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Subject: Starting A new Game store!! rss

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Stephan Bonzo
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Hello everyone,

In the next couple of months I will be starting a game store. I am very excited and have been working very hard at doing all sorts of research to keep things rolling. Hopefully we will be able to have things running sometime in October.

I was just curious, what do all of you look for in a game store?

Any sort of answer will be helpful!

Thanks!
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Neil Whyman
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Not Starbuck's that's for sure. Do you have a location?
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The neutral evil villain known as
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We have very few in Indiana. We have one called the game preserve and it is routinely mocked for carrying pedestrian games like you'd find at target. I'd stay away from anything you can get cheaper at a big box store unless you are going to use it as a "loss leader".
ADVERTISE. We had a game preserve move into my town (the nearest one is 45 minutes away) it lasted 6 months. I only saw one ad and it was the grand opening one. Ideally it would have a game room or ability to let us try a game in question but that might run into serious money. Maybe a kiosk with links to BGG so people could see pix and such? That may show cheap internet prices tho!
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Robert Wesley
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"Good Luck, and we're A~L~L counting on YOU!" whistle
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Dan Williams
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I look for a professional presentation of a store, not a club house. I look for employees who are willing to add value by being attentive to my interests, not fixated on their own thing. IMHO, if you start with this as your foundation and build from there, you have a chance of not flaming out in a year.
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Brad Wagnon
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Congratulations! First and foremost...I want my local businesses to have a good business plan, and to be able to run a successful business! Too many B&M stores have gone away, and you have entered into a market that is a lot different from what it was 10 years ago.

The number one issue that I think game stores fail to realize...cleanliness is really next to godliness. Too many game stores are run by people who do not realize that a gamer's MOM is going to walk into the store, and want to get her son/daughter a deck of cards, a box of minis or that special game on their X-Mas or Birthday list. If they walk into a business that reeks, has dusty shelves, indeterminate stains on the walls, mold, mildew, vermin, bugs, zombies or hostile aliens, they might just walk out, or they might only shop there that once.

Good stock on shelves. Impulse buys are king. Make sure your displays are well lit, neatly organized and easy to peruse. Don't let stock get low. When the shelves are looking empty, people start losing confidence in your viability as a business.

Games area. Neat and clean with glass cases to store miniatures. Make sure to give room to get around the tables even when people are sitting at said table.

Used games consignment area. You can give 50% cash, or 70% store credit if people bring their old gear in to sell. However, I'd recommend putting a limit on how you will keep the games on consignment. No good having a consigment area full of overpriced stuff. New and fresh merchandise is always good!

Incentives - "If we don't have a game, we will order it and give you a xyz% discount" At least make your prices somewhat compatitive vs Internet stores. Also, instant 10% off for $100 or greater one time purchase. Give a 10% discount to gaming club and organization members.

Demo games: Encourage them. Court the major players and get your local rep to run games. Any games...thousands of games! During the demo, give a "managers special" on related materials.

Tournaments: Depending on what kind of space you have, if you can keep an area for the players that does not interfere with merchandise areas, then it is a great way to boost sales. However, I have walked out of stores without buying because a rude 8 year old Pokeman player won't move from in front of a merchandise display, or the person running the tournament spreads his material over a display case full of stuff I might buy, but cannot get a good look at.

People: Make sure that you and every person who works for you are customer oriented. Time to lean? Time to clean! I want to be casually greeted when I walk in with a smile and a wave. You don't have to crawl down my shirt, but if I am obviously looking around for something, I actually NEED your help. Have employee game demos on a regular basis.

I hope that some of the wandering narrative helps you with ideas and making your store a success.

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Duke Of Lizards
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The thing that regularly brings me to the FLGS is a weekly game day. I can almost never resist picking up something, whether it's just sleeves or dice, or a new game or expansion.

Good luck!
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Paul DeStefano
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Light, clean, a discount from MSRP (or a club to get one) and a wide variety of games. Even if you stock every Magic and Warhammer bit out there, everything else should still be therer to look at.

Did I mention light? And Clean?
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Matt Mehlhoff
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I'd also recommend looking like a professional store, even if you have tables for people to play games.

I was on vacation in Rapid City, SD and stopped into First/Last Chance Games for a few minutes to see what their store was like. Maybe I am just spoiled by doing most of my gaming at the FFG event center but it looked like more of a clubhouse hangout for the local magic players then a real game store. I couldn't even get to the shelves to browse because the crappy chairs/tables were in the way with people playing magic on them.

If I can't access and casually browse how am I going to actually spend my money?
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Robert Wesley
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"NOW, so seriously" then make ALL 'bathe' not ONLY in 'accolades', whilst neglecting their 'hygiene' on inclusion. AND regularly... gulp
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Brad Wagnon
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...and just to add one or two more things...


A good web presence. Index page should have in large and easy to read font your store hours, address, phone # and a link to the schedule of upcoming events. Update your page at least once a week.

Advertise a "web page only special" to drive traffic to your site. Have good pictures of how clean and well stocked your store is...make the web page cause gamers to salivate in anticipation of finding just the right miniature, game, set of dice, etc....

Put a Google or Mapquest map on the front page as well. Make your store easier to find than any other, and you can anticipate getting more traffic.

If you want to have a web retail presence, that is probably something that will take major time and expense. You have to decide if you can expand sales to the web and maintain profitibility. However, if you have OOP and hard to find games, advertise them! Back issues of S&T, hard to find games that are between print runs, parts of your consignment rack...these are items that I will buy from you, no matter where you are....if I just know you have it, and you will ship it to me.

Advertise NICELY on Craigslist. A nice short paragraph of your store name, location, hours and what types of games you carry. Only post this once a month. Be sure to mention specific vendors. On CL, I search for Avalon, Fantasy, Reaper, etc... Make your store come up in my search for games/figures/ccgs.
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Peter
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MadBrad wrote:
People: Make sure that you and every person who works for you are customer oriented. Time to lean? Time to clean! I want to be casually greeted when I walk in with a smile and a wave. You don't have to crawl down my shirt, but if I am obviously looking around for something, I actually NEED your help. Have employee game demos on a regular basis.

I can't stress this enough. More than 50% of the time I visit a game store for the first time, I leave with a poor perception. This is most often driven by the people in the store. Often as a new customer I'm left feeling like I don't belong due to some cliquish behavior exhibited by the people in the store.

> I don't want to ask about special deals and discounts. They should be clearly communicated. I don't want to feel like I'm paying more because I don't "belong".

> Game demos should be open and friendly.

> Private game sessions should be marked clearly so I don't feel like I'm being ignored when I'm trying to view what I think is a public demo.

> Try to avoid gaming insider terms when talking about games or giving demos. Unless the person indicates they are familiar with the hobby game industry.

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Jeff Rietveld
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MadBrad wrote:
The number one issue that I think game stores fail to realize...cleanliness is really next to godliness. Too many game stores are run by people who do not realize that a gamer's MOM is going to walk into the store, and want to get her son/daughter a deck of cards, a box of minis or that special game on their X-Mas or Birthday list. If they walk into a business that reeks, has dusty shelves, indeterminate stains on the walls, mold, mildew, vermin, bugs, zombies or hostile aliens, they might just walk out, or they might only shop there that once.


Exactly. And those fancy D&D/MTG/Arkham posters you get from distributors and publishers? DO NOT put them on the walls. Trust me.
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Scott G
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Good luck!

I'll echo what others put, especially about keeping your store neat and friendly towards new customers and non-gamers.

The rpg.net site had a couple of columns on running a game store. One was called behind the counter: http://www.rpg.net/columns/list-column.phtml?colname=counter it might be worth a look.
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Justin Fitzgerald
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Great service, lowest price, low price point for free shipping. Basically volume sales with great CS.
 
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Stephan Bonzo
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Thank you everyone for your quick replies, let me tell you a little more about myself and the business so that maybe you can give a more focused answer, or some more advice.

First off, I am 23 years old, and gaming has becoming a recent fascination of mine in the last year. One day my parents approached me and told me that I should start researching on starting my own game store. Since I really don't know exactly where I am going career wise, and I have the time, why not? We our now at the point where we have just obtained the legal name, and things are slowly starting to fall into place. We hope to be possibly open by October.

Moving on...

The place we our looking to get is located in Victor, NY right on Main street. It is a nice little 800sq ft. building, with 3 rooms, and pleanty of space. Although it is not the biggest place, you can easily fill that place up with stuff, and still have room to run minor events. We our in the process of negotiating the lease. Oh and there is room to grow in the same building, so hopefully we grow enough that we can actually do that.

Here our my beliefs..

Customer Service: This is one of the biggest things for me. Most of the jobs I have ever had in my life involve working with people. I believe in being friendly, working with people, and just to make any experience worth it. I also have ridiculous positive energy.

Cleanliness: My mom who is helping out will not let the store be messy or gross, nor will I. It's kind of a self explanatory thing. Why would I want to go in a gross store.

CCG: Unfortunately we will not have the capital to have an extensive singles collection. We will carry packs however.

Demo Copies: I plan on having hopefully a demo copy of every game/card game I cary in the store. Its very important for game nights, as well as demoing stuff to the customers.

Events: I will host events, game nights, minor tournaments, so on.

impulse buying: I am working on collecting info on impulse buying things, anyone know anything good?

hmmmm...not sure what else to put, I will post more tomorrow.

Thanks again for all the info!
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Dice bags!
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Hey, that's not too far from us, and on our way to Rochester!

I look for clean bathrooms, employees that say hello when we come in, a sale table, and possibly store copies to look at (I bought Stone Age after being able to see the components first hand).

I'd really like to buy and sell used games.
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This Guy
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My FLGS just celebrated their 5th anniversary and seem to be doing better all the time.

One bit of advice they got when they opened their brick and mortar was to cultivate nice customers.

As part of their 5th anniversary party, they put up a plaque with the names of customers who've helped make the store a success by organizing and helping out.

If someone complains that another person is being jerk, they handle it.
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Jacob H. T.
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If you really want to succeed, look at other successful game stores. Maybe ask some of the people on here which shops are their favorites. After finding a store that is similar to what you want, call that store. Ask for a time to talk to an owner. Make some connections. It's not uncommon for small game store owners in one state to share information with game store owners in another state. They're not going to lose sales if your store does well. If your store does well, they have a great source for information themselves.

Most newly-formed game stores fail.

Be careful, be cautious; talk to anyone that has run a small business.

I think some ideas can be problematic if you don't look at them closely enough.

Here's just some concerns I have.

Having a gaming area is more beneficial, if you are able to sell beverages and snacks.

Carrying too many products is bad. If you have money tied up in games that are not selling, that is taking away money you could be putting into other games that could be selling. Games that are just sitting on the shelf are also taking space away from games that could be selling or from gaming areas or demo areas.

Keep in mind the holidays. Some game stores make more money in the Christmas months than the rest of the year combined. To do this, some game stores take out massive loans with the plans of repaying them back in January. The holiday profits are able to keep these game stores afloat all year long. Make sure you are able to have enough product to get these holiday sales.

Good luck with your company.
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Chris Hobbs
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wryone wrote:
The rpg.net site had a couple of columns on running a game store. One was called behind the counter: http://www.rpg.net/columns/list-column.phtml?colname=counter it might be worth a look.


^ This looks like a terrific resource.

I'd also recommend taking a listening to several episodes of the Paper Money Podcast: http://www.purplepawn.com/category/papermoney/ - specifically, episodes 46 and 47 which are titled "Opening a Game Store" and "Opening a Game Store Followup".

The advice I'd give? Make sure you understand the difference between running a business and a having a hobby. Gaming is fun. Running a business can be fun. It is also hard, stressful and easy to screw up. Put together a plan, a real plan, decide now who your customers are going to be, and match your store to their wants and needs, not a random collection of semi-strangers on the internet

I suspect, at a glance, that you have a tough row to hoe where you're looking. Victor looks like a really small town; will you be able to pull customers in from other cities? Looks like Rochester isn't all that far away, but there'll have to be little competition there and you'll have to provide something so attractive to your potential customers there to make the drive.

I wish you luck, and I encourage do the math and a lot of planning ahead of time.
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J.L. Robert
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Know that there's a difference between "games people would like to see on a store's shelves" and "games people would buy from a store's shelves." If all of the people who give you recommendations are recommending games they already own, those are, in effect, lost sales.
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Paul Nowak
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The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. - GKC
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Avoid these mistakes:

Tales of a former game store manager
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Bryan Maxwell
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Contact ZMan games about their ZForce program. They will hook you up with one of their reps who will work with you to schedule demos of ZMan games.

- The store gets traffic and gets some free demo games.
- The ZForce member gets credit with ZMan toward free games.
- ZMan gets publicity and sells more games.

Win, win, win.
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Paul Nowak
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I also suggest you get a copy of Dave Wallace's book about running a game/comic/hobby store, since he successfully runs a chain himself.

SJBenoist wrote:
Incidentally, if anyone has trouble getting Dave Wallace's book, geek mail me and I'll ask him for a copy.

Edit:
Please note Dave does not give his book away. He asks 21.95$ (after sales tax is 23.57$).

Also, if you want to order the book directly, The Fantasy Shop St. Charles phone # is (636) 947 - 8330.
 
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Mike Jones
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Lot's of Gaming Room space (with extended hours)
A minimal discount (10-15%) maybe linked to purchases of 'large special orders'

Good Luck.
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