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January 2017 Retro Gaming Article

January 8, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

FuncoLand stores were once full of Atari, Nintendo & Sega games

Funcoland's stores were full of Atari, Nintendo & Sega games
As gaming shifted into higher-capacity disc media, I was drawn to FuncoLand's commitment to game cartridge sales.
Seeing this image of FuncoLand's game boxes brought back memories of many visits to the one near my house, If you look around online you'll find plenty of complaints about their sales process, but where else could you go and browse through 2600, NES, and Genesis games? FuncoLand and similar stores played a vital role in broadening the reach of video games.

Bring Home the Fun!
Long ago when I was a kid, I bought Atari 2600 games in all kinds of crazy places from TV stores to pharmacies. My original VCS was purchased from an appliance retailer. They had to get a long ladder and climb up to the overhead shelves to retrieve the box that would change my young life. My Mom and I stood amidst washers, driers, dishwashers, and refrigerators waiting for the rep to bring down a box... and a copy of Space Invaders!

When video game stores began to pop up, they brought competition which helped level out prices and offered more variety. In my area from the early 80s and beyond, there were Electronic Boutiques, Babbages, Software Etcs, and FuncoLands.

When these places dried up, GameStop moved in. At the time I had no idea who GameStop was nor that they had bought out all of my favorite stores. All I knew was gaming selection was dwindling and the NES and 2600 carts I used to buy disappeared from retail shelves. From my youthful perspective, GameStop was the enemy. They drove away the variety of stores I loved. Dark times indeed.

Funcoland game storage boxes As you can see below, all the places I once loved to shop for video games were swallowed up by GameStop through mergers and acquisitions. Seeing these stores vanish was a great loss to the gaming community in terms of the variety of products they once offered. The worst loss for me was FuncoLand as they were the only one selling older games, like Atari 2600 carts.

From Funding Universe:
  • 1983: James B. McCurry and Gary M. Kusin found Babbage's, Inc., opening the first Babbage's software store in a Dallas regional mall.
  • 1984: B. Dalton Bookseller Inc. creates a division called Software Etc. to open software stores within B. Dalton bookstores.
  • 1986: Dayton Hudson Corporation sells B. Dalton to Barnes & Noble, Inc. (B&N) and partners.
  • 1987: Software Etc. is split off from B. Dalton, begins operating as Software Etc. Stores, Inc., and starts shift to standalone locations.
  • 1988: Babbage's is taken public to accelerate an expansion drive.
  • 1992: Software Etc. Stores is taken public.
  • 1994: Babbage's merges with Software Etc., forming NeoStar Retail Group, Inc.
  • 1996: NeoStar files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; an investor group led by Leonard Riggio buys the Babbage's and Software Etc. chains, operating them within the newly formed Babbage's Etc. LLC.
  • 1999: New strip-mall-based chain, GameStop, is launched; e-commerce web site, later called, begins operations; Babbage's Etc. is sold to Barnes & Noble for $215 million.
  • 2000: B&N acquires Funco, Inc., operator of 400 FuncoLand video game stores, mainly in strip malls; Babbage's Etc. becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Funco, which changes its name to GameStop, Inc.
  • 2001: GameStop Corp. is incorporated in anticipation of an initial public offering (IPO).
  • 2002: B&N completes a partial IPO of GameStop stock; it retains a 67 percent stake in GameStop.
  • 2004: B&N distributes its remaining stake in GameStop to B&N shareholders, making GameStop a fully independent corporation.
  • 2005: Shareholders from EB Games (Electronics Boutique) and GameStop agreed to a $1.44 billion takeover deal.
Time changes everything and that can be a harsh reality when I think back on all the opportunities I neglected. I can recall many sales on old games as new consoles came to market. At the time I couldn't fathom any of this going away. Yet it did. But I did learn form those days and make it a point to pick up games as often as I can and take advantage of shifts in the marketplace. The video game industry is ever evolving and always taking us in new directions, leaving great deals on yesterday's greatness. Tomorrow may hold great innovation, but yesterday was full of good times!

It may seem small, but still works... although it resolves to GameStop. :)

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