Hidden treasure at GameStop

Now I’m not saying you should go out and do this right away but if you’re a gamer, Gamestop dumpsters can be a gold mine. Video games, working controllers, strategy guides, store displays: all can be found strewn among the debris, ready to be snatched up by anybody willing to dive into a dirty dumpster. But how do these gaming treasures end up in dumpsters to begin with you might ask? Well the answer is simple if you’ve seen the inside of a Gamestop, you know that shelf real estate is an incredibly hot commodity. Stores are packed wall-to-wall, with games and gaming accessories. With Gamestop dealing in trade-ins as an enormous part of their business, those trade-ins are handled one of three ways: They’re sold as-is, they’re refurbished, or they’re tossed in the trash.
Gamestop’s 2012 Annual Report (released in March 2013), notes that the company runs a refurbishment center in Grapevine, TX that specializes in repairing games, consoles, and mobile devices. In fact, Gamestop says that in 2012 more than 12 million games and almost one million consoles were restored. The report for 2013 isn’t expected to show a decrease in those statistics either, if their annual trend continues as it has since the start of their refurbishment center.
Despite those figures, Gamestop still throws away perfectly useful games and accessories. For the most part, as anybody in retail can tell you, the longer an item sits on a shelf unsold, the less valuable it becomes. It is these items, that you pass over time after time when you visit Gamestop, that end up in the trash. Which is how some dumpster divers have amassed Smaug-like hordes of video game loot.
But like most things that have a reward, there is also a risk.
Certain states and cities have regulations that exist to prevent “diving” in certain areas, making the risk of arrest a strong deterrent. To exact dumpster diving may not be legal in your town. Even when it is legal, there may still be laws which you have to abide by. For instance, if you have to access private property which includes scaling a fence you’re breaking the law and can be cited as such. Additionally, if you circumvent a lock or leave trash strewn about, you’re most likely breaking a law or city ordinance.
There’s also, you know, the whole part of ‘blindly scouring through dark bags and boxes with no easy way to determine what’s inside’ thing. While the possibility of stumbling across a dirty needle or sticking your hand into a ripe diaper is diminished at a place like Gamestop, there’s always a chance. We are talking about digging through garbage, after all people. Potentially dangerous items like broken glass are also a distinct possibility. But to those who take the risk, finding themselves in a Gamestop dumpster may just land them a treasure or two, or 20.
YouTubers John H. and Richard G. fill their channels, “TksJohnFilms” and “OKChief420,” respectively, with videos of their excursions to local Gamestop stores. Many of their videos are wildly enthusiastic, like when John H. found an unused Playstation Network and Microsoft Points cards or when Richard G. found an entire Xbox 360 Kiosk, television and all. Others are depressing; like when Gamestop destroyed hundreds of dollars of gaming hardware and game discs before tossing them in the trash. John H., surprised by the findings, recorded them while sounding frustrated and annoyed at the unnecessary destruction.
When asked why he goes into dumpsters, John H. says the main reasons is “to save perfectly fine video games, accessories, and even consoles from winding up in a landfill where they would never be used again.” And while that’s a great way to view it, it’s not altogether altruistic. Dumpster diving, especially from Gamestop, is not without profit for the many who find usable hardware. Many divers have no issues placing their items up on eBay or Craigslist. John has said that he estimates that he made more than $1,000.00 in 2013 from items he’s sold. And that’s only checking the dumpsters twice a month. It isn’t just older Nintendo 64 or Sega Genesis carts turning up in Gamestop’s trash. Multiple Xbox 360, Playstation 3 games, and some older console hardware routinely make an appearance. While you probably won’t find an Xbox One game in there yet, you may be able to find a headset, controller, or even a handheld console among the debris. GameStop is aware of this growing trend and has issued a policy called “Field Destroy,” a directive that sees employees destroying the items prior to tossing them in the trash. Games are scratched or broken, controllers have their cords cut, and strategy guides are ripped to pieces in an attempt to ensure people like John can’t take advantage. After all, each of the games and accessories that are thrown out are still accepted by Gamestop for store credit. So in order to prevent someone from getting “something for nothing,” the items are destroyed. But wth organizations like Operation Supply Drop and Children’s Miracle Hospitals in need of donations, wouldn’t it would make more sense to simply send their unwanted products to them and not worry about dumpster divers at all.
Not all Gamestop locations fully adhere to the “Field Destroy” order. Many locations simply toss products still in working condition.
So before throwing caution to the wind and diving head-first into Gamestop dumpsters, you should certainly check the dumpster diving laws for your area. While cashing in on a beautiful collection of Playstation 3 games sounds magical, and replacing that headset which is held together with duct tape is a top priority for any gamer, being slapped with a fine or finding yourself in handcuffs isn’t worth the trouble when a simple phone call could help you avoid the hassle.


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