Monday, May 20, 2013

"Gotta Buy 'Em All"? No...Gotta Buy What I WANT!

Pretty much anyone who was around during the time of Y2K remembers Pokémon, which started as a set of two Game Boy RPGs, but turned into everything from an anime cartoon to a movie series to a collectable card game.  The whole premise of the franchise was summed up in its tagline: "Gotta catch 'em all!" In other words, the point was to collect all of the various monsters, which came in all shapes and sizes, and had varying abilities.  Though there were only 151 Pokémon in the original games, there were even more collectable cards, not only due to some of the monsters having multiple versions, but also because some of the cards were simply power-ups.
The cards weren't just ones to collect, like baseball cards; there was a game you could play with them, albeit a complicated one with various rules.  Though there were some standard decks available that had some good cards, the most powerful--and the rarest--ones were only available in booster packs.  Unless you had X-ray vision, though, you wouldn't know what was in each booster pack until you opened it.  Kids nonetheless stopped at nothing to get the best cards, even spending their allowance only on booster packs, as a New York Post story from 1999 said:
Two Pokemon [sic] pack rats are suing the maker of the wildly popular trading cards, charging that the pocket monsters are turning them into pint-sized gamblers.
Alex Silverman and Andrew Imber, two 9-year- old friends from Merrick, L.I., say they were forced to empty their piggy banks to buy endless packs of low-value cards in the hope of buying a rare one.
The suit says the cards' maker, Nintendo, randomly includes a rare one in the 11-card packages that sell for $3 to $11.
Thus, the lawsuit says, kids are forced to empty their pockets to get the rare cards, which can be resold for $30 to $100. [...]
Alex, who used to be a frenzied collector, said "I spent lots of money on it. It's like gambling, kind of."
He and fellow fourth-grader Andrew said they spent thousands of dollars trying to get the scarce cards that are a big status symbol with their friends.
"People are stealing them and trading them," said Alex.
Andrew said, "Sometimes I used to get too into it and I wouldn't think about anything else."
 It's no surprise that Nintendo and Wizards of the Coast raked in oodles of money from the franchise, is it?  Still, that serves as an analogy for me recently: Though I gave up on those "pocket monsters" years ago, recently, as probably everyone reading this knows, I have become a bargain hunter, or, as some would say, a shopaholic or even "a hoarder".  Thanks to various yard sales in my area, as well as library sales, thrift stores, and such, I've brought home numerous books, DVDs, and CDs, and other items, also.  When there are bargains around, I just can't help myself.
Recently, I was thinking: There are certain items that I have been looking to own for quite a while.  Instead of going to yard sales on the off chance that they might have that specific item, why not use the Internet to find those items? That ended up being just what I did this past Friday; I ordered twelve items from Barnes and Noble's Marketplace--which is much like Amazon's same-name service--and they are all currently en route to my house from various parts of the country.
You may wonder: Does that mean I will give up on yard sales and similar places, now that I have found what I want after all that searching? In a As an article in AARP Magazine said, "Stores are for things you know you want.  Yard sales are for things you didn't know you wanted."  You could also make the same statement about thrift stores, library sales, and even used bookstores and MovieStop; many times, the best "finds" are media that you either hadn't heard of before, or about which you had just had simply forgotten.  Garage sales and similar places have been the genesis of many of my recent interests, ranging from Star Wars books to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I will end by saying this: James 1:17 (NIV) says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights."  No matter how much media I bring home after a day of bargain hunting, I must remember one thing: Without God, it wouldn't be possible.  Even if this world and everything on it were here by chance--which isn't the case--it would take planning for things to have fallen into place they way they have for me.  Think about it: I live in an area where yard sales pop up all over during the spring, summer, and fall; I have a job, so I can pay for my own finds; there are two used bookstores and a MovieStop quite close to my house; and, I've been good with computers all my life, which makes using eBay and other e-stores, as well as online classifieds, a snap.  That couldn't just happen by chance; Someone planned it, and I think I know who He is.
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