With a threadbare, mustard-colored sofa and mismatching area rug, the back room of Magpie and Crow feels so much like a 1980s basement solid in amber. A tiny outdated box TV perches atop a wood-paneled media case, with a dusty glass door that clicks into place.
Today, the case holds gaming techniques from each decade: the Sega Master, PlayStation 1, and universally beloved Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Towering arcade video games bookend the TV, which is connected with controllers—as if somebody is just about to take a seat down and begin enjoying Super Mario World.
This is the entire point, based on Alec Featherstone and Adele Edwards, companions and co-owners of the retro recreation retailer.
“We have an arcade sort of vibe,” says Edwards. “We wanted it to feel like your grandma’s basement, with the wood-paneled walls and your outdated floral sofa.”
“We want this to be an extension,” Featherstone adds, “of what you think of when you consider your dream recreation retailer.”
Magpie and Crow, the most recent store to open on Wait Avenue in Wake Forest is a spot for people to simply hang out—a “geeky, nerdy YMCA,” as Featherstone describes it. He and Edwards hope kids from the nearby Wake Forest High School will feel comfy coming by the shop after college to play video games or do their homework.
The couple also plans to start out hosting events like online game tournaments, Dungeons and Dragons classes, and even seminars on the method to clear and look after retro expertise. A completely different local artist shall be featured of their retailer each month, with work for sale on the walls. Even the arcade video games help the group, serving as donation bins for native nonprofits.
“The core of it for us is always neighborhood,” says Edwards. “We want to construct and cultivate that community of various people. We need this to really feel like a secure space for everyone.”
The retailer has to make money to maintain the lights on, Featherstone says, but the enterprise means more than that to him and Edwards. For them, Magpie and Crow is an extension of their very own love for video games and “nerd culture.”
“The video video games are definitely our authentic loves, however we’ve also got toys and books and media and vinyl and comics,” says Edwards. “It all feeds into itself. We have such a ardour for that community and for fandom generally.”
The Origin Story
Edwards and Featherstone moved from Texas to North Carolina after business at Featherstone’s first venture, Freaks and Geeks, waned during the pandemic. That first retailer grew out of Featherstone’s hobby of accumulating retro video video games.
“Anyone who collects something understands that sometimes you search for at your assortment and also you notice you have far too much stuff,” he says. “It turns into buying and selling with your friends or trading for things that you simply want, or selling, or gifting. So it morphed into type of a aspect hustle.”
Featherstone and Edwards first founded Magpie and Crow to promote products on-line. Occasionally, in addition they bought merchandise in person at different gaming conventions up and down the East Coast. In 2021, when the pair first visited North Carolina, “we just fell in love with it,” Edwards says. After studying that there was an audience and demand for retro video games in the Triangle, plans began to take form for a new retailer.
Magpie and Crow formally opened its doors for the primary time earlier this month. More than 300 people confirmed up for the store’s gentle opening, some coming from as far as two hours away. For each buyer, there was something to discover … or rediscover.
Like the birds featured in the store’s name, Featherstone and Edwards collect slightly bit of everything. In addition to the hundreds of video video games lined up along the wall, the shop is full of comic books, collectibles, and trading cards. There’s a cupboard of tabletop games and a shelf of music, from CDs to cassettes. VHS tapes and DVDs fill another nearby cupboard, with stacks of manga and anime resting on top.
None of these items are bulk-ordered, in accordance with Featherstone. He and Edwards spend early morning weekend hours at garage gross sales looking down rare and retro merchandise. Their inventory is at all times altering, and the “buy, promote, trade” sign on the shop window represents a philosophy they embrace in each facet of their enterprise.
Ultimately, every customer that comes in the retailer has a special definition of “retro,” Featherstone says—but it’s always one thing that brings back a flood of childhood memories. The gaming system of Featherstone’s pre-teen years was the Sega Genesis, initially released in 1989.
“The first console that was given to me by Santa was the Sega Genesis,” Featherstone says. “[It’s] nonetheless very intently tied for my favourite system of all time. My heart lives in that 16-bit, 8-bit era. I see those things and I feel instantly transported someplace.”
Edwards, who additionally began enjoying video games at a younger age, has a lot of nostalgia for the Nintendo Entertainment System, or “NES,” as she calls it. She additionally performed PC video games, including the unique model of The Sims. Later, Edwards grew up with the PlayStation 2 and GameCube, each consoles of the early 2000s.
A New Generation
Today, the couple sees teenagers come into the store reminiscing fondly in regards to the PlayStation 4 system they grew up with. Conversely, they’ve also met a preteen lady who was “amazingly stoked” as a end result of they’d a cassette Walkman.
“She was with her mother and she or he received this little cassette player,” Edwards adds. “And her mom was so excited for her. She stated, ‘I bear in mind the day I got my first Walkman.’”
“Everything that was previous is new once more,” says Featherstone. “Mario just came out with a full 3D film. Sonic just got a remastered re-release of a bunch of the older video games. At conventions, we’ve seen fathers convey their child up and be like, ‘My son simply received this Sonic recreation from grandpa for his [Nintendo] Switch, and I wish to show him the older ones.”
Magpie and Crow is a place for people to find the issues they discover “cool,” and to introduce it to their friends and family, based on Featherstone. Seeing people so pleased to search out these rare items provides Featherstone a “little [feeling of] euphoria each time,” he says.
“It’s such a pleasant and heat and fuzzy feeling,” Edwards adds. “If I give it some thought too much, I’ll begin tearing up. Like, individuals like this! It’s such an extension of ourselves.”
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