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Looking for some cheap anime? Try a thrift store! (or flea market/swap meet/garage sale/etc.)

Thrift Store signFirst, apologies for the lack of content recently. Due to a variety of factors (sudden change in co-hosts, unstable work situation, etc.) I haven’t had a chance to produce much new content lately. But that is about to change, as we swing into the summer con season. In fact I have a new video episode currently being edited (should be out soon).

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I started a series of podcasts which I called “Anime on the Cheap.” Well, it was going to be a series of (at least) 2 episodes, but I never got around to finishing it. But I kind of don’t have to now, since thanks to services like iTunes, Amazon Video, Netflix, Crunchyroll, Neon Alley and new kid on the block Daisuki (not to mention all the licensors that have their own streaming sites for their content) it is now easier than ever for a computer- or smartphone/tablet-owning otaku to get his or her fill of anytime, anywhere, all-you-can-eat streaming anime for pennies on the dollar.

Unfortunately, for many folks, online streaming is either infeasible or impractical. Either their computer can’t handle online video playback; or they don’t own one of those newfangled smartphones or tablets; or, as is all too common these days, their Internet connections are throttled and/or impose strict data caps. Until these problems are solved, there will still be a place in the world for physical media (good old DVDs and Blu-rays). But, although prices have come down significantly, physical media releases of anime still cost a significant amount of money when compared to streaming services; plus, with the demise of retail outlets where one used to find anime (Borders, Sam Goody/Suncoast, etc.), it’s getting harder to find locally.

Well there is one place where you can oftentimes still find some decent deals in used anime in physical media form: thrift stores! This also applies to other places where you can get used stuff, such as garage sales, flea markets, swap meets and the like. Even Craigslist, And, if you happen to live in a college town, you’re in luck; college life and financial destitution seem to go hand in hand, and you’ll always find broke students willing to sell their worldly possessions to help pay their bills or buy that next cup ramen. This is something that I honestly never thought about until, a few weekends ago, while out with friends checking out some cool local thrift stores, my eye happened to fall on a stack of anime DVDs.

However, as you’re browsing around, it is useful to keep the following caveats in mind:

  • You probably won’t be seeing the latest and greatest releases here. Most likely you’ll be seeing releases from a few years ago. But don’t let that put you off; there’s some good stuff out there. In fact, you can probably find a lot of stuff that’s either hard to find today, or out of print entirely. And, yes Virginia, there is anime (good anime even) out there other than Naruto, Bleach and DBZ. Be adventurous; try something new every once in awhile. Fortunately you can do so for not a lot of money this way.
  • Be sure and check to make sure that the DVD or videotape set contains every volume in the series. Or, if there are volumes missing, think about whether or not you’d be willing to track down the missing volumes. Also check to make sure the disks aren’t horribly scratched up, the videotape is mangled, etc.
  • You MAY see a few Blu-rays, but odds are that you’ll mostly run into DVDs, VHS tapes, or perhaps even laserdiscs. The good news is that oftentimes you can find the equipment needed to play back these older formats sold there as well.
  • Keep an eye out for other cool stuff too. Used video games and game consoles can often be found at very reasonable prices. There’s also non-anime media aplenty: TV series, movies, music CDs (maybe, just maybe, even Jpop/anime related), etc. And of course there’s also electronics such as computer equipment, software, stereos/speakers, home appliances, etc. And if you’re a cosplayer, or thinking about getting into cosplay, a thrift store is a veritable treasure trove of costume source materials.
  • Be mindful of price. Don’t pay more than what an item’s worth. Good places to check for rough pricing guidelines are eBay, Craigslist, used items on Amazon, etc. Also remember that it never hurts to try and negotiate; especially at swap meets or garage sales, sellers are oftentimes willing to haggle with you and sell at a lower price. But don’t be rude or forceful about it.

So, the next time you’re bored and looking for something to do over the weekend, and want to go in search of your next anime fix, why not consider a thrift store/swap meet crawl? It’s a lot of fun (especially in groups), and hey, you’ll probably find something cool in the process. Good hunting!

3 comments to Looking for some cheap anime? Try a thrift store! (or flea market/swap meet/garage sale/etc.)

  • funny ting is I see it all the time. I always looking for older titles in anime (Like “Ranma1/2” or “Mason Ikkoku”) last week I found all of Full Metal Panic! so I grab it then week later all of “second raid” showed up grab it too. Total was under $50 for 2 season. just keep your eye open

  • Kevin

    If you want a new co-host who is a completely ignorant gimboid, I’m your man!

  • Daimon

    At my local thrift sore, I almost never see ANYTHING anime related. So it was weird when there seemed to be so much anime related things. Did an otaku donate his collection? Perhaps. What I got was an assortment of anime VHS tapes: Digimon Volume 1, Dragonball Z Garlic JR Arc, Ne on Genesis Evangellion, many Anime HS Movies, such as: All 3 Pokemon Movies, Ninja Scroll, Tokyo Babylon, and a many more. I also picked up a XenoSaga 2 Pre-Order Bonus Movie disc, some manga, and a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.

    Awesome day.

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