It would seem the '90s are going to come back, whether we like it or not. This apparently doesn't just mean flannel shirts and Velcro shoes; the recently opened Tradesmart, 8500 West Crestline Avenue in Littleton, hopes to also bring you the shopping experience you might remember from that decade in the form of a gigantic, bloated-to-the-walls big-box store stuffed full of every form of media imaginable, new and old. Oh, and rentals, too, because apparently people are still into those?
The most apt description of Tradesmart would probably be something like an Amazon you can actually walk into, with an exceptionally corporate-generic name. The shelves are stocked with all forms of electronics, from iPads to games to books, and everything is cheap, used or refurbished.
At its core, it feels like the massive media stores of the '90s -- the Virgins and the Towers -- but with a used and rental angle layered on. If you've ever walked into Second Spin over on Colorado Boulevard, you can expect the same experience, multiplied by a size factor of 10 with an added layer of books and other random junk.
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As with most stores of this type, it's set up in a way that immediately confuses you, causes you to get lost and forces you to wander. With no particular shopping interest in mind, it's easy to waste away hours here, but if you're on the lookout for one particular piece of media, it might take a bit to actually find it. Being a fresh, new store also means the whole of the place is rather excitable, which certainly beats walking into the few remaining stores of its type these days, which are usually run by zombies who (rightfully) couldn't care less about their jobs.
Trade-ins work exactly as you'd expect -- walk up to counter with your pile of junk, wait a while, and you'll be given a quote for both in-store credit and cash, with the credit totaling up around 20 to 25 percent higher. The rentals are just as simple and cheap as the rest of the place, older movies come in around 49¢ (with occasional coupons for cheaper), and new movies are $1.99.
They're also embracing the midnight-release culture, which seems to have mostly shrunk up and died as the idea of owning physical media has started to disappear. They have a few of these under their belts already, and from the sound of it, you can expect midnight lines for all the major movies and games over the coming months (including Gears of War 3 tonight).
It might be true that the one-stop-media-shop mentality hasn't really worked out for, well, anybody, but if you're longing for the days you'd spend hunting around the Virgin Megastore or wasting away hours at Borders, Tradesmart will do the trick. It's damn cheap too, there's no doubt about it, usually cheaper than buying things digitally. It remains to be seen if there's a special mix in the formula to make it last, but for the time being, it's a solid one-stop media shop.