To me, the best thing about Consumers was that it was the only place in town where you could get cool toys and games that weren’t usually sold in local stores. They always had ‘standard’ stuff in stock in the back, but through their catalog you could seemingly order any kind of electronic game, Star Wars playset, or Atari-related merchandise that existed. This kind of thing wasn’t unheard of in those days, but I found it fascinating as a little kid. They had everything, which was both awesome and depressing – because it all cost more than my meager allowance could cover.

If I remember right, they had a pretty low-key approach to the in-store experience. They stocked tons of stuff in the back, and had catalogs in the front area emphasizing how much more awesome stuff you could get if you were willing to wait a few weeks for it to show up. I remember being wowed by all the weird toys and video games they had in their impressive catalogs, and they occasionally had funky in-store displays and demo units to play around with as well.

After saving up six whole dollars of my own money, I went in there to buy DEFENDER for the Atari 2600. I was crushed to learn that no copies were in stock, but was assured that more would be arriving soon. Three excruciatingly long weeks later, we finally got the call that my merchandise had arrived. My mom agreed that we could stop by there after she’d finished grocery shopping, and a few hours later I experienced the magic of Consumers as I was handed the goods.

Even though you could get more exotic Atari games though their catalog, at that time I was still working on building a collection of the standard ones you were “supposed” to have. Plus, they were much more affordable. I ordered several other relatively basic ones like BERZERK and YAR’S REVENGE before Consumers abruptly closed its doors. I’m not sure exactly when or why that location closed, but it was a sad thing when it did. I was going to have to buy cheap Atari cartridges somewhere else.

Consumers was located across from K-Mart, where the south end of Hilltop runs into Maraglia. It was a weird area then, and still is today. I recall several other businesses occupying part or all of that building over the years, like Carpeteria and Grand Auto. It looks like it’s now a Kelly-Moore paint store, but I’m not sure.

Oh yeah, don’t miss this.