I love video games. Always have been. At first I tried to get into the game development part of it, but that didn’t go so well. Now I just work an IT job, but I really want to work in something game related.
FOr many years now, owning my own video game store/arcade/fun place. I know I need a lot of money, that is obvious. However, not so obvious are some of the other aspects to it. What’s a good location? Should I include comics and table top games for those crowds? How do I advertise? How do I find out the best area for a place like this? How far from a major city is too far? And things like that.
In my town of Kinnelon NJ, we have a little shopping more with Pathmark, the movie theater, and a few little stores. for the past 2 years a store has been for rent there. It’s a huge space, I think over 1000 square feet, or more I can’t remember. It is literal 2 steps from the movie theater, as well as Pathmark, a Pizza place, and a Karate place. The schools in the town are just a mile or 2 away, and this shopping mall is the local hang out for kids. I am thinking this place would be perfect, but I have no idea how to gauge that sort of thing.
So if anyone has any business experience, or owns their own gaming store, please, share some tips!
Throw events like tournaments or something for major game releases. It would definitely help you as far as getting regulars and getting noticed by the community. And just be down to earth. Last thing customers are going to want is another store trying to force them to buy membership cards like their lives depended on it.
I definitely want to do tournies(streaming if possible), as well as major release events. While having the big names there, I would also like to host game sessions/tournies for much less known/older games, to broaden peoples views on gaming, and maybe have them find something new they like. Heck, maybe play some import fighters or games as well.
And I didn’t want to make a membership thing, I an idea I had was to work out deals with the other stores. Maybe have some sort of card that gets them a free pizza at the pizza place after buying so many games, or have free movie tickets and stuff for tourny winners, and also give discounts to people who just gained the next belt in the karate school, or if you have good grades at school.
www.gameforce.biz That page hasn’t been updated in a bit(not my responsibility:rofl:) , but we’ve been operating in Colorado for 20 years.
That’s a decent sounding location, almost the same set up I have for my store. Next to theater that runs stuff for 2.50/3.50, MMA place a couple of doors down. I’ve been running indie stores around Colorado for about 13 years now, w Basically you want a location that sounds like that, has lots of foot traffic and reasonable rent. Foot traffic is very important if you want a game store to work, more important than advertising, once you’re online in google searches and if your store carries a wide variety of stuff, word of mouth will spread much faster than blowing lots of money on ads. If you’re familiar with the center, hang out during peak movie hours, weekends, see what kind of traffic it draws, and definitely talk with the other local owners and get their opinion on how the center is doing over all. Most will be willing to talk with you. My center is fairly busy with foot traffic most of the time, one block up from me, the center is complete ghost town.
You’d probably want to aim for the rent being around $1200-$1500 a month, unless you get lucky, and with any small business, it takes a while to build up a customer base, so the last thing you want is to strapped every month for rent. 2012 has been a rough year for me, so being able to knock out rent off a single weekend days of sales is what you want. Typically you’ll have to sign a 3-5 year lease for a location, just make sure you create an LLC(Limited Liability Corporation) that you do all of your business stuff under. Don’t personally guarantee ANYTHING. I’ve seen plenty of other local owners get destroyed for personally guaranteeing their leases and their stores fail(ain’t gonna lie, small business is a rough business in this economy)
Pretty much have to go all in on what you carry system and game wise(you can see it a bit on the website picture)…I carry everything from the Magnovox Odyssey up to the current gen stuff. As long as it works, I’ll still sell it. Game stores that try to compete with Gamestop(which pretty much carries this current gen and moving forward) are going to have a tough time surviving. You’ve got to carry *everything *be willing to take everything…except PC games. Unless you really know your shit, PC games are just too much of a clusterfuck unless you have direct connections with the publishers. I do really well with DVD and Bluray sales, and they’re a cheap, easy to build inventory. Table top games and comics…not for me. Table top games you might do okay but very slow business with, unless you’re willing to go as deep into comics as games, that’s a hard market to gauge.
Wow, thanks for all that info. How much money did you have to put into it to start? Getting all the games and licenses must be expensive. How much money would I need before I even decide to open store?
http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/17369275/25-Kinnelon-Rd-Kinnelon-NJ/ that’s the lot that has caught my eye for years. Huge, the Move theater is just to the right, and inside is Pathmark. The High school kids hang out there because of the movie theater, and there really isn’t anywhere else to hang out really. Just down the road is a High way, and 2 more strip malls and restaurants, as well as a Petsmart. This is the only movie theater within 25 miles as well, and it has free movie tuesdays, so the area is very packed.
Gamestop, luckily for me, aren’t that close. In my town, the closest one is a 20 minute drive down the highway. I might be able to get away under their radar. I worked at a gamestop for a year, and I know how ruthless they can be with other game stores. That’s why I don’t want it to be just a game store, I would like it to be an entertainment area as well(arcades and systems to play games on, as well as host tournaments. with 7,000 square feet, I could easily have a store side and the gaming side.
I also think having some table top games may be a good idea, because I have seen them do well. In a town where my college friend lives is a table top gaming store, and they do very well for themselves, and also have a bunch of people in it. Even if I just have a little second, and mayb e 2 tables for people to play on, that might get some more people into the store.
Haha, sorry champ, this is still just a dream for me. I have a long time till I can make this dream a reality.
I’ve heard plenty of stories about gamestop destroying places like this. Luckily there isn’t a gamestop closer then 15 miles or so away. Plus I think offering other things like tournaments and an arcade will protect me from their full wrath.
Right, there is a best buy… and a walmart. about 5 miles away, right on the intersections of 2 highways. So there is that. However, other then the best buy and walmart and 1 restaurant, there is no place to hang out there. you would go there just to buy something and leave. I think having the movie theater, supermarket, pizza and chinese place, and karate place all right next door would give you much more foot traffic. I could be wrong though.
One thing I can say is that if it’s just a video game store then it’s gonna be a lot harder. If you have tabletop games just promote the hell out of tournaments. Even though someone said screwt the membership idea it isn’t bad for tournaments. Make a tournament membership like 5$ a month or something for unliminted tournament support or something like that. If you can manage magic tournaments once a week I’m sure a bunch of nerds will come out and play. That game NEVER dies and I honestly don’t know why. It’s a nice boost in sales when people come in and buy and it goes in seasons so it’s win/win.
Yeah, I was up at the table top game store when they released the new season of packs or something, and it was nuts. People were selling cards JUST to buy new cards. That’s why Table top/card games was something I wanted to include.
Now is having some sort of arcade or something a good or bad idea? Arcades are few and far between, but you seem the ones still around doing well, mainly because of tournaments and streams. While I would love to stream tournaments and events, I don’t know how much that costs. Can’t you actually gain money by streaming thanks to ads?
Being as honest as possible, you’re probably going to need somewhere between 250k-300k to just start. If you’re stocking new games and buying from major distributors; you’re going to have to turn over that inventory a lot. Rent, taxes (not cheap in NJ), also your general administrative costs: payroll, point of sale machines,…etc. There is a lot of shit you have to consider. On top of that, you most probably will not be in the black for the first couple years (standard), most Gamestops just barely break-even always.
You’d be better served using that capital to create a more stable business (franchises, gas stations, bodegas) and then moving on to a game store after you know the breaks. There is no inventory you can leverage if your business goes up. The stock of games and arcade cabinets depreciate like nothing else. $50,000 worth of inventory in games is worth maybe $2-3000 after a month to creditors.
Hope you got a lot of scratch. You’re targeting an audience that is internet savy, and can probably get better deals online. That’s assuming they aren’t just pirating the games.
Adding an arcade is just taking on more costs you probably won’t ever recoup. Modern arcade games come with 4 or 5 digit price tags, but very few people expect to play arcade games for more than a quarter. On the rare chance you get a recurring crew its still going to be a year or two before the cab pays for itself. The more likely scenario is you get a good month of active interest before they turn into big dust collectors.
50K-75K if you’re starting from scratch to make sure you don’t burn out in 6 months, but it all depends on what your overhead is going to be, and what kind of access you have to what you need. Rent, Utilities are easy to figure out and estimate(for the year, etc), but you’ll also have monthly sales tax dues, FICA, etc. Front end Sales Tax/Business tax licensing isn’t anything terrible, but operating costs/buying product can start making you nervous if sales are initially slow.
The one I’m running now we basically got all the fixtures and enough games on liquidation from another chain that went down in flames, so we did this one for around 10K, but the stores have been around forever, and I had MW2 a week early(which was another $2500 by itself for 40 or so copies) so we opened with huge numbers. It was a calculated risk that worked, but I wouldn’t suggest it if you’re new to the business.
How you get your starting inventory is a big financial “?”, and generally it’s going to be slow going the first 3-4 months. If you’re the only game in town taking classic stuff, you can grow that very quickly once gamers know you have them. Current Gen stuff is very tricky when you’re independent. You can burn a lot of cash on new games for very little return.