Store Owner Q & A Time
Let me start by saying, I was right on the money in assuming this time of rear raised the type of questions I thought it would. Many of you sent me questions regarding ownership of a small business (more directly, a game store). I also have to say that some of you guys asked very personal and exact questions. Don't worry. I'm not offended by any means. After all, I didn't put any restrictions on you. It just surprised me a little.
Anyway, I'm going to jump right into the questions and then follow up with my weekly duties here.
Q: How much does a person need to start a game store?
A: I decide to start with this question, because it is the toughest one to answer. The price can fluctuate largely, depending on your circumstances. Starting from scratch and buying an existing store then converting it can cost nearly the same in some cases even. I wouldn't recommend trying to get even a small store off the ground with less than $20,000. On top of that, I would put some extra money aside to live on just in case. Remember, if this is going to be your primary job, you have to plan for good, bad, or even just odd situations. Many stores try to have $35,000 to $50,000 to open their doors with if they want to do it right. It is very possible to get by with less, but I wouldn't recommend it. Most of the stores that do are open for a couple of years and then gone in a flash.
Q: What does your monthly overhead cost you?
A: Well, this is a more direct question. I'm not totally sure how much I should divulge here. However, I'm not sure it matters either. The reason is that utilities and rent can both change drastically depending on where you live. I know that I currently have a nearly 3,000 sq. ft. store. If I had that same store in the DFW area, it would cost me at least $1,000 more per month. Outside of utilities and rent though, there are a lot of other things to consider. This list includes, but is most definitely not limited to:
Replacing tables and chairs.
Buying office supplies (register tape, stamps, pens, etc.)
Replacing binders and boxes for displaying items.
The list is just massive. There are a ton of things you don't think about when you start up a business that are going to cost you money. That's part of the reason you need to plan on the extra cash for backup.
Q: What items do you stock that sell well, that other stores probably don't?
A: I'm not sure really. I have visited a ton of stores. I make it a point to visit a few each year that I haven't previously been to. The one thing I notice is that each of them have something that I don't, yet they all have something that the others don't. I'm sure this is due in part to the diversity of their customer base. I like to focus on the side items. We have two different lines of paints and three different lines of brushes for our miniatures gamers. We also have a large selection of sleeves and deck boxes for our card gamers. And we have a reasonably large selection of dice for our role players. Obviously for some stores this wouldn't work, but for us it's been great.
Q: What makes your store better than a lot of other stores?
A: Man. How can I pat myself on he back here without sounding egotistical? I'm not sure I can. But, truth be told, many people brag about our store, but it's nothing amazing. I personally think our store has a long way to go before it is the way I want it. We do have a highly knowledgeable staff. We also have nearly half of our store dedicated to game space. This includes four private rooms for role playing and wargaming. We also do special orders at no special charge (not sure if that's anything special though).
Q: How much of your profits come from collectible card games?
A: It fluctuates anywhere between 20% and 40%. It just depends on the new releases or special events held in a given month. Our product lines are pretty diverse in our store, so we don't rely too heavily on one type of product. We also carry the top games in each category, so it keeps people coming through the door.
Q: You mentioned making profits from other sources. What are they?
A: Well I do lots of writing as I'm sure you can tell. In addition to Pojo.com, I've write stuff for other websites. I also write for Scrye Magazine and Undefeated Magazine. In addition to that, I do shows and conventions to bring in extra cash. I stay pretty busy honestly. As time goes by and the store starts running ever more smoothly, I can actually dedicate less time and enjoy the results of my efforts a little more.
Q: You don't have a website. What's up with that?
A: Yeah, that's just downright bad. I actually have the rights to www.thegamecloset.com , but for some reason, we haven't been able to get a plan together as to how we want to handle the website. Regardless, everyone should have one up. I'm trying to get one up within the month to just have our monthly event schedule posted if nothing else.
Q: How do you get major events into your store?
A: This could be a whole article onto itself. Honestly, it can be difficult. Some stores or organizers that are already established will have priority when it comes to major events. So it is usually in your best efforts to work with them or do some cross promotion. If nothing else, you at least get your name out there even if you don't get the event. Fortunately, I was friends with a lot of people in the gaming business before I got my store, so it wasn't as difficult for me. Let that be a lesson o you though. Don't burn your bridges...ever. You never know when you might need help or a favor, or when a good opportunity will come up.
Q: How long have you owned your store?
A: Yay, and easy question! I've had my store for about four and a half years. Five year anniversary is in October of this year.
Q: Are you allowed to compete in tournaments in your store?
A: This all depends on what type of events they are. If they are events that I am the tournament organizer or judge, then usually I don't play. In Magic events, this is completely against the DCI rules, so I am never allowed to under those circumstances. Many time, I don't collect a price when I play. I play mainly to keep the players content, because many of them just want to play me or see me compete, and to keep my gaming skills up so I'm not completely out of touch with the games. Most players don't mind and find it entertaining.
Q: Do you get invites to large events?
A: Yes, but it is REALLY difficult when you have a store. The problem is that the number of events you play in becomes extremely limited. In some cases, you aren't allowed to play. Other times, you can't travel to large tournaments because you have a business to run. This just means that I have to make the most of events that I do play in and/or keep pushing my rating up slowly whenever the chance arises.
Q: Do you just have access to every card and get all the product you want?
A: I wish that were so. Personally, I decided int he beginning to treat my collection and the stores collection as completely separate entities. I know that other stores don't really care so much, but for me, it helps to clearly sperate what I'm doing and getting as opposed to what my store is doing and getting. I trade in cards for store credit just like everyone else. I also think that by doing this, it keeps me a little more in touch with my customers. I can see their perspective on things a bit better this way. As fore opening product. Well, if I just opened a bunch for myself, what would I sell to make a profit?
Q: How can you ever think that sitting around and playing games all day is tough?
A: I knew someone would ask that question. The truth is, I play about 60% less now than I would like to. At best I get to play in maybe a draft or two and one constructed tournament for something every week. And that's on a good week. Obviously, I play some games when I demo them to customers, but I don't truly count those. But to be honest, I've already made plans to increase my gaming time at the store through the rest of the year. It always helps sales. The problem is, that unless it's after hours, it's hard to fit the time in. There is so much to do at the store. You have to pay bills, clean up, check inventory, organize cards, rearrange shelves, place orders....all this and more has to be done while you're dealing with customers all day. There isn't as much time for gaming as one would think.
Well, I hope that gives you readers out there a bit more insight as to what goes on with a game store. I just want to make sure that game store owners get the proper recognition. It's not as easy as it seems. If it were, more people would be doing and you also wouldn't be seeing so many stores closing down each year.
But I still have some weekly business to get to. Let's start with the Good Play of the Week.
This one is from Stefan, who gets the honor of being the first person to appear as a good and/or bad play twice:
My aggro red vs. a blue/white weenie control. My opponent has found out my weakness and was smacking me upside the head with flying and unblockable creatures. Being turn 15 or so, I have amassed plenty of lands but all my creatures are landbound. I draw, and it is an arc-slogger. Well, I figure, since I'm done for next turn, I might as well throw this guy down. Then, I proceed to smack down my opponent's merciful angel and covert operative with the slogger's effect. Now, I have about three cards left in my library, 6 life, and my opponent was at a nice, round 10. Next turn, she can't do anything and passes. I manage to draw a dragon mage and slap him down. My arc-slogger attacks. She draws, unable to do anything except slap down a land. Two cards left in my deck, so I draw, leaving me with one. To finish the game, I had my arc-slogger attack, followed by my dragon mage. How I cherish that slogger. :)
I love seeing games that come down to the last few cards. I always find it silly when people complain about those types of games. Isn't that what you want? A good close game. They try to say it is luck that they pulled the card and the like, but there is one self evident truth.
You can't draw it if it's not in there. So credit their deckbuilding or something.
I don't have a card of the week pick here. I think with he prerelease coming up and the quality of the cards in Fifth Dawn all being crazy, I would say the whole set is great. So go to your nearest prerelease and enjoy yourself this weekend.
I personally will be at the Dallas prerelease. The event is at:
215 E Airport Freeway (Highway 183)
Hotel # 972-607-2522
As usual, I will sign cards if people like, but I'll only sign creatures. If nothing else, stop by and say hello. It's always neat when you get a chance to hear from the readers in person.
My game tip of the week is a simple one this week. Bring as many people into your favorite games as you can this summer. There will be plenty of time. There are lots of good releases. I'm sure if you talk to your local store, they will even help schedule some special events for you. Take advantage of the moment. We will all be better off because of it.
And on that note, I'm out.
Until next time,
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