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Misadventures in Funcoland: The Dream(cast) Van

February 24, 2009

funco

Store: Ann Arbor
Notable Gaming Release: Dreamcast System

So since Sega did the memorable thing of releasing the Dreamcast on September 9th, 1999 (9.9.99), I can tell you that this story takes place on September 8th, leading into September 9th.  I don’t think this will be as long and drawn out as the other stories I’ve posted, but hey, those were supposed to be short quick stories too.

So it’s the day before the Dreamcast launch.  We’ve had a demo system in the store for about a month now which was really cool of Sega to do.  Come to think of it, I can’t think of any other system launch that has put a demo system in stores before the system actually launched… but I digress.  We started receiving all the games and accessories for the system about a week ahead of the launch and had them all ‘splayed out on the wall with the rest of the new gaming stuff.

dreamcast05

The Dreamcast launch was a big deal for Funcoland.  I think we had some special exclusive partnership with Sega for it somehow, I don’t really recall, I just remember there being a shit ton of memo’s sent out company wide with very detailed instructions on everything, even more so than when some really large game releases were happening.  Sure it’s a system vs a game, but still.  So the one thing that we were expecting was that we were going to be getting our stock of systems in the store 3 days early… the 6th if my math is still working.  This is most notable as we were not to even open the containing boxes to see what the packaging looked like for the system, we were under strict orders to just put them in a corner and forget about them until 11pm on the 8th.  Obviously there was a big mentioning of not selling them early as well, employee’s included.  Doing so was grounds for termination.  Hell, I think just touching the box before 11pm on the 8th was grounds for termination.  But there was one really big flaw to all of this preplanning… we did not get the systems on the 6th, nor the 7th.

Noon on the 8th… still nothing, and everyone is getting anxious.  We already have people camped out front of our store from the night before, just to make sure they could get theirs first even though they have prepaid it.

The day continues on, and the feeling in the store is uneasy.  We’ve been on the phone back and forth all day with our district manager about the situation, and he assured us repeatedly that they would be there within an hour.  He said this every time we talked which was about every 45 minutes or so starting at 10am.

9pm rolls around, it’s normal closing time so we kick everyone out and lock the doors, much to the protest of the people who have been camped out for almost 24 hours.  Sorry, it’s part of this whole launch instruction survival kit, no one in the store between 9 and midnight.

We spend the next couple hours setting up stuff, and everyone out front is plastered to the glass, watching eagerly as we hang Dreamcast posters, setup cardboard standups, hand banners, etc.  What they are really looking for is anytime the back door to the stock room opens, to see us start carrying out the Dreamcasts… but again… we don’t have them yet.  At this point, someone outside starts to get smart and bangs on the window.

CrackedVoiceKid “Hey!  Where are the Dreamcasts?!  Bring them out!”

This could be bad, because now everyone is saying the same thing… where are they?  Good question!

CoolManager goes to the front to try to calm the crowd.  The thing to know about CoolManager is that he is just that… a cool manager.  The man was calm, layed back, huge fan of Nine Inch Nails, and just a wealth of great knowledge and trivia.

After CoolManager goes and settles everyone down, he comes back in and does the classic movie dramatic scenario.  He locks the door, walks over to where me and the 3 other employess were standing, takes a deep breath…

CoolManager “These fuckers better get those consoles here by 11:30 or I’m running out the back door.”

At this point, he just walks between me and TheToolBox and heads to the back room.  Great, here we are looking for some sort of inspirational words, maybe a game plan, and we got that.  I mean it was fitting, comical, and most likely true.

10:45, and we’re done setting everything up.  We’ve got all the PoP (Point of Promotion… industry lingo for ya) up, we’ve got all these little easy sell bundles stacked up so we can just be like “sure, here’s a Game Informer subscription, cleaner (omfg the cleaners!), couple games, extra shitty controllers, etc.  So what do we do now?  We can’t really play any games because that would just look bad, we can’t all go hide in the back room because we need to keep on the floor.  So we try to look busy straightening the place up.

11:15, and there’s some guy banging on the front door.  Looks like an older guy, balding, looks like he hasn’t showered in a week nor changed his clothes in a month.  I just kinda ignore him becuse that’s the game we’re playing at this point since everyone was trying to get us to let them in early.  Finally there is one last, very obvious, very pissed off set of loud and slow pounds on the window.  WHAM!  WHAM!  WHAM!  WHAM!

AntiWashingGuy “If you guys don’t want these Dreamcasts how about I just give them to these kids out here?!”

Oh. Shit.  TheToolBox and I run up to the door and ask him to repeat himself.  Not so much that we didn’t hear what he said, but are kinda amazed that this guy supposedly has our Dreamcast’s.  He points back to this dirty, rusted white cargo van.  This thing looks like it’s been rolled over a few times.  At least every 3 inches there is a dent on this thing.  Honestly, I’m a little scared to open the door for this guy.  I’ve always been told to be warry of creepy old men who promise me there is something cool in the back of their busted up van.

The crowd of people at this point is getting wrestless and they are starting to hover around the van, trying to peek in from the front windows to see if they can see the Dreamcast’s.  I tell TheToolBox to go grab CoolManager and we’ll get the boxes inside.  TheToolBox heads to the back and I unlock the door.  I crack it open a little bit…

Me “Alright… NO ONE goes inside or I swear no one is getting their hands on a Dreamcast until noon tomorrow.”

Everyone kinda laughs and agrees, so I step out and go to the back of the van.  AntiWashingGuy opens one door and then tugs on the other, the sound of scraping metal kinda makes me want to cover my ears.  Sure enough, sitting inside, on a dirty ass matress of all things, are 10 big ass boxes with the Sega logo on the side.  Apparently the systems came in on a late flight at DTW and of course all the normal courier services aren’t running at that time, so they hired indpendant contractors… like AntiWashingGuy here.

CoolManager and TheToolBox come out and we start carrying the boxes in.  The guys out front are pretty eager to help at this point as they’re holding the door open for us and keeping all the gawkers back so we can get the boxes inside.  Once we got all the boxes inside, AntiWashingGuy pushes a dirty ass cell phone in my face.

AntiWashingGuy “Talk.”

The other end is the district manager, I guess this is how they are confirming everything got delivered.  10 out of 10 boxes and we’re good.  AntiWashingGuy takes the phone back, thanks me, and heads off into the night… it’s now 11:45 and we have to unpack the Dreamcast’s.

The rest of the night is pretty uneventful as far as a story to tell goes.  Everyone came running into the store when we opened the door at midnight.  We sold some Dreamcast’s and games, I made a decent amount of commision on selling Game Informer subs, Cleaners, and shitty controllers, and then we closed up shop.  Well, not before we all bought our Dreamcast’s and games and such and headed to our respective homes.

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4 comments

  1. Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

    (Lame ass attempt to drive traffic to whatever it was in that cheesy link… bitch slapped and deleted. Thanks for the compliment tough!)


  2. I seem to recall playing that DC,
    I still have a spool and a half of games for it.

    Thats Amazing!


  3. Thought maybe you’d dig this. (Funco 154, Cincinnati OH represent)


    • Wow… I totally remember this too. Scary



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