Nostalgia factor: Ypsilanti’s Game Pawn brings back retro gaming

“You can’t beat the old stuff.”

A person playing a video game. (Pixabay)

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Garrett Pyatt and Cam Sohrabi never thought buying and selling video games would become their careers.

The two friends met in high school and started selling games to make some extra cash. They sold their own games, their friends used games, and even some video games they found at garage sales or thrift stores.

Only a few years later they’re about to open up their second Game Pawn--a shop that buys, sells and trades retro and modern electronics, gaming equipment and video games.

The new store, at 3763 Carpenter Road, is set to open on Friday with a customized mural, store swag, a raffle for a free PlayStation 5 and other giveaways.

Over the phone, Sohrabi said he and Pyatt had planned to stop selling video games once they started college. They both went on to study business--Pyatt at Eastern Michigan University and Sohrabi at Michigan State University--but quickly realized that not only did selling the games put money in their pockets, it was also an untapped market.

So they opened up a business bank account in 2019 and started Game Pawn.

Things took off in 2020 for the pair as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Sohrabi shared that with most people stuck at home, some became nostalgic for their old Nintendo GameCube or Sega Genesis consoles.

“People, especially Millenials working from home, had a lot more time. A lot of people had some stuff lying around but those who didn’t went online,” Sohrabi said.

Game Pawn’s inventory originally was sold online but it became so successful in the niche market that Pyatt and Sohrabi open up their first brick-and-mortar store location in Waterford Township in 2020.

Collectable figures at the new Game Pawn location at 3763 Carpenter Rd. in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (Game Pawn)

Since then, the two have seen hundreds of games, laptops, tablets, PCs, gaming consoles and other accessories at Game Pawn.

The most memorable thing they have come across so far has been a collection of old, Blockbuster-exclusive video games, which were highly sought-after by Game Pawn’s clients.

One of the games in that collection was so rare that it sold for $1,500.

Pyatt and Sohrabi also get to see a lot of families with a shared love of gaming at their shops.

“We’ve had parents who have come with their kids--who have played the newer Pokemon or Mario games--and they [the parents] want to show them what Pokemon and Mario was like when they were a kid. Usually, the kid will try it and love it. "

“You can’t beat the old stuff.”

Games at the new Game Pawn location at 3763 Carpenter Rd. in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (Game Pawn)

Not only can Ann Arbor-area residents shop at Game Pawn, but they can also sell their used items.

The shop takes everything gaming-related from old consoles and electronics collecting dust to newer games players no longer want. Items are accepted regardless of condition, and sellers are paid in either cash or store credit.

Those curious about gaming can chat with Game Pawn staff, who will walk them through the process of getting started. Games at the store sell in a range of pricing, starting for as low as a few dollars.

Game Pawn will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.