Scratch N’ Spin, on 12th Street in West Columbia, has a large collection of “pop bobbleheads.” (Photo by Langston Brooks/Carolina News and Reporter)

Kids around the country in 2006 woke up Christmas morning hoping to see the newest Madden NFL video game under their tree.

Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander was on the cover. 

That widespread shared experience is crystal clear: The first video game becomes a cornerstone of childhood electronic memories, along with riding bikes to a friend’s house to game or taking a whole gaming system to a friend’s house to play all night long. 

With technology that continuously evolves, people sometimes forget those nostalgic moments as they chase the newest, and hottest products on the market.

But a group of Midlands stores is trying to preserve those collective memories by offering vintage gaming systems and thousands of games that customers spent hours playing as children.

Other stores have come along recently. But Software Seconds in Columbia has provided classic video games and consoles for more than 25 years. 

“We’ve just always been an option for you to be able to trade and sell your games and not get ripped off by the big corporate stores,” Mike Mistoler said, owner of the retro shop.

The store sells almost all types of gaming systems, from the Atari 2600, which was released in the late 1970s, to the PlayStation 4, which was released in the early 2010s.

What Software Seconds’ customers want the most right now is Nintendo Wii and the Playstation 2 consoles.

And customers come back over and over again.

“We try to build a community here that invites any and everybody,” Mistoler said.

Rogue Games and Collectibles, in West Columbia, has been in business for five years, making it the newcomer on the block.

Most customers look for 2000s video games as well as tradable Pokemon cards, which can sell for a pretty penny.

The business is still run like it the 1980s, from discussions about the newest retro item on the market to trading different collectible items within a tight community.

About 15 minutes down 12th Street, Scratch N’ Spin is committed to a similar mission of fueling nostalgia.

The business is coming up on its 20th year in the community, opening its doors in October 2003.

“When we first started out, we were a DJ specialty store, but over the 20-year period we have turned into a multimedia store,” said owner Eric Woodard. 

The store sells a variety of video game memorabilia.  From old retro systems like Atari or Sega Genesis to next-gen systems such as the PlayStation 5. The store has the biggest and best selection of POP collectibles, which are small bobbleheads with exaggerated facial features in Columbia Woodard said.

“We have worked really hard over the past 20 years to become an important part of Columbia’s culture,” Woodard said.

The collectible business has remained dedicated to growing its fanbase in the Midlands, even gaining some new, young recurring customers.

“I have been going to Scratch N’ Spin since my freshman year at USC, so it no question has a special place in my heart,” USC senior marketing major Chandler Jackson said. 

His love for Scratch N’ Spin started when he was looking for Xbox games and controllers around the Midlands.

“I lost a lot of my original Xbox games that I played when I was younger, so I wanted to see if there was any chance someone would be selling games that are almost 20 years old,” Jackson said. “I thought I was gonna be straight out of luck, to be honest with you.”

As soon as he stepped foot into Scratch N’ Spin, he said, he knew he had found a “safe place” for himself and others in the gaming community.

“It’s just nice knowing there’s a place in the area that serves as a one-stop shop for all my gaming needs, supported by a community that truly cares about their nostalgia,” Jackson said. “I mean, really, where else but here are you finding that?”

Software Seconds, on St. Andrews Road in Columbia, offers retro electronic collectibles. (Photo by Langston Brooks/Carolina News and Reporter)

Scratch N’ Spin opened in October 2003. (Photo by Langston Brooks/Carolina News and Reporter)

Rogue Games and Collectibles carries a variety of retro video games. (Photo courtesy of Rogue Games and Collectibles via Facebook screenshot/Carolina News and Reporter)