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Behind the Counter


by Marcus King
Mar 09,2004



By: Marcus King, owner of

Not everything about being a "Games Retailer" is all fun and games. There is a lot of work that goes into it. I guess if I had known about the 80-hour weeks, the bad months of business, the constant demand of taxes, employee costs, and level of theft in this industry, I may have stayed in school, and became something more exciting - like a highschool math teacher. :)

But, there are some good points to being a retailer of games. First, nearly every customer you have envy's you. How many times I have heard "Man, it must be nice to just play games all day for a living" (while I was on my 11th hour of an 18-hour day of packing and shipping) I cannot recall.

And, of course, there is the cool factor of getting your games "at cost".

But, by far MY FAVORITE thing is conventions and trade shows. I love the Alliance Open House, Origins, GenCon, and GTS. I mean, I live for those 4 events!

The Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) puts on an annual Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, each year, called: The GAMA Trade Show (referred to by many as GTS). Game Industry Professionals, both big and small, gather to gaze in wide wonder at the many splendors of the upcoming season. Manufacturers put on seminars, host booths in the exhibit hall, give away a LOT of product to retailers, and show their wares all in hopes that retailers will notice them, and desire to carry their products. Some of the larger manufacturers also host meals, where retailers are treated to free food and in exchange get to have the retailers view their presentations on their product lines and upcoming products.

Many of the countries best retailers will be sharing their knowledge with others, hosting and giving seminars on the how to's and why for's of the industry. Seminars ranging from how to hire new employee's, to how to sell used games, from what convention vending is all about, to how to select inventory for your retail store.

Most of the countries top distributors will be exhibiting at the trade show, as well. Most of them will bring some staff, and show off their knowledge of the industry, and certainly attempt to gain new accounts with existing retailers, and with new retailers as well.

There is a lot to do and see at GTS. This year there are a record number of exhibitors, and a record number of pre-registered retailers, as well. GAMA has been hosting the GAMA Trade Show for years, and they have recently outgrown the facility they are in, and will move next year to a new location in Vegas. This year it is still being hosted at the Orleans (I personally LOVE the Orleans!).

If you are a retailer, and would like to attend, check out the GAMA.ORG website for information on costs, times, locations and directions. Air Fare from Michigan is only $210.00 round trip per person (at least that is what we paid), and even with rooms, and such, we expect that our entire trip will cost us about $1350.00 (and we eat at the expensive restaurants, stay at a nice place, and rent a car while in Vegas - you can CERTAINLY go a LOT cheaper).

Expensive? Not really, that's about a pack of magic cards sales per day over the course of a year. (365 days x $3.69 is $1346.85) .

As far back as 1988 I wanted to attend GTS, but didn't attend my first until 1999. I shouldn't have waited so long. Though I had been in the industry for 13 years, I learned more about business, the game industry, and profitability at GTS 1999 than I had learned on my own in the previous 13 years! This year will be my fourth GTS, and I don't think I will ever miss another one while I am in the industry. In fact, this year I am "giving" three different seminars. :)

Some of the things that I take from GTS every year, besides the free games, is contacts. Meeting guys like Ryan Dancey, Steve Nicewarner, Mike Webb, Jim Fetty, Michael Cox, Brian Collins, - I could name 200 people and leave someone out, so I will just stop here - that is invaluable. When I have a question that needs a prompt answer, knowing the head of a company personally is a real benefit. When I want to buy direct, get a special deal, or work out a promotion with another industry professional - having those business cards in my rolodex, and being able to contact the head of Alliance, Centurion, GameBoard, Fast Forward, Evil Polish Brothers (or another hundred companies) is a benefit to me, and my business.

And, being known and well respected by others in your chosen field is nice, too.

GTS is a trip well worth the making. We drove to our first one - I hate to fly (long story, but I have been on three aircraft that didn't "land" properly). But, this year, I am flying to Vegas with my beautiful wife, and can't wait to have the week off! Yea!

I'll be nice to get out of the shop, and have some fun. Seeing old compatriots at the trade show, eating at some cool restaurants, seeing some shows, visiting some shops and doing some shopping, and learning about our business - this is what makes the GAMA TRADE SHOW a wonderful experience.

We anticipate that the GAMA TRADE SHOW (March 15-18, 2004) will set new records of retailers, manufacturers, exhibitors and FUN! And, if you get to the Poker Tournament hosted by ABC Northwest - well, I never bluff, so don't call me!

Hope to see you there, and if you see me first, come on up and introduce yourself! We can check out the new Star Trek Borg Invasion thing in Vegas, or have a meal together.

Marcus King
637 Capital Ave SW
Battle Creek, MI 49015
877-542-6377 (toll free, orders only)

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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

    Other columns at RPGnet

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