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Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like?
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TOPIC: Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like?
#54787
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 1 Year, 2 Months ago  
jefflatt wrote:
SWCORWYN,

I was surprised when I read you are in Las Vegas! How long have you been here in town? I ask because I am a native of the valley and have been gaming here since the eighties. I have seen many gaming stores come and go here. I would love to see a good gaming store open here. I assume you have already checked out what would be your competition and judged the hits and misses in their version of a gaming store? I would be very interested in seeing you achieve this vision, this valley needs it.

Jeff


I have been here about 20 years. I have indeed been to most (still missing battlezones) of the game stores in town. I am looking to provide a variety of gaming needs, focusing primarily on customer service, as that is what will get you the most sales, regardless of what products you choose to carry. I also hope to become a gaming hub, as a store cannot survive without a gaming community tied to it. It isnt a store that is going to open overnight, but I hope that when I do, I will have planned for just about anything.
swcorwyn
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#54831
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 1 Year, 2 Months ago  
Who wouldn't love to run a game store? - I wish you the best of luck!

My local store has games and comics. It is poorly merchandised with a mismatch of 2nd hand shelves and fixtures and bad fluorescent lighting. When i go, there are always hyperactive kids playing ccg's and i always leave feeling like i need to grow up and get a life. My FAVORITE store is a 40 mile drive, i go 2-4 times a month. It has tasteful lighting, oak shelving and a wide array of games, puzzles, high end chess sets and more. There are lit cabinets with beautifully hand painted minis and the staff are all super nice and very helpful. Every time i leave i am proud to be a part of the hobby and feel fortunate to have the opportunity to game with so many interesting people. The difference is that extreme.

My store does not charge. They have a schedule with nights for ccg's (very profitable), war games, miniature painting, rpg's and even board games. Some nights they keep staff in store until midnight to allow for games. If you want to run your campaign there during business hours, you can arrange with them to do that as well. On PFS and RPG nights (the only events i can comment on) they put boxes out with minis that everyone is welcome to borrow from. (they have shelves full of terrain for wargames as well - sadly no DF) This is entirely done on the honor system and there doesn't seem to be much of a problem, but i think that is entirely a function of the clientele and may not be possible everywhere. The RPG crowd ranges from young (7-8yrs old) on up and i have played everyone from school teachers to clergy. The diversity is fantastic and the caliber of roleplay is awesome. They have four tables in the gaming area at the back of the store, but on game nights rolling display racks can be moved and they can accommodate 8 or more tables gaming at the same time.

Talking with the owners, i know the rpg aspect of the business is not a big profit center - it is where their heart and passion lies. Dealing with distributors, minimum orders, restocking fees etc. means there is no way they can compete with internet retailers or manufacturers who sell direct to their customers (yes Paizo, i am talking about you). I make it a policy to buy something every time i go to the store to game, but i am the exception rather than the rule (what can i say, at heart i am LG). I am fortunate that they provide gaming space independent of whether it is financially viable or not.

Location is crucial for the incidental business, which is often the most profitable. We gamers will go out of our way to get what we need, but the bread and butter is the shoppers who stop in and decide to get a game or puzzle for their child or grandchild.

A few thoughts on game tables.

I think private tables are a bad idea. The great thing about a game in a game store is that people lurk and watch the game. You can observe a new system, glean a bit of GM style, or just watch and learn how others play. It is a low commitment way for people to see if the hobby (or an other system) is for them. This builds community and hopefully drives sales. When that happens behind closed doors, all of that is lost.

Some stores in our area charge, and i am not opposed to it. Some of those that charge a player fee, give part of that fee to the GM as a store credit. This is a nice touch and acknowledges not only the work that GM's do but also the real fact that GM's spend FAR more on gaming gear than players do.

I love the selling food or partnering with local food establishment idea. People are going to eat at the table, and you are going to need to clean anyway, why not make it a profit center.

Anyway thats my two cents, probably not worth half that ;)

best of luck!
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#54832
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 1 Year, 2 Months ago  
jls304 wrote:
In the last 5 years we have had maybe 6 gaming stores close down in our
town. A new store opened up about a year ago and they polled quite a few other stores asking what worked and what didnt. All I can say is that are
now a huge success. The carry MANY board games and education games along with war games, role playing games, CCGs ect. What seems to work for them are some of the following.

1 Keep people in the store: Half of the store is gaming tables in a second
room. You can use the room all day if you spend 10.00 or its 5.00 to
for its use. For every 10.00 you spend they give you a custom dice which
can be traded in for that play time or redeemed for discounts. You can
also buy a store t-shirt and play any time you are wearing it for free.

2 Open board games that are free to use if you are using the gaming tables.

3 They run tournaments and have game days all the time.

4 Magic singles are very profitable :)


A good friend of mine owns a gaming store in the Detroit area. He follows these rules pretty well and is raking in the cash.

The table space to play is a tricky one. Around 10 years ago a bunch of stores opened up with most of their space dedicated to tables, but didn't have enough product to sell much. My friend found the key is to have enough stuff to buy so that the people hanging out at the tables find something interesting to spend money on :P
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#54833
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 1 Year, 2 Months ago  
It seems like a good idea to keep everything in one large space, possibly with rails or other dividers but not actual walls between open gaming and the rest of the store. Customers can observe games under way, gamers aren't insulated from the merchandise, and you can keep an eye on everything that's going on.
jackattack
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#54834
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 1 Year, 2 Months ago  
I have two answers -- a practical one, and an ideological one.

Practical advice for store-owners: really, it's pretty basic. The employees should be courteous and engaged, without being pushy. The latter is rarely an issue in game stores. Far more common is employees who are basically there to bull@#$# with their friends and barely register that anyone has entered the store. This is a place of business, and while a casual, friendly atmosphere is nice, it shouldn't feel like customers have just entered a private enclave where they don't feel invited. Don't sit in a closed circle lost in a private conversation, guys! It makes customers feel out of place, and the shy, cautious ones (in this hobby? shy people? NO!) feel awkward having to interrupt you to ask questions, or, you know, ask to be rung up.

In this same line (i.e. this isn't your private basement, this is a workplace) the place should be clean, organized, and ... well, I hate to have to say this, but it should SMELL NICE. Seriously. A funk of unwashed gamers awkwardly "covered up" by air fresheners (yes, I've actually seen this done) is not what you're going for here.



Ideological "what I'd like to see" point: I hate how GW has fractured this hobby. HATE HATE HATE it. It's bad enough that GW runs shops that only stock GW merchandise, which I still can't fathom how that works as a business model. In this age of big box stores and "one-shop shopping" how do you have the chutzpah to tell gamers "YOU CAN ONLY BUY GW PRODUCTS HERE!" I mean, even the GW fans I know don't mind occasionally getting other gaming-related gear. But what makes it even worse is that GW has put so many obstacles in place for local stores to carry GW products! As a result, in both areas I've lived recently (Boston and Ft. Lauderdale), the local gaming places don't carry GW at all. Which means for someone like me who doesn't fanatically follow OR avoid the Evil Empire, I can't possibly get all my shopping done in one place. If I want a neat Vampire Counts skeleton pack or that cool Empire Hurricanum, I gotta drive out to the GW store. But if I also want some cheap Reapers or I want to see the Malifaux or Arkham figures, or just look at the WOTC releases, I also have to swing by the regular game place.

I know there are places that carry both, but they're getting fewer and farther between. And it's REALLY ANNOYING. (Oh, and shopping online, while technically it's not a big deal to have to place two orders from two websites, is also a pain -- sure, some places will let you order any GW product even though they can't list it on their website, it's annoying not to be able to browse, look at pics, think about what I want, and then order it, directly, in the same shopping cart, instead of having to go through extra labor imposed by GW's stupid monopolistic policies)
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#54852
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 1 Year, 2 Months ago  
It's as if he's trying to tell us something, but I just can't make out the subtext...

;D
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#54853
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 1 Year, 2 Months ago  
This is a strange/existential question as gaming stores do not seem to exist near where I live - and that is a peculiar thing to me as I live in one of the most densely populated areas of the country: lower hudson valley NY.

If they did exist, I would favor:

1. Friendly Staff
2. Prices close to on-line
3. strong community
4. a space to game
5. a large selection
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#54883
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 1 Year, 2 Months ago  
I can only talk about my UK based experience but I've seen many, many game stores come and go. The longer lived ones tend to have lots of stock and sell a variety of products - wargaming, roleplaying, cards, comics, books, gaming accessories, food and have some gaming tables and club nights etc. Hard to see how you will make much money using a bricks and mortar model really as your overheads are likely to be big? The fact is people will always be able to buy cheaper online.

The only way you will do well is to have the right location with a large and LOYAL repeat customer fanbase. Lots of advice already been given about how to get this.

Of course, it's most people's dream to run their hobby as a business so it's not just about trying to get rich!

Good luck.

Dave
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