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The walls are lined with art consisting of eevee evolutions, metroid collages, and classic video game posters. Arcade games of varying shapes and sizes are placed throughout, and on the shelves sit games older than many of the store’s patrons. This is re:gen games, a used game video store run inside of the White Marsh Mall.
The store has been open for almost two years now, according to co-owner Colin Eason, with whom I spoke earlier this week. “It’s very quick, it’s very odd,” said Eason in regard to the store’s growth since it first opened. Eason and the other owners, Kat Huffman and Jacob Marino, originally worked together at another video gaming store. Eason was eventually invited by the other two to branch out and open their own shop. Originally, the store was filled with games simply from their own collection, and “some old guy’s collection from Nova Scotia,” Eason said with a laugh. This is why many of the store’s manuals are also found in French.
Since the store first opened, re:gen has already been forced to move within the mall several times. “Arcades are heavy,” said Easton, who had to move the entire Mortal Kombat arcade up to the second floor on a trolley.
“We deal pretty much with exclusively used games,” says Eason, “otherwise we’d have to get pre-orders.” The store’s focus on used games is part of both its charm and its business model, as a large part of their business deals with trade-ins. When it comes to pricing, re:gen keeps it simple: “Our pricing comes from a mixture of eBay and other sources. Me personally, I like eBay,” says Eason. In order to sell the games for a profit, the store obviously cannot take in the games for more than they’re worth; however, their return prices seem more reasonable than many mainstream gaming companies. Eason described that a game like Goldeneye turns over a lot more quickly than some others, so since they know it’s going to sell, they can offer more to buy it. “I’ve never had someone say ‘That’s it?’” Eason said about pricing.
In addition, the walls are lined with art, much of which is on consignment from local artists. This allows re:gen to decorate their store while also profiting both them and the artist. In the corner there are a number of “grab-bags” with prices listed. The bags contain a number of games for classic consoles, and the surprise is intended to be part of the fun. “There tends to be one solid game per bag,” says Eason. “And people sometimes don’t realize that rare doesn’t mean expensive.”
re:gen is not just on the move within the mall. The store tends to go three conventions a year: Magfest, Too many games, and Smashcon. At these conventions, re:gen seeks to take the environment of the store on the road: a place for retro game lovers to meet. Going to these conventions not only helps re:gen spread the word of their business, but shows what the store is really all about. While I was there, the number of people browsing grew from a small handful until the place was packed. Maybe this is because re:gen creates creates an environment where there is always someone, customer or owner, interested in talking games.