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Just How Badly Do You Want That Replacement Atari Console Part?

posted by Tim Carmody   Jul 09, 2021

Best Electronics store copy describing its catalog and rare parts for sale, written in an old, text-heavy HTML style

Vice has a sometimes less-than-flattering profile of Best Electronics’ Bradley Koda, a persnickety entrepreneur who has an unrivaled catalog of old-school Atari console parts and a reputation for shutting out buyers who get impatient with doing things his way:

Among Atari fans, Best is almost as famous for ignoring and blacklisting badly behaved customers as it is for selling Atari parts. A first attempt to buy from Best Electronics is a sink-or-swim proposition: learn the rules, or accept your fate…

Koda is a monopolist, of a sort, but he’s no Jeff Bezos. Best Electronics has no virtual shopping cart, or any other Amazon-esque conveniences. The store’s website looks the same as it has since the early 2000s: it’s a lengthy, multicoloured text scroll, as if Jack Kerouac quit the novel-writing business (but not the benzedrine) and started typing about Atari…

Anyone who can’t figure out this system risks being deemed a time-waster. In emails to customers, Koda often laments his busy schedule, and he seems to take distractions personally. He would rather lose a sale than suffer someone who hasn’t learned the rules.

Best has been in business more than 25 years. Its equipment is mostly unused Atari originals, not salvaged parts. The company’s catalog was printed more than 20 years ago (and is available only in print); corrections (including changes in price) are only available online. His customers both love him and fear him.

In short, it’s a throwback to old-school nerd retail, the kind lampooned by The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy. What, did you think finding first-rate replacement parts for your forty-year old video game machine would be like buying AA batteries?