Man turns his hobbies into his business
RANTOUL — The 100 block of North Garrard Street in Rantoul is video central, so to speak, for Victor Torres III.
Torres has opened a video game store, We Play Games, at 115 N. Garrard St. Next door at 113 N. Garrard St., he opened Classic Video Warehouse.
The 24-year-old Torres shows an appreciation for what has gone on before in both industries. That is to say, he appreciates the history of both video games and movies.
At We Play Games, the collection of games and equipment goes all the way back to the 1970s.
"We offer anything — from Atari to modern," Torres said. "We buy, sell and trade video games and consoles — anything to do with video games."
The business also repairs video game consoles. Torres said he taught himself how to repair video game components just by experimenting. Any repairs he gets stumped on, he calls in friends or his father, Victor Jr., to help.
We Play Games deals in about 3,500 items — anything from retro Atari to Coleco, Nintendo and PlayStation, Xbox and newer stuff. Atari dates to 1979.
Torres said he has an original Pong game, which he has placed in a "little museum I'm working on."
People who come in to sell their video game equipment can get cash or store credit. The store will swap items.
"With the swaps, it's about getting a connection with a customer," Torres said. "Business has been really good."
Gamers, some of them large collectors, have traveled from as far away as Bloomington, Urbana and Champaign to visit the store, which also sponsors video game tournaments.
"Some people are collecting and looking for other items in their collections," Torres said. "Others only collect particular games, and they'll give (games) for store credit or equal items. It all depends on the collectors."
Torres has always liked the idea of owning movies.
"When DVDs first came out, I started buying," he said. "I had a little over 300 when I realized the massive collection I had."
He liked how the collection looked in his home.
"Then," he said, "I went a little too crazy."
Crazy as in collecting videos. A lot of videos. Try 80,000 worth.
Torres amassed that many titles by buying out four video stores. And he did it not knowing he'd one day turn it into a business.
"It was a deal you couldn't pass up," he said. "All the movies I've picked up, there's no way I would be able to watch them."
He estimates only about 8,500 of them are on display in the store — about one-tenth of his collection. The rest of the videos are in storage in Paxton. As he sells his videos, he has an almost endless supply from which to replace them.
Classic Video Warehouse offers DVDs, Blu-ray and VHS formats. The store also sells DVD, VHS and Blu-ray players, plus combo DVD-VHS players.
Old horror movies and action flicks are Torres' favorite genre.
"It's great how ... it was so unique and different than what we think of now," he said of the old horror classics.
The history of the films appeals to him.
His favorite all-time movie? "Night of the Living Dead," which came out in 1968.
His favorite newer film? "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," which came out about two years ago.
Torres, who co-owns each building with his father, is the sole "employee" of each business.
The Torres family lives in Gibson City but has done its part to help revitalize downtown Rantoul. Grandfather Victor Sr. owns the Mexican grocery store La Michoacama on Sangamon Avenue.
Dave Hinton is editor of the Rantoul Press, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit rantoulpress.com.