Sunday, January 25, 2015

Why I Do..., No. 1: Why I Bargain Hunt

In the late 1990s, kids all over the world went crazy for Pokémon, a set of Game Boy collection RPGs that became a media empire.  Though the franchise still exists, it was at its height around Y2K, when the games, trading cards, videos of the show, and various other memorabilia were flying off the shelves like crazy.  The object of the game was summed up in its slogan: Gotta catch 'em all! Seriously, your objective was to catch at least one of the 150+ species within the game.  The franchise made Nintendo and card makers Wizards of the Coast billions of dollars...but, it ended up falling out of favor with many kids.  Why? Simply because the big "N" dragged their feet about releasing new games with new monsters, and WotC did the same with the next generation of cards.  Once you had caught all of the various species, and collected all of the trading cards...what was there to do? I expect the games still sell--otherwise, Nintendo wouldn't bother bringing them to American shores--but most of my gamer friends gave up on those "pocket monsters" years ago.

You may wonder what in the world that has to do with bargain hunting.  Simply this: Like the usual Pokémon trainer, I am on a quest to obtain various items...but, instead of "pocket monsters," my quest is for entertainment: books, DVDs, and CDs.  Usually, when I go to garage sales, thrift stores, library sales, MovieStop, used bookstores, and similar places, that's all I buy.  Some items are very commonplace and easy to find; others are rare, usually because they're out of print, and difficult to get my hands on.  With many items, I find that if I don't pounce on it right away, I end up missing out.  Unlike that collection RPG, though, I'm not limited to just a set number of items; there's a nearly infinite amount of literature and audiovisual media that can be long as I seek it out.

Some people would argue that, when it comes to finding rare items, eBay is a better place.  Well, that's true...if you know what you're looking for.  At the kinds of places I go to, it's not what you know you want; it's what you didn't know you wanted.  I often end up seeing book series or DVDs that I've either never heard of or hadn't thought about in a while, ones that I'd never think to type into any kind of online search.  Plus, places such as eBay and Amazon Marketplace often include shipping fees that can be a doozy.

It's no secret that I love my entertainment, right? Of course, I have to find ways to get it within my budget; if I went around paying full price for every single DVD or book I wanted, I'd go bankrupt.  The library is a great place to get entertainment...but even they have their limits.  Plus, unless you idly walk down the shelves, just like on eBay, you have to know what you're looking for.  Sometimes, books and DVDs will get displayed, but, other than that, finding that uncertain item could be a needle-in-a-haystack search.  That's why I frequent garage sales, used bookstores, MovieStop, and similar places; you never know just what you'll find...and you can usually get it for very cheap.

In recent years, I've talked quite a bit about bargain hunting, both on Facebook and off.  Many of my friends have seen photos and lists of my latest hauls; sometimes, I wonder if people have unfriended me because of such posts.  To me, bargain hunting is like a sport; I have my victories, and I have my defeats.  Some days I make out very well, and sometimes I go a great distance and come home with almost nothing.  It's not really a competition, per se; I'm not trying to "keep up with the Joneses" by having the biggest book collection on my block.  I don't even know how much entertainment my neighbors own, and I don't really care; to me, I buy the books, DVDs, and CDs that I want, not every single one I see.  I just try and find the best deals on the items I want.

Some people--including my mom--have told me that I've become a bit of a "shopaholic," to the point where I go bargain hunting any chance I get.  It's true that I love it--I wouldn't do it as often as I do if it weren't fun--but, I think I do need to cut back at times.  Last year, I spent almost a whole month without bargain hunting, and it helped.  Currently, I have a bunch of books I'm looking to get rid of; I'm hoping to take them to the used bookstore, but, they only accept twenty-five at a time.  If I spent more time actually consuming the entertainment I obtain instead of completely non-constructive tasks such as poking around online or pacing and whispering to myself, I'd have more to get rid of...which would leave more space for the new stuff.  Let's hope I can change that in 2015.

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