Rich Cicci

WILDLY FRUSTRATED: Avoid the crowds – a local yuletide nerd shopping guide

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It’s Dec. 17 and, as of today, we are just one week away from Christmas! Malls are bustling with shoppers scrambling for presents to place under their Christmas trees for their loved ones. The problem with trying to find those gifts is that you are forced to witness the continuous commercialization of the holiday. Worse yet is the fact that you inevitably have to encounter and possibly even interact with the weirdest freakin’ people imaginable!

In my experiences and observations, every human imaginable falls into one of four different categories of people on the “Christmas Shopper Spectrum.” First, you have “The Rudes.” These bastards will curse out other shoppers in their way and are most likely to trample or beat on others for anything and everything. Second are “The Demanders.” They cause the most headaches when items are out of stock or because they missed a sale; they are also the reason “rain checks” no longer exist. Third are “The Normies.” Not too nice, not too mean, they are generally on an even keel. They want to get in and get out without incident. Forth and finally, we have “The Courteous.” They are the rarity – the unicorns among the cave trolls! They are the nicest people on the fucking planet and are the beacon of hope that humanity can be saved. Unfortunately, they are also most likely to be trampled by “The Rudes.”

At a time when people should be thinking of others – you know, “good will toward men” and all that – shoppers, for the most part, sure as shit don’t care about their fellow man when a cheap TV or doll is on the line. It’s absolutely disgusting! So what can be done for the nerd or nerdette on your list? Where can you go that would allow you to avoid the assholes that are out to give the holiday a black eye? I’m glad you rhetorically asked such a question, because I have an answer. Thanks to my “Yuletide (Nerd) Shopping Guide,” you can shop at your leisure without fear of a riot breaking out in your presence!

If you find yourself buying for a video game aficionado, then I’ve found the place for you. 1Up Games (108 Welles St., Forty Fort, 570-338-2628) prides itself on its vast array of both retro and modern video games, consoles, and accessories. Owned and operated by Jamie Nelson, 1Up Games’ stock is predominately used and preowned, but that doesn’t mean he focuses on quantity over quality. Jamie ensures that every used item that is available for sale has been tested and, if you wish, you can play test them yourself on the gaming stations he has set up for that very purpose. His items are fairly priced, and even his trade-in values are higher than what the conveniently located GameStops would offer – which is only store credit, and not very much, at that. Personally speaking, I loved this store ever since it blipped on my radar two months ago. After that first visit, I knew I’d be a repeat customer.

For comic books and all things superhero, there really is only one place to go in Lackawanna County – Comics on the Green. Comics on the Green has been in existence since 1992 and has had various locations throughout the city. For as long as I’ve been a customer, it calls 307 N. Washington Avenue in Scranton (570-342-5960) its home, just a few steps away from Pizza by Pappas (which never disappoints either, by the way). Proprietor David Romeo greets everyone entering his doors with a friendly smile and a warm welcome, whether it is their first or 100th visit. His walls and aisles are filled to the brim with comics and graphic novels spanning the course of comic history. His racks and shelves are loaded with tees, hoodies, statues, action figures, and collectibles of all shapes and sizes. He and his staff are always there to answer any question you may have or engage in various comic book banter, and if you cannot find something in particular, simply ask and they will have no problem ordering it for you. With exceptional customer service and their wide and varied selections, Comics on the Green is definitely the nerd mecca of the Lackawanna Valley.

Music trends may change every few years, but one of the best sources to find it in our area has always been the Gallery of Sound. If you are looking for a gift for that music lover in your life, look no further. With locations in Wilkes-Barre (186 Mundy St., 570-208-2833), Hazleton (Laurel Mall, 570-459-1093), and in Dickson City (Fashion Mall, across from Viewmont Mall, 570-969-0778), they have been serving Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties for decades. Their collection of new and used CDs, DVDs, and vinyl albums is unsurpassed and cover every musical genre imaginable. If there’s the off-chance that they don’t have what you’re looking for in stock, they will try like hell to get it.

I know these establishments may be “old news” to some, but to those somewhat removed from their locations, and more specifically to the vast majority of uninformed friends and family, these are three huge alternatives to Best Buy, GameStop, FYE, and Books-A-Million when trying to shop for Christmas. Sometimes we forget what these businesses have to offer us in our own Christmas present scavenger hunts. These purveyors of goods specialize in a particular interest, and it’s a no-brainer that, for your discerning nerd/nerdette, you must shop with a laser focus, and these shops are your targets.

Shopping these businesses also has the added benefit of protecting you from interacting with those idiotic mall-wandering zombies. Generally speaking, your experiences in these locations will damn-near be serene compared to mall shopping because the nerd population is generally a kind, welcoming, and accommodating people. Plus, you’ll be supporting local businesses! Your money will go to the pockets of actual people and won’t be feeding a giant corporate machine. For this Charlie Brown, any penny that that doesn’t perpetuate the commercialization and corporatization of Christmas is well-spent.

I hope this guide helps alleviate some of the pressures on this shopping season. This can be a stressful time of year, so every little bit helps. Personally speaking, I hope that you are surrounded by the love of friends and family in the next few weeks. I hope we can try to live by the immortal words of Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted “Theodor” Logan and “be excellent to each other” when it comes to those we don’t know. Most importantly, I’d like to wish everyone – especially those reading this – a healthy, safe, and happiest of holidays and a most merry Christmas.

Wildly Frustrated is a recurring column that takes a lighthearted look at rage-inducing and blood-boiling topics focusing on, or surrounding, various forms of entertainment, media, and possibly the world around us. It’s unleashed on Thursdays on NEPA Scene.