Games On - A new kind of game store

Fifteen years ago? Probably isn’t there anymore (telus phone book has no results found). Also, despite what my location field says, I don’t actually live in Vancouver. Brodway is way too far away to bother.

I should’ve been clearer that I was just reminiscing. I don’t think Software Alley made it to the new millennium, but it was nice while it lasted. The place was a clean, airy, split-level, with nice furniture, and a couple of very nice systems set up for demonstration purposes. At the time, this meant a 486 with a 19" CRT, big non-gaming speakers, and a Roland MT-32 or Gravis Ultrasound to drive them. And in the middle of the store on one crisp spring day in '93, there stood a stack of Strike Commanders as tall as a short man! Now I’m REALLY reminiscing…

To tie it all back to the first post, even as a high school student I could appreciate a games store that didn’t look like a converted storage facility or smell like a used bookstore. Unfortunately, a limited budget meant that I wasn’t willing to eat the $5-10 price difference between it and the retail chain store two blocks over.

That store looks fantastic. Every time I go in a Gamestop around here I gripe about the horrible layout and cramped aisles. A store like that would be fantastic.

His premium differentiator should be an add-in cd with the best mods, tested and compatibilified by these enthusiasts he claims will work there.

A store where they don’t hate their clientel? That can’t possibly succeed.


Why would he need to do that? In fact, to do so would be an invitation to not survive. His monthly overhead has to be fairly inexpensive compared to GS/EB since he and his wife are probably the only two employees. His stock is the same as everywhere, and in time, if the people come, he will make money to offset the higher startup costs.

That’s… actually a really good idea.

If people are going to be picking up games six months after release, of course.

I swear every time I abandon a game store, it’s because of shitty service and a claustrophobic atmosphere. I hope to see one out here some day.

Have lots of family in SD, next time I visit I’ll stop by!

Also, I’d suspect he has a good chance of building up customer loyalty, getting long-term repeat business from the types of people who buy a lot of games every year (and sometimes every month). You don’t get the “I’m wandering around the mall and want to pick up a copy of Madden” crowd, but Best Buy and the like will always be able to undercut you there.

Plus with a “specialty” store you can carry the stuff that’s not super obscure, but could take a while to find in a bigger store because it doesn’t have a huge audience on opening day, stuff like Jeanne d’Arc.

There’s a comic book store in San Francisco called Isotope that seems to have a similar model. Their selection isn’t the best, actually – if anything’s older than a couple of months, they’ll probably have to order it for you. But the staff is very friendly, and the place just feels cool to be in, so you’re encouraged to go back. Now, I always check there first for everything, and then look around for the stuff I couldn’t find. Never underestimate the buying power of overprivileged manchildren!

I’m really like the design aesthetics of the place. I’ll definitely check it out this weekend when I’m down in San Diego visiting my girlfriend.

I hope that he’s successful. It would be nice to know that an independent game retailer can succeed in the US. Right now the common wisdom is that, without the buying clout of an EBGames, you can’t survive on the razor-thin margins on video games. All you have to do is look at how hard the chains are pushing their used games sales to make the big dollars to see the problem.

Seriously, though. I want this to succeed and I want somebody to put one near me.

Does he have a website?

Hmm, 4 miles away from me, will have to check it out.

I’ve got some Christmas presents to pick up for my brothers so I’ll drop by this weekend and see what’s what. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Yeah, I wasn’t sure how that comment made any sense, either. Even if the store did sell PC games, that’s a tiny sliver of the inventory. What do you give away with the handheld and console games?

Went over there tonight, spent a while chatting with the owner.

I didn’t realize what a “urban chic” part of the town it was in. Nice to have a store in the middle of other places I’d like to go versus optometrists and shoe stores. Does mean that parking is a bit of a hassle.

Having such a wide open store layout does wonders for browsing. It makes finding all titles easier, instead of having several endcapped titles in your face, and the inevitable hunt for obscure ones. The Apple store comparison is apt, people want to come into the store, even if not interested in videogames.

Given the short distance between the store and myself, I’ll probably start shopping there. While there are several gamestops closer, it’s a ten minute difference, and the atmosphere is worth it.

Oh, could do with some carpet under the ‘lounge’ part of the shop - differentiate it from the rest and show a sort-of “idealized gaming home”… that’s a cool and fun idea :)

Ah. Missed the console-only slant.