Board games are a great source of entertainment. Unlike movies or other types of entertainment that are one shot deals, games can be played over and over again. New games, however, are often not cheap. They may cost $20 or more. Some games are as high as $50. While a great game may be a good value at full price if you love it, these prices do not help if you want to amass a large library of games inexpensively. There are places, though, where you can find used or even new games at much lower prices.
Thrift stores: Thrift stores can be hit or miss for games. It just depends on what people have donated. Sometimes you can score games that have been used only once or twice (or never even opened) for rock bottom prices. You can try Goodwill, Salvation Army stores, stores run by Veterans Groups or any other thrift store in your area. Good stores make certain that the games they sell have all the pieces, but you may want to double check if you can before buying.
Yard sales: Like thrift stores, yard sales can be hit or miss. As kids outgrow games or people get tired of playing a certain game, they may toss it in their yard sale. If you’re in the market for games and you see a sale, it couldn’t hurt to take a look.
Clearance sales: After Christmas and Easter sales tend to have a lot of games. These are big toy giving holidays and when they’re over, stores want to clear out the excess. If you’re patient, you can sometimes get games for 90% off. You can find games at most big box stores, as well as bookstores, toy stores, and even department stores.
Shopping websites: There are many websites devoted to selling used board games. Some sites that sell predominantly new games (such as AreYouGame.com) have a used or rare section that may have some items at low prices. eBay and other auction sites are also good places to find used or cheap games.
Amazon.com: Amazon is a great place to look for games because you can find both new and used in one place. They frequently offer cheap games on their Gold Box deals (particularly during the holidays). They also have a third-party seller program where you might find someone willing to undercut Amazon’s price or someone selling used games.
Conventions/Hobby gatherings: Many cities have gaming conventions that often have space set aside for the sale or trade of games. You might also score at a specific convention that attracts gamers, such as a science fiction convention or a comics convention.
Craigslist/Freecycle: Many people list their old games for sale or give away on these sites. Take a look at the sites for your local area and see if anyone is offering what you want.
Game stores/Geek stores: Some larger cities have a shop dedicated to board games or toys. These places may sell used games or offer good sales. There are also places that I affectionately call “Geek Stores.” These are the stores where you can find science project materials, crafts, hobby supplies, comic books, and games like Dungeons and Dragons. These stores may sell used games or clearance out their old stock.
Flea markets: Like yard sales and thrift stores these can be hit or miss. Sometimes you can find a vendor who sells nothing but games and others will have games tossed in with their other merchandise. Either way, the games are likely to be cheap unless they are rare.
Use coupons: Around the holidays coupons for games often pop up. They may be in the Sunday fliers or printables from manufacturers websites. You can also find coupons good toward your next purchase on or in games. If you can combine a coupon with a clearance sale, you can get some games practically free.
Hand me downs: If you have friends or family who have a lot of games, you might want to ask if you can have or buy any of their cast offs. Should these people ever decide to unload a game, they can call you rather than having a yard sale.
Clearance stores Stores that buy overstocks, overruns, and discontinued items sometimes stock toys and games at bargain prices. Two of the big names in this business are Big Lots and Ollie’s.
Miscellaneous places: None of these are great, consistent sources for games, but I have found a few in these ways: Dumpster diving, library book sales, sales where lost and founds are sold, estate sales, school sales, and pawn shops.
You can acquire a large library of board games without spending a lot of money. You may have to be patient if you’re looking for a specific game because it may take it a while to turn up as used or on clearance. You also have to keep your eyes open because games, particularly clearance items, may not always be on the front row in the store. They may be on an end cap or a special clearance rack. The bottom line is that you don’t have to pay full retail for every game you buy.