By Andrew Wroblewski
Chances are you’ve heard the word “Nintendo” at one time or another. The company, founded in Kyoto, Japan, made its splash in the United States with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), released on Oct. 18, 1985. From there, after selling 34 million units in the U.S. alone, “Nintendo” became a household name – and, today, Rob Conte is capitalizing on that nostalgia with Huntington’s Play N Trade.
“What differentiates us from our [competitors] is that we sell all games, all systems,” Conte, owner of the 303 Main St. shop, said. “We go all the way back to Atari and all the way forward to PlayStation 4.”
At Play N Trade, Conte and his staff offer customers retro games, accessories and peripherals dating all the way back to that ’80s classic, the NES, and continuing on through for every generation of gamer – like those who grew up with the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Game Boy, Xbox and much more.
“We get a lot of retro players here,” the owner said, “[and] what I’ve found here is that the customer, when they walk into my store and buy a console, is more loyal to me than if they bought their console at [a big-box store].”
Conte has built that loyalty up, he said, through service. When he first took over the location in the heart of Huntington village, he knew that he had to appeal to patrons’ overwhelming desire for service.
“When we first opened, I told my employees – and I still tell them this – listen, ‘They can buy that game anywhere; they can buy that system anywhere, including the internet,’” he said. “‘So what’s the different between us and them? Service.’ We have to be standing out there talking with the customers and making the service difference.”
No matter if it’s a mother or grandfather buying a game for their youngster or a college student home from break who is looking for that illusive Nintendo 64 power cable, Conte and his staff live and breathe service. After spending just five minutes in the store, it becomes apparent that any customer who needs help, gets it – any customer who needs guidance, gets it.
“No matter the place… they like to be served, they like to be taken care of and that’s why they come down here [to the village],” Conte, of Huntington Station, said. “That’s what makes our village… unique.”
Along with the games and service, Conte also offers his customers a place to play them. For just $5, any customer can sit down with a game and play it for a set amount of time – albeit a loosely monitored set of time, Conte said. Weekly “Super Smash Bros.” tournaments are typically hosted in the back of the store and birthday parties are also common – with pizza, soda, paper goods, games and more included, starting at $350 for 12 attendees.
“That’s another differentiator [for us],” Conte said.
Huntington Play N Trade
303 Main St., Huntington