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Behind the Counter

Game Retailer or Game Club?

by Marcus King
Dec 11,2003


Game Retailer or Game Club?

By: Marcus King, owner of TitanGames.com

This past month I have been doing some thinking on the future of my retail store. And, in this process, I have talked with other retailers, shop owners and managers, multi-store owners, and visited several other shops. What I have seen is that stores come in three main varieties.

One is the "Gamers Store." This shop is mainly set up to run events (the TYPE of events hardly matter) and their main focus is getting people IN their store to play games, and sell some stuff to them while there, or make a profit off of event fee's. They may have a large majority of their actual space set up for tables, chairs and game space. If they are doing miniatures games, they will have lots of terrain and such also out for use. These stores commonly have a really good selection of a few games, and almost nothing of other stuff. The store owners may have put in a great selection of candy and pop, chips and such, as they want to keep people IN their store, and sell them stuff.

Another store is the retail GAME SHOP (often with comics, too). They have a broad selection of merchandise racked and their store is filled with games (and often comics) of all types. LOTS of cool stuff for gamers and comic fans. Perhaps they cannot get or build enough interest for non games, but they are making money from established customers. These are the stores that, as a gamer myself, I love to go into. They rock! They may have a little gaming space, or not. But they have a good selection. (this is my shop, I think).

Finally, there is the Retail Store that sells games. This is different from the Game SHOP in that they attempt to directly appeal to non gamers. They have neat displays (not just racked product) that draws people in. To a non-gamer this may look like a gift shop, or an "Entertainment" shop. They have posters, game related T-shirts perhaps, Puzzles, and other non-game merchandise, but stuff that ties in nicely with their theme. Their focus is not selling to gamers, it is MAKING new gamers out of browsers.

This is the kind of shop I want mine to be. And, last night I was going over remodeling plans and display idea's with my partner when in walks some of my gamers. I don't say customers, cause they buy most of their Magic cards from online discounters. As they got out their decks, and their 2 or 3 "trade books" and began selling cards to each other, and the others that came in later, they started to wonder what we were discussing at another table. One of them came over to ask what we were planning, and we told him.

"But, you'll be leaving in our magic area, right," he asked (and I am thinking YOUR magic area?). Uhm, no, we are going to take out the tables and chairs. Obviously, the conversation went on for a while. The one magic player became two, and these are the two guys who try to sell cards for cash to other gamers, bring in snacks and don't buy their pop in my shop, in fact, unless we have mispriced a rare card, we rarely get a nickel out of them.

Eventually, they become indignant, and insist that if we don't keep "THEIR" tables and chairs out, they won't be spending their money in my shop. Heh, kinda funny, really. I explain that they don't spend money here now. That we set up the area for their use, but they buy their boxes online (they counter that ours are too expensive at 15% off), that they take sales from us by selling singles in our shop (they counter that ours are too expensive at midscrye), that they don't even buy chips or pop here (ours, or course, is too expensive). They still don't get it, and funny thing was that I knew they wouldn't get it when we started the conversation.

"Good luck paying your rent without our business," they say as they leave 20-minutes after I told them we were closing for the evening, but they wouldn't pack up their stuff on time. And, I am left to wonder why in the he!! I didn't make this change two years ago.

A special thanks to Dave Wallace this week. Dave owns several Retail Stores that sell games in the St. Louis area, and is a constant source of assistance to other retailers. Dave actually drove from his home town to Michigan to help several retailers in this area. Can you imagine such a thing? This guy spent his own money to travel 400+ miles to assist other retailers in becoming more healthy in this industry. Wow, what a great guy. David was the source of my conviction that it was indeed time to change the way we do business. Mr. Wallace's stores, in the St. Louis, Missouri, area are called: Fantasy Shop Inc. Visit them if you ever want to see a shop done right. I got to visit one of his (8?) stores during a convention in 2002, and it was a cool, well stocked, nicely displayed and well staffed retail store.

See everyone next year, and have a great holiday season!!

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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