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The Locals: Nueva Linea



Nostalgia is a drug. That has never been more clear than in the times we’re living in right now. The Ghostbusters are in theaters again, X-Men: The Animated Series is back, and a new Beetlejuice movie is coming out. The people I’ve grown up with want nothing more than to hold onto the 80s and 90s for dear life. I get it; it’s cozy. No matter how you might feel about that, there’s an admittedly cathartic feeling attached to the media we grew up with. Lucky for us locals, there’s a place that has been facilitating this innate desire since before we all knew what the word nostalgia meant.

If you’re somewhere between the ages of twenty and forty, you probably have some personal anecdote about this little store. Nueva Linea is a video game and collectibles shop located on Bergenline Avenue in West New York, New Jersey. For many of us, this place was a childhood haven. It’s filled to the brim with both new and old toys, vintage games and consoles, apparel, novelties, and much, much more. Originally, Nueva Linea was not what it is today. It was opened in the 1980s by a South Korean couple who go by the names of Daisy and Kevin.

When it first opened, it was far from its current glory. Despite this, the store would have looked very familiar. It was much like all the general merch stores that are prevalent on Bergenline Ave, selling ambiguous luggage, jewelry, clothing, and things of the like. At some point in the late 80s or early 90s, the decision was made to transition the store into something a little more niche. Mr. Kevin was an avid toy and video game collector, which, at the time, was quite an obscure hobby. Regardless of that discrepancy, there was clearly a market for those kinds of products that wasn’t being made use of. The store began carrying collectibles, contemporary video games of the time, and basically anything related to “geek culture”.

Personally, I used to go to this store as a kid in search of action figures, specifically a line of action figures called Marvel Legends. They were available in most stores during this time, but Nueva Linea carried some of the older lines that were already out of production. I never knew for certain if I’d find what I was looking for, but that feeling of uncertainty became a bit of a high in of itself. It was as close to gambling as a kid could get. The joy really came from going there and not knowing what you would find. There’s a unique satisfaction in going to a place where their stock is just a giant question mark. It’s exciting and gives you this desire to walk from one end of the store to the other over and over again, in hopes that you’ll find something even wackier and more exciting than before.

Various friends of mine share a love for this place, either having grown up with this store in the forefront of their childhoods or in the periphery of their adulthood. It’s kind of cool that such a little store has grown into this shared experience that everyone around my age has some familiarity with. People who have long moved away from Hudson County, or even the state, have stories that harken back to Nueva Linea. It’s become its own little ecosystem, carrying the golden memories of a generation that had fun on their televisions.

Of course, that kind of fun started as early as the late 70s for some people, and reliving that time is made easy by Nueva Linea. Retro consoles are something that you can potentially score at this place too. Something which just so happened to be another major interest of mine growing up. When I say retro, I don’t mean an N64 or a Sega Genesis. I’m talking about the Atari and Intellivision era of video gaming. I never had an Atari but spent a lot of my time watching videos on how it worked, unboxings of its original packaging, and reviews of its library of games. To say it was an obsession would be selling it short.

This was around the time when the Angry Video Game Nerd and related internet celebrities peaked, and with that came a palpable newfound interest in games from the 80s. I was hooked; I wanted nothing more than to drop Call of Duty and Destroy All Humans in exchange for something a little more simple. Unfortunately, I never did get my hands on an Atari 2600 as a kid. But, as fate would have it, I did later in life, and that’s all thanks to that little store on Bergenline. It was 2016, and I just happened to walk into Nueva Linea for no other reason than boredom. I was not sure of what I’d find that day. To my absolute astonishment, I see an Atari 2600 sticking out of one of the shelves behind the counter. Wood grain and all.

About thirty minutes later, it was sitting on a shelf at home with the familiar sounds of Pac-Man emanating from my TV. That feeling of taking a gamble that I mentioned earlier will sometimes pay off in ways you cannot begin to imagine. It was a lifelong goal finally realized, and you can’t put a price on that.

Well, fifty bucks.