Nintendo Nostalgia: WKU alum launches retro-themed business

WKU alumnus Daniel Moore, of Kansas City, Mo., stands among his video game collection in the basement of his store, NintendosForSale. Moore has been selling vintage video games and systems since 2007. IAN

Cameron Koch

It might just be a gamer’s paradise.

Upon entering the store, you are hit with a wave of nostalgia, of glory days long gone but certainly not forgotten.

It’s a place where shelves upon shelves, boxes upon boxes are filled to the brim with classic video games for just about every video game console imaginable, from the Atari 2600 to the Nintendo GameCube.

Welcome to NintendosForSale, a Bowling Green business specializing in retro video games and consoles founded by WKU graduate Daniel Moore.

“I’ve always been interested in vintage gaming,” Moore said. “You always tend to go towards what you are interested in, and if you can make a career out of it, then that’s great.”

Moore has come a long way since graduating in 2003 with a business management degree.

Fresh out of school, Moore first worked for Dell in Nashville and later at Commonwealth Health Corporation in Bowling Green. He quickly learned it wasn’t to his liking and decided he would rather do something he enjoyed, even if it meant financial insecurity.

“I painted in college,” Moore said. “I said, ‘You know, this corporate stuff’s not for me. Even if I have to paint full -time and be in business for myself, I’ll do that while I figure out what else I can do.’”

He created a painting company in town. On the side, he also began selling third-party video game consoles — systems that play old Nintendo games but aren’t manufactured by Nintendo — on eBay for extra money.

“It’s pretty competitive,” Moore said. “Price is pretty much the only competitive factor (on eBay).”

Moore began looking at a way to distinguish himself from the competition, and an idea began to formulate.

“If I can sell these systems, why not sell the original systems?” Moore said. “If I can learn how to fix those up, people prefer those over the third-party ones. You want exactly what you played when you were a kid or when you were younger. You want that exact same feeling… If I could offer them those consoles and then also offer every game available, I thought I might have something there.”

He bought the domain name to sell his products in 2007. Business has been booming ever since.

An online-only store until earlier this year, a physical store located on Campus Plaza Court is now open for walk-in business. Moore said while the location isn’t great, he views it as a stepping-stone for the business.

Stephen Hunt, the operations manager of the store, said the store typically receives around 20 orders a day in the summer from all around the country and sometimes internationally.

During the holidays, however, is a different story.

“In December for the last couple of weeks, we will be doing over 100 a day,” Hunt said. “It gets pretty crazy.”

Some of the store’s best sellers are an original Nintendo Entertainment System bundled with “Super Mario Bros. 1,”2 and 3 as well as the Nintendo 64.

Moore said the store is about one console generation behind. Though some PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games can be found, they don’t stock the newest releases for the systems.

“We don’t want to compete with Best Buy, Wal-Mart, GameStop — we just can’t,” he said. “GameStop doesn’t have half the stuff we have.”

Hunt and other employees like Nate Hilliard test every game before it’s shipped out to the customer.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Hilliard said as he talked with Hunt. “We have to test the games, and sometimes we get carried away testing them.”

“It’s true,” Hunt said. “We try and set speed records in ‘Super Mario.’”

Hunt said working in the store has given him a whole new perspective on gaming.

“It’s kind of ridiculous how broad my game knowledge has got since I’ve worked here,” he said. “People will just call in and be like, ‘I’m looking for this game; it’s got this boss who does this,’ and if I don’t know it, I will look it up. I have a really broad view of the gaming industry as a whole, where it’s come from… I really enjoy it.”

Hilliard said since working at the store, he’s been surprised by the number of people who are still into playing retro video games.

“It’s crazy, the number of people who want to collect stuff just because they had it when they were a kid,” he said. “The whole nostalgia is still there. It’s pretty rampant.”

It’s a job that definitely sounds like all fun and games, though the majority of time any given day at the store is spent processing orders and then packaging and labeling boxes for shipment. Moore said he gets jokes about his job all the time.

“A lot of my friends make jokes — they say I just play video games all day long,” Moore said with a laugh.

He wishes he had more time to play, but the now-married 33-year-old with three kids said he maybe squeezes in a couple hours of play time each month.

It’s a stark contrast to his younger days, when Moore said he would spend all night playing games like “Tecmo Super Bowl” with friends, the first game to feature real NFL teams and players in a game. Some of his other old-school favorites include the side-scrolling shooter “Contra,” “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!” and “Super Mario Bros. 3.”

Moore said his wife is fine with him devoting his life to selling what many still consider to be children’s toys.

“Flexible schedule, making good money — we think of it as a blessing,” Moore said.

That being said, Moore said when his wife’s girlfriends ask what her husband does, she simply tells them he owns a video game website.

Despite the jokes, owning his own business has always been Moore’s dream, and he’s happy it’s in an area he’s passionate about.

“It’s something different,” Moore said. “You can play ‘Halo’ now, or ‘Black Ops.’ I don’t know what it is about playing a game you played when you were a certain age, even if the graphics aren’t as good. It’s hard to explain the feeling it gives you.”