Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Q&A: Resources for New Game Stores

Xeareas asks:

I am in the process of starting a game store in Shreveport, Louisiana. I have been working on this venture for a year, you know making business plans, doing research etc, but i do not have a crew or support team willing to help me and i would just like some guidance on what procedures or processes i should take first to begin my business within the next year.

The Game Store Resource Forum is a private bulletin board for new game store owners. Veteran store owners are on hand to offer advice to new owners. Email Brian Guenther on that page to gain access. There are a couple other game store related forums on the Delphi network as well.
Make sure to ask lots of questions and compare approaches. There are many ways to run your own business, all of them wrong except for yours. Once you get a feel for your next step and meet the people that resonate with your approach, I suggest moving on to social media and other means to avoid the echo chamber effect.

I also strongly recommend going to a Gama Trade Show in Las Vegas before you open. The next one is in March. This show is ideal for new store owners. Cram in as many seminars as you can. Many store owners will tell you their business was saved by something they learned at GTS. 
Besides GTS, it's a good policy to visit open house and game day events put on by game distributors. You can often add more knowledge and get one on one time with manufacturers you couldn't get at GTS. Consider this a professional development expense that you need to budget for continually and not a one time thing.

My big bit of advice: Rely on game trade resources in the beginning, but work hard to get alternate retail opinions. Most successful game store owners never say a word and wouldn't dream of getting into the fray of forums and the like. Consider diversifying into related trades like comics, toys, gifts and hobby items. 
Consider other models that focus on service and not just selling product. It will depend on your situation if any of that will work for you or not. I suggest this because the game trade is primarily focused on manufacturers with retailers at the bottom of the food chain. Having some diversity will protect you from shenanigans and give you some peace of mind. It also helps insulate you from the natural cycle that occurs in any sector.

Other stuff:

The Retail Doctor: Practical bits of retailing advice (tactics).
Seth Godin: Big picture advice (strategy).
My Game Trade Facebook List: Game trade related stuff I follow on Facebook. Made for my own convenience, but it might be a good place to start.

If you're a retailer with some advice, please post it in the comments.

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