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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?
#54676
Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
Trying to put together some business plans for a gaming store. I am looking for feedback on what you do and do not like from your local games stores, as well as ideas on stuff that you wish a game store would offer. I appreciate anything you guys have to say on the matter.

Thanks for your input!

Corwyn
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#54683
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
This is a tricky question. I'm a huge customer for fantasy gaming stuff but I very rarely buy my goodies in gaming stores as everything is already available online, most of the time for cheaper. That's a shame! I would say that a successful gaming store would need to offer a place where locals could come and play and learn new games; that's what I like best about gaming stores! Establishing a friendly link with potential customers would be a priority. I would also suggest two well-differentiated sections in the store. A gaming section and a more mainstream (boardgames, chess, puzzles...) section to bring more customers in.
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#54685
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
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 :)
jls304
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#54686
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
jls has it exactly right, IMO. You have to keep people in the store and work hard to grow a full community. Demo gaming tables, and gaming rooms are extremely good for that. One thing to watch out for is making sure the gamers using the spaces are good ambassadors -- I've seen some otherwise good stores hemorrage business when the regulars were very arragont/unwelcoming of new people. (I've seen it happen with players (young and old, CCG or tactical wargames) who throw public fits when other people had reserved the space for "lesser" games.)

Stock eurogames, wargames, puzzles, rpgs, minis. Run painting workshops, run tournamnets, introduce people to new upcoming games.
nielsene
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#54688
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
I love my local gaming store and the only reason I spend money there is in the hopes it doesn't go out of business. I spend most of my money online because it is wayyy cheaper. I think Nielsene is right because I left a few other stores mostly due to the people. Several were very arrogant and come off as elitist. I think being extremely welcoming and fostering a relaxing environment would draw more people in. You can allow that one group of "elite" players to come in after hours or designate certain times where they can rent the tables out. That way you a balance between welcoming new players and keeping the hardcore happy.

I do think carrying euro games and other games that are expensive to bu/ship online would help. I spend most of my money online but if my local store had decent/close to miniature market prices I would 100% choose my local store. An example would be tha I just bought a mini online for $12 with shipping which my store was selling for $25. It's a tough market to sell in...

One more thing I think would be awesome would be to offer custom gaming setups to your customers. You could sell DF with a ton of maps that you created as a special bonus. You could become a retailer for hirst art stuff and sell custom setups. Also you could run workshops on how to build your own terrain, how to pick your 100 point army. Get people in the store for demos as much as possible. You could do what others do on this forum and sell your custom made items (flying clear rods, gelatinous cubes, fire pits). Become a store that provides knowledge on top of the purchase. If I'm going to pay twice as much what do I get extra for it?

I would love to start a store, where are you located?
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#54689
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
They do run many demos and a pathfinder game day that has really taken off.
You have to do something like the "spending the 10.00 in store merchandise" to
keep people from just using the tables and never buying anything.

Enforcing a code of conduct is a good idea if you want to keep parents
happy.
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#54692
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
I know I would love to find a new local store. I know one nearby that seems great for Warhammer/40K, but doesn't seem to have an RPG crowd. Another was a huge MtG place, but it closed (I think it changed from being a brick and mortar store to a league/conference organizer, which I think made sense for the owner's interests).

There was a place I love where I used to live that closed a couple years back. I loved their setup. Large set of shelves, mainly minis (Reaper, GW, etc) two large war game tables, and one large breakout room normally for RPGs). I don't think they carried any games outside the wargame/rpg genres, which while being "pure" probably cut into their sales and traffic. The whole place had a bit of a gothic vibe, which again, while maybe fun for gamers, probably reduces casual shopping. I think take an eye from most successful retailers -- bright, easy navigated stores, clean, well organized and stock. If you want "ambiance" save it for side/reservable game rooms that aren't on the main path into/through the store.

More on the well-stocked/organized -- many game stores seem to fall afoul of the same "charm" of old used books stores, where everything is shelved haphazardly and boxes of new shipments are left out partially unpacked in "public" areas of the store. You probably want to avoid that :)
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#54693
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
Maintain a clean organized store

Keep a friendly and knowledgeable staff

have sales.... I buy most of my games from a nearby game store. They regularly have coupons for 10-25% off of games. So why buy online when I can support my local game store? Also, move old merchandise. regular stores do this all the time! It encourages customers to come and see what's new.

There have been a few advice episodes of the dice tower podcasts.. Here are some:

TDT - Episode # 293 - Displaying Games
Episode #217: The Perfect Location for a Game Store
Episode #210: Top 10 Requirements for a Friendly Local Game Store

You can find them here:
www.funagain.com/control/viewblog?contentBlogId=TDT
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#54694
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
In my area there were two "gaming stores", Lynn's Comics and The Book Stan. I liked Lynn's but it was a little smaller and really was geared more towards comics and magic. Lynn's is now out of business (well it was sold and is a mere shadow of what it was) the original owner was a great guy i took art lessons from his wife out of the back of their shop. But he just didnt have enough diversity. The Book Stan is still going good and even moved to a huge warehouse i really go there for 3 main things. Board games (which they have a HUGE selection of and i can actually find some pretty old ones no one ever picked up), Minis, and one of the BIGGEST reasons....Old used D&D books and boxed sets. They are informed enough to know when all the pieces are there for a 2nd ed boxed set they don't buy stuff that is falling apart. I just love the idea of still being able to go somewhere besides amazon and picking up an old PHB and bringing it home that day. Gamestop makes all their money on used games i imagine used books in good condition would do the same.
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#54697
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
Wow, Lots of input to use. To answer some questions.

Quiids: I am located in Las Vegas, NV. One thing I would recommend if a game store interestes you at all is to read this blog. ALL of it.

www.rpg.net/columns/list-column.phtml?colname=businessofgamingretail

Custom gaming is actually one of the things I had in mind. Set up a room with a custom built gaming table. (I have access to a laser cutter and a C and C machine) as well as projector, and a lot of DF (I might have a bunch of sets coming) and accessories. Comfortable chairs, speaker system, private wifi for that room. As well as snacks stocked in that room for purchase. I also have sci fi and modern terrain available for different systems and settings.


I would definitely be doing demos as often as I can. For new games and products, many of which I have started sourcing on Kickstarter. I have a pretty good handle and connection with a LARGE portion of the RPG crowd here in town, just need to find ins with the CCG and wargame crowds. Paint seminars would be a thing, as well as some kind of loyalty system. This market has a few game stores, but not any on the side of town I am planning, and none at all near the college. I have been in retail management for a big box retailer for about 6 years, and worked as a regular associate for 5 years before that. I know how ins and outs of running a retail business. I am in the process of putting together a business plan, and man are the expenses adding up quickly.

As far as product line. The CCG market is too big not to carry at least two display cases of them. Ditto Warhammer, even if that takes up a lot of space and money. RPGs are my knowledge base, and Wargames my secondary one. I would like to carry the mainstay products, as well as stuff that noone has seen or can get locally. (Dwarven forge, something like your guys' custom stuff, miniature manufacturers that are not reaper) Also, by then carryign those type of things and being located in such a tourist city. I dont think it would be too difficult to convince someone, for example Stefan, to come out here (I would pay for hotel and accommodations) and do a meet and greet, sign some stuff and create an event around that.

I was able to pick up some used 2nd edition DnD books at a record store that heppened to have aused book section, got them for really cheap. I know for sure that one of the local stores carries used as well as new editions of RPGs, but I am not sure how well they actually turn over, as they are somewhat hidden.

Also looking at the online presence, there is no way that I will be able to compete with online discounters. However, it is prudent to at least have the option available. What would you think of a way to buy it online and pick it up in the store? Same for special orders that would not be stocked regularly.

Thanks again for all of the input! Looking forward to seeing what else might
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#54712
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
As you have already received a lot of input on product I will move on to three other things I feel strongly about:

1: A store needs to be clean and well lit.
Anecdotal story:One local store could not figure out why pople didn't shop there more. It was dark and had a dusty smell.

2: Frindly and helpful staff is not just nice, it is a must.
Anecdotal story: I walked into the local store a while back. Asked about doing a preorder for Paizo's "We Be Goblins" figures. The person said I was confussed that I was thinking of a free adventure and there were no minis for it. I explained they were doing a miniatue line fo rthem and that I wanted to preorder a couple cases. He laughed and littlerly said "Whatever, leave your number and I'll call if they do some."I bought two of the cases from an on line store. That was a $120 loss for them. They could have had the money in the till before the product arrived let alone before they had to pay for it. Rude = Loss, lack of knowledge of how to look stuff up = loss.

3: Cultivate Store Volunteer that help, boot store leeches that just wanna hang out and not buy or help.
2 Anecdotal stories:
a) I walked into a game store in Long Beach CA. The person behind the counter and a "friend" were looking through a new game book. I tried to interupt to ask a question, the worker ignored me. I realized they were creating characters for the new game. I looked around a while and then tried again. Once again the staff was too busy. So I left, drove an hour away to another store and bought just under $200 worth of books for the game I was just getting into.

b) When Disk Wars was first out the local store owner realized two fo us customers were playing every tuesday night. he approched us and asked if we would teah new people. We said yes. He then signed up with FFG as an offical place to uy and play. He gave us the free materials they sent. We ran tournaments, games, and trading nights. At the peak we were one of the largest "Garrisons" in the US. We had more than 30 players playing at least two nights a month. The owner shared that he was selling cases of the stuff every week. We, the volunteers were helping to drive sales. We acted as "force multipliers" for his very small paid staff (him and two other employees).

Hope that helps.

<dafrca gets off soapbox>
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#54714
Re:Gaming Stores: What do you like or not like? 9 Months, 1 Week ago  
The Fear the Boot podcast recently posted part one of an interview with a game store owner - entertaining (well, it's no RPPR) and solid info about retailing.
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