Wednesday, January 7, 2015

8 Points if You Want to Open a Game Store

If you really want to open here are some things you ought to know and do:

1)      You will probably fail. Failure rates for new businesses after 5 years, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, run anywhere from 50 to 90%. That means there’s a pretty good likelihood you won’t make it.

2)      Plan on giving up most of your life outside the store. Most game store owners work in, or on, their business between 55 to 80 hours a week. That gaming you were planning to do with your friends? It’s not included in those hours.

3)      Have capital to invest you can afford to lose (See #1). Due to the high failure rate, few banks will offer a business loan on this type of operation. You can get a loan but it will likely be a personal loan, meaning it is guaranteed with your other assets.

4)      Make a business plan (Failing to plan is planning to fail—Alan Lakein, among others). You can find samples from the Small Business Administration or help from the Service Corps of Retired Executives  (SCORE). Both are great sources of information on starting a business.

5)      Find a copy of Dave Wallace’s A Specialty Retailer's Handbook: Games and Comics. Wallace owns the Fantasy Shop chain of comic and game stores in St. Louis and is responsible for helping more store owners become successful than any other person I know.

6)      Join the Game Store Resource Forum on Delphi ( It is the only place of which I know which welcomes potential game store owners and has a group of experienced store owners willing to answer questions from their years of experience. While not nearly as active as several years ago, a number of experienced store owners still frequent it.

7)      Attend the GAMA Trade Show in Las Vegas next March ( The GTS typically has a track of programming targeted specifically for potential and new store owners. You may attend, even if you do not have an operating store but are excluded from receiving the Retailer Appreciation Package, a perk reserved for operating stores.

8)      Follow Black Diamond Games’ Quest for Fun Blog ( There are a number of game store blogs out there but Gary Ray of Black Diamond Games operates one of the best when it comes to explaining the whys and wherefores of game store operation. Do a site search for posts tagged “Tradecraft” and you won’t be disappointed.

There’s a whole lot more to running a game store than just opening a few boxes of boosters and pricing singles. If you seriously want to open a game store, start preparing now.

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