Independent Video Game Stores Are Here to Stay

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Later, on the behest of his spouse—who was involved with the mountain of used video games devouring their storage—Josh transitioned to a storefront in Portland. From there, Josh discovered his area of interest in retro gaming, attracting nostalgia-hungry players hoping to accumulate intensive libraries of previous titles. Over the previous few years, promoting retro video games has grow to be an especially profitable endeavor and unopened video games from the early 1990s like Super Mario World 3 can promote for tens of hundreds of {dollars}, typically even reaching six figures. While these kinds of high-end retro gross sales are essential for retailers like Side Quest Games, on a regular basis repairs and lower-end retro recreation gross sales are their bread and butter, maintaining Josh’s enterprise safer from huge field competitors.

Likewise, Josh claims that he has discovered a considerably symbiotic relationship with shops like GameCease. Whereas Side Quest Game Store may not have too many more recent titles, the shop’s console restore companies and versatile trade-in insurance policies have supplied Josh some cushioning from competitors at huge field retailers. This has led to moments of casual collaboration between Josh’s retailer and employees at native GameStops, who typically refer clients to Side Quest Games.

David Kaelin of Game Over Video Games in Austin, Texas has additionally been ready to discover a area of interest for himself amidst the rise of on-line gross sales. David began his enterprise in 2005, lengthy earlier than the times of straightforward Amazon buys and digital downloads. Since then, his small retailer has expanded to over a dozen places all through Texas, constructing off a widespread thirst for retro video games.

Yet for David, the key to his enterprise’ survival is the necessity for social interplay amongst players. Whereas Amazon and main retailers may supply straightforward on-line purchases, David is satisfied that his retailer has flourished by prioritizing the in-person expertise.

“For us, our relationships with customers doesn’t just end at them buying a game,” David says, “We want to start a conversation with folks about games and create a place to go hang out. Gamers, just like everyone else, need social interactions too.”

Community has additionally been important to Jonathan Sakura’s enterprise over the previous few years. Before opening up a retailer known as “Gamers Anonymous” in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jonathan had spent over a decade remodeling his gaming pastime right into a lifetime profession. Then, in 2007, he purchased Gamers Anonymous, an already established store in Albuquerque, so as to chase an previous dream of constructing his personal retailer.

Over time, Jonathan constructed a enterprise that catered to the wants of parents in search of retro video games and console repairs—however, most significantly, his enterprise flourished by way of massive neighborhood occasions like midnight releases and in-store tournaments. Longing for the times of LAN events, the place players introduced their computer systems collectively in basements and tight residences to play multiplayer video games in a shared area, Jonathan desires to create environments the place gaming appears like a visceral and interpersonal expertise.

“The social element of gaming has gotten far more important to me,” Jonathan says. “At our peak we were having midnight releases, conventions, and massive trade-ins that had hundreds of people lined up outside our store.”

These occasions supplied a vital increase for Jonathan’s enterprise, and led him to imagine that he had discovered a long-term secret for increasing his enterprise and constructing neighborhood alongside the way in which.

“In those first years, despite all the trials and hardships, the marketing errors, we learned so much,” Jonathan explains. “So then, you never realize that despite all of that, not one of those will teach you what to do during a global pandemic.”

In late 2019, enterprise had been so good for Jonathan that he determined to broaden the community-orientated facet of his retailer by opening a “video game cafe” subsequent to his store. In truth, in 2019 GameCease devised a really related plan to salvage its faltering shops; the important thing distinction right here being that Jonathan’s retailer was already doing fairly nicely. In February 2020, Jonathan signed his lease for the cafe subsequent door, however only one month later, Covid-19 introduced his plans crashing down.

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