The first time I walked into Classic Game Junkie, I couldn’t believe that such a place existed.
From the classic game tunes playing in the background, to the walls lined up with video games dating back to the 1970s, there was something awe-inspiring about it.
Frank Stanchek Jr., the owner, said that he gets that a lot.
Now, the local video game store in Glenside is spreading the goodness with a second shop located at 929 S. High Street, West Chester, which opened on Sept. 20.
Since opening in 2010, Classic Game Junkie has been different from your typical Gamestop or Play N Trade. For one, it is likely to have every available system and ample accompanying games since the very beginning, which makes it seem more like an interactive museum.
Most of the merchandise actually came from Stanchek’s personal game collection, as a result of him frequenting flea markets and scouring online sales ever since he was little.
“It started with one Nintendo I bought at a flea market in the early ‘90s,” Stanchek said. He was able to repair that Nintendo and sell it back through eBay.
The store also has bragging rights, as it was recognized by Philadelphia Magazine in 2013 for Best Video Game Repair.
Stanchek has been refurbishing, cleaning and repairing games and systems just as long as he’s been collecting them.
Through 10 years of finding vintage games, repairing them and selling them back online, the idea for Classic Game Junkie slowly started to take shape.
Then, using his technical expertise to repair broken Xbox 360 systems, he was able to use the money to open Classic Game Junkie with his family.
Four years later, business is booming.
Even though Classic Game Junkie has the newest games in stock, it’s the older games that see the most sales.
“It was a time when there was more mystery in the world,” Stanchek said. “These [games] were all new creations, new worlds to explore.”
This enthusiasm with retro video games is what inspired Dave Sarnoski and Joe Smart to help Stanchek by becoming co-owners of the new store in West Chester.
For Smart, video games are integral to him and his family, as they help him be closer to his autistic brother and sister.
“I would not be the same person today had my parents not showed me the games,” Smart said. “When we were playing and talking about games, the autism was just off the table. It wasn’t even a diagnosis, it was just something we could bond about.”
Sarnoski, an avid game collector himself, was overwhelmed with the selection of games that Classic Game Junkie had when he discovered the store with a friend.
Even though he’s only 22 years old, Sarnoski knew he wanted to get involved with this kind of business and soon enough, he got in talks with Stanchek about opening a new store under a licensing agreement.
“I just got this sense that this is such a good idea and I know this business,” Sarnoski said. “Because I have such a passion for games, I couldn’t help but feel like it’s something I should be doing.”
The new store is expected to be fully stocked by this winter with Stanchek helping every step of the way.
“It’s almost like I get to do what I did here a second time,” Stanchek said.
It’s this willingness and passion for what these guys do that really makes for the more personal experience, like the trade-in process being about conversation to determine how much you’ll get for your stuff.
“Everybody here has the authority to negotiate for the most part,” Stanchek said. “There is no bottom line, no firm stance.”
With events like midnight launches, fighting tournaments and game swap meetings, Classic Game Junkie and its new location wants to reach out to the community that has yet to experience a solid video game establishment.
“The bare minimum, I just want people to come in and want to play more games,” Sarnoski said. “If that helps drive business, great and if not, at least I get to be talking with gamers.”
“We try our best to make it a really unique experience,” Stanchek said.
Albert Hong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org