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Behind the Counter

The customer is always right (right?)

by Marcus King
Apr 02,2003


The customer is always right (right?)

Owning a game store is a life's dream for many retailers, and that is exactly what is wrong with owning a game store. Most retailers get into this industry thinking "Hey, I can do that better." The problem is that there are no training schools for how to run a game store, no courses offered at your local or state colleges, not a lot of help out there.

Most retailers have a little retail sales experience at best. Things they may have learned working in retail as a young person they carry with them. One such saying is: The Customer Is Always Right.

In my opinion, after 16 years of retail experience, that is not the case. Sure, it is OUR job as retailers to give our customers what they want. WITHIN REASON. Any customer who comes into my shop can expect a clean store, well lit retail displays, a great selection of new and used games in all genre's, and friendly courteous respectful assistance. We call all customers by name if we know them, or Sir and Ma'am if we do not know their names. We charge fair prices, allow 100% returns on any purchase for any reason if not satisfied, and will bag, box, giftwrap, or print out customized gift certificates or greeting cards for customers. Free. We will even ship a gift for them, at cost (no handling fee).

However, we do not allow certain behavior. Kids who roughhouse at our game tournaments or leagues are asked to leave. Kids who wear their pants low on their hips showing their underwear as told to leave, and not come back until their parents learn how to dress them. We do not allow outside food or drink, cursing, leaning back on two legs of our chairs, or yelling. We also tell kids who are not picked up on time that they cannot come back for two weeks (we are not a baby-sitting service, and will and HAVE called the police if kids are still waiting for their ride at closing time).

It takes some time to realize that not every person who comes into your store is a customer. Not every person who walks in the door wants to spend money, and not all of them are gamers you WANT in your store.

At TitanGames we do not allow our customers to: Sell single cards in the store. We have a trade-sell day for that, but ONLY allow it on Saturday's. We do not allow customers to try to steal deals, either. 5 times in the past year I have had people trying to sell me used games when a "customer" walked over and tried to sour the deal by offering them more. Each time we waited for the seller to leave, and then banned the "sniper" from the store, permanently.

We also do NOT kick people out for stealing. WE kick people out for acting like they MIGHT steal something. I feel no need to "catch someone in the act" and take "preemptive" action, telling people they are not welcome in my store.

It takes a while to learn that it's "okay" to tell someone that they are not welcome in your establishment. And, over the years, I have had every reaction you can imagine when giving that news. I have had women threaten to kick my butt, and men break down crying, kids wet their pants, and elderly people curse a blue streak.

April will mark my 17th year as a games retailer. I have owned game shops in Michigan and Alaska. I have been "self employed" as a primary means of income for 14 years, and as my sole income for 10 years. I like it. But, that is because I make the rules.

"The Shop Owner Is Always Right."

Marcus King

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What do you think?

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All Counter Talk columns by Marcus King

  • On Discounting by Marcus King, 15dec05
  • Think Different by Marcus King, 11oct05
  • GENCON, August, and TitanGames by Marcus King, 29aug05
  • Another Month at Titan Games by Marcus King, 06jul05
  • The Past Week at TitanGames by Marcus King, 10may05
  • The GAMA Trade Show by Marcus King, 13apr05
  • Con Jobs by Marcus King, 08mar05
  • Don't Skip The Retailer by Marcus King, 11feb05
  • How To Open Your Own Game Store by Marcus King, 14jan05
  • The Christmas Crunch by Marcus King, 22dec04
  • Light at the End of the Convention Tunnel by Marcus King, 15nov04
  • What It Takes To Open a Game Store by Marcus King, 15oct04
  • The Big 3 by Marcus King, 13sep04
  • Discoveries by Marcus King, 11aug04
  • Con-Man by Marcus King, 19jul04
  • Turmoil by Marcus King, 16jun04
  • Business is Business by Marcus King, 12may04
  • GAMA On! by Marcus King, 09mar04
  • On A Serious Note by Marcus King, 10feb04
  • Predictions for 2004 by Marcus King, 20jan04
  • Game Retailer or Game Club? by Marcus King, 11dec03
  • The Weather Changes... by Marcus King, 11nov03
  • The Deluge of Dead Products by Marcus King, 14oct03
  • The Conventional by Marcus King, 11sep03
  • Solutions to Problems and Good Feelings by Marcus King, 11aug03
  • Two weeks in the life of a retailer by Marcus King, 16jul03
  • In Store Gaming, and our love-hate relationship with it by Marcus King, 12jun03
  • Raising a Good Retailer by Marcus King, 28apr03
  • The customer is always right (right?) by Marcus King, 02apr03
  • Introductions by Marcus King, 24mar03
  • Jumping the Grand Canyon with Pikachu and Friends December 20, 1999
  • GTS'99 April 20, 1999

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