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A shopping mall based store spun off by the Waldenbooks empire in 1987 to do for computer software and video games what Waldenbooks did for books. However, until its bookish counterpart, Waldensoftware had a few distinctions: it didn't honor the Preferred Reader program, was usually more expensive than competitors such as Babbage's and Electronics Boutique, and had a large selection but few copies of available items in stock. The Waldensoftware I spent much of my youth perusing preferred their customers to preorder and special order titles rather than sell them right off the shelf.

The store had a bad record of backing unpopular formats. I still remember the time the store I frequented overordered Sega CD games and systems. Ironically, the first time the store stocked up on merchandise, it's for a system that sold poorly. History repeated itself when the store also bulked up on Sega 32X, Nintendo Virtual Boy, and Sega Saturn merchandise in following years (On the other hand, the closeout and liquidation sales were something to see: Virtual Boy for $20! If only I'd snapped one up when I had the chance. On the other hand, I still have my eyesight).

Despite these negatives, the store did seem to excel in carrying obscure and unusual titles. I still remember checking out the boxes of Japanese import games for Virtual Boy, Super NES, and Game Boy. They also carried obscure PC titles (I purchased Super Mario Print Shop at a Waldensoftware in the early 1990s for $9).

Seeing as how they emphasized preorders, Waldensoftware often sweetened the deal when preordering a game and offered premiums and free accessories. For example, I preordered The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time back in 1998 and not only did I get the game on the day it arrived in the store, but I also got a Zelda t-shirt and poster (I didn't say they were the greatest premiums, but it was more than EB had to offer).

I moved away several years ago and haven't seen a Waldensoftware since. Perhaps they closed up, doomed by their misguided and/or poor choices. Perhaps that one store was the only one in existence. Or perhaps they were bought up by a competitor. However, no matter what its fate it will always remain one of the best stores to kill time at in the mall.

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