I'm going on a road trip vacation this Summer and wouldn't you know it, I found a way to include some work. I'll be going through Portland and visiting Rainy Day Games and Guardian Games. In Seattle I plan to see AFK Tavern, Cafe Mox, and Mox Boarding House. In Calgary I'll visit the largest game store in North America, The Sentry Box. This trip was really brainstorming how I could possibly visit The Sentry Box. Finally, in Salt Lake City, I'll visit The Nerd Store and Fongo Bongo. I'm still looking for ideas for Vancouver. I apologize if you own one of these stores and I haven't contacted you yet.
My main interest in game stores is how they employ Third Place Theory. It's essentially creating a social environment separate from work and home, which nowadays is an unusual thing, as opposed to baseline normal decades ago. A strong part of this theory is offering concessions, food and drink that anchor people to your place. Not all of the stores on my list do this, but many do, with Seattle leading the way.
Concessions is all the rage with game stores now and they're just starting to emerge in the SF Bay Area. Gaming cafes and bars are popping up all over the country. Some of these will be successful, while many will fail. Many. It might seem logical to combine these two things, game store and concessions, but they are not at all related business models.
If you're just starting out, your chance of successfully running a game store, like any small business, is pretty small. Add a second business model into the mix and it's incredibly difficult. Some experience in one of these two areas would seem like a requirement. Why do some hybrid stores succeed then? That's the question I hope to answer. Well, no, that's too dramatic. I'm just visiting, not filming a documentary. But I hope to grok what's going on with some visits.
As for Black Diamond Games, we're ever so slowly, glacially (I'll be seeing glaciers on this trip), moving forward with expansion plans. We'll know something for sure very soon, as our property management company gave us a construction bid in our ballpark. Would I ever do concessions? I could see doing it, but I would buy that expertise in the form of an experienced food services manager or partner. Personally, I'm highly skeptical of the model, but being highly skeptical is a key part of my job description.