P.U. The Guessing Game of Smells
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Microbadge: 2019 Solitaire Print and Play Contest participantMicrobadge: Classic Arcade fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Raspberry Pi fanMicrobadge: U.S. National Parks fan
Is the Smell Worth It?

The Thrift Store Irritant Squad may be a joke, but it based on a universal truth that every thrifter encounters. Thrifting requires shopping with some very annoying people. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to criticize anyone and I know that many people shop at thrift stores out of necessity rather than fun. I'm glad that thrift stores exist to help them and my thrifting experience has helped me realize just how fortunate I am in life.

That being said, the clientèle at thrift stores are often elderly, slow, stinky, and obese. I have had more than one experience where I was not able to enter the game aisle due to an extremely overweight person blocking the path. I've also encountered some of the smelliest people I've ever met - people who smell like they haven't taken a shower in weeks or just recently messed their pants. Waiting in line can be an excruciating experience as you wait for amazingly slow people to unload their carts.

Also, thrift stores have a rather unique smell, which isn't very pleasant. Maybe it comes from all the used clothes or some of the stinkier shoppers, but it always there and sometimes manages to work its way into the games I've purchased. I have thrown games away due to smells that wouldn't go away.

I can certainly put up with all of this when I'm finding cool stuff, but when I've made trip after trip and left empty handed, some of the annoyances seem to magnify in my mind. I have had some very cruel thoughts towards people who are much less fortunate than I, just because I was annoyed that they were delaying me from buying a board game. I didn't like that about myself but I also didn't like repeatedly entering into the smelly zone.

Eventually, I had to ask myself if putting up with the annoyances of thrift store shopping was worth it when I can buy games in much more pleasant environments for not that much more money.
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19. Board Game: Greed [Average Rating:5.07 Unranked]
Board Game: Greed
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Microbadge: 2019 Solitaire Print and Play Contest participantMicrobadge: Classic Arcade fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Raspberry Pi fanMicrobadge: U.S. National Parks fan
I Got Selfish

I don't know if this affects other people or if it was just me, but I found that I started getting greedy about thrifting, as if I was in a competition with other local thrifters. I'm ashamed to admit that I started getting annoyed when I saw other people's finds - especially if I was in a dry spell. I once got to a local thrift store and saw a fellow thrifter leaving with a top 50 game just as I arrived. I got jealous and thought, "If I'd have just gotten there 5 minutes earlier it could have been mine!" This was problematic for me for a couple of reasons:

1) We were not in a competition. I like seeing everyone find cool stuff. I've found a lot of good stuff, and other people certainly deserve the same.
2) This was the same person who had very generously given me six or seven wargames just a few months ago. (He asked for only 100 GG.) I was immediately angry at myself for feeling jealous about his find when he had been so giving to me.
3.) The game wasn't even one I really wanted anyway. Sure, I'd be happy to find a highly ranked game, but it wasn't exactly one that I'd been dying to play.

Basically, I felt like a jerk and like I was taking thrifting way too seriously. It was really from that moment that I determined that I needed to take a step back and reevaluate my priorities.

I've been lucky enough to find most of the games I really wanted to add to my collection but didn't want to spend $50+ for on eBay. (Most of these include classic Avalon Hill titles but I have found a few recently published games as well.) I realized that there wasn't very much common thrift store stuff left that I really wanted to add to my collection. So I had to ask myself what I was going for. As I've already stated, I think selling things on eBay is sort of a pain in the butt so I wasn't really even going for the potential revenue. The only thing that I could determine was that I really was addicted to the hobby and was just being greedy about it.
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20. Board Game: Choose A Way to Happiness [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Choose A Way to Happiness
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Microbadge: 2019 Solitaire Print and Play Contest participantMicrobadge: Classic Arcade fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Raspberry Pi fanMicrobadge: U.S. National Parks fan
Thrifting in the Future

I decided that during the month of March I would take a huge step back. I've been into a thrift store about three times during the month, all of them visits I made when I was actually nearby a thrift store (like in the same parking lot). I saw a few things I probably would have bought before, but I left them behind because I didn't really want them.

The month off actually left me feeling a little better. I still read the thrift lists and enjoy seeing what my friends find, but I don't actively do it myself. I've spent more time playing games with my family and learned a few of the long-unplayed games that have been sitting on my shelf for months.

So have I quit thrifting? No, but there will be some changes to they way I do it. I doubt (and sincerely hope) that I'll ever get involved with it the way I was during the latter half of 2007 and beginning of 2008. That was just kind of ugly.

First off, since I am currently looking for a job, I highly doubt I will buy anything until I find a new position. Obviously, I'd make an exception if I happened to see a nice copy of Up Front but for most of the thrift store stuff, it just isn't a good way to spend money when my wife and I need to be carefully budgeting.

When I do find a new job, I will probably resume making at least a weekly thrift stop but I never plan on "taking the long way home from work" just to stop at the thrift store ever again. (It's been wonderful getting places 45 minutes earlier because I'm not making three stops on the way!)

I hope to maintain the friendships I've made with the people on the thrift lists and also hope to find more amazing finds in the future. I'll just be doing it on a much much smaller scale.

Edit: Choose a Way to Happiness is one of the games I found while thrifting, added to the database, uploaded a bunch of pictures, and then took it back to the thrift store. I'd like to thank this game for all the geekgold and I hope it finds a more loving home in the future.
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