I Opened My Own Video Game Store...

Hello there world! Welcome to my dinky little video game shop! Even with the way that the industry is changing, with digital and the whatnot coming to the fore, I for some godforsaken reason saw this as a fun (bad) opportunity and jumped right on in.

A little background, I've been playing video games for pretty much my whole life. It all started on the Nintendo Entertainment System and has included a system from every generation since then: SNES, Playstation, N64, Gamecube, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Game Boy Pocket, colour, Advance, DS, PSP, Dreamcast and Genesis. I was the kid sitting in the magazine aisle of the supermarket reading the latest EGM, Nintendo Power and the old CheatCode books as well. The demo stations at Sears and Walmart were my second home going out.

One of my earliest and best experiences with video games stores though wasn't Babbage's or EB but rather a little video game shop at the local flea market. The closest EB or Babbage's was at least 30 minutes away, and for my mother to drive that far for just my brother and I to see some games wasn't happening. But drive to the flea market on the weekends and let us wander around and visit a "proper" game store was all we needed.

This shop though, was run by a woman named Ruth, or as everyone there knew her, Granny. She was one of the coolest people ever and she LOVED games, especially the Final Fantasy series. She had 1-9 complete, and I mean the original Japanese release 1-9. I found out about importing games and the proper sequence of that series from her and countless other trivia as well.

Granny ended up having to sell that store in order to take care of her ailing husband, and at that point it swapped hands at least three more times before the last owner shut it down for good last year. All that I have of that shop is my memories and this one picture I took of this awesome sign she had commissioned years ago.

At this point, I come back into play. At this point in my life I had close to five years Gamestop (shudder) retail and management experience, and a bit of side experience with a local game store that I helped out with as well. For some reason after the game store in the flea market closed, my parents egged on the idea about me opening my own shop there. Why? I don't know. All I know is they egged it on to the point where it started to sound like a good idea.

I had always said at Gamestop that I would only run a store if it was MY own store, not one I was in charge of in a managerial position under some corporation. I'd seen too many good people try to run the store as their own and then corporate tug the choke collar and whip them back into place. I was done with that red tape, but I had also seen through the local business owner how hard it could be to try to compete with big box retailers and the ever looming digital landscape, not to mention being a business owner. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't I suppose.

And so, against all common sense, I did it anyway. I went to go buy some arcade machines, but the seller had sold them the night before and failed to contact me in the morning. So close to two hours into this drive, I said "Shaq-fu it" and went and bought some showcases instead. The space next to my father's tire shop in the flea market opened up, and he snagged it for me. Awesome, now I got a good spot next to an established business. I went to the IRS building and filled out my form for my reseller licence, and sat for the longest time staring at the Business Name line.

I didn't have one.

I spent weeks in my head trying my damndest to come up with something that was simple and recognisable. I threw name after name to the few friends I had told, but none of them quite fit. And even still, with this form right in my face, with this simple question right there, I still didn't have one.

'You don't need the name. As long as we have the rest of the information you'll be fine.' said the nice lady behind the glass when I asked her about it. Good, because this wasn't going to be real to me until I had a name.

Slowly, piece by piece, the rest of this little puzzle started to come together. The showcases came in, all shiny and pretty and matching. The walls got a nice white colour instead of the pressed wood that was on display. I used a whole bunch of standees, old marketing, and posters I had accrued throughout my Gamestop tour to help give the place some colour with the help of one of my best friends. My first order of games came in. The shop floor got a paint job as well. Finally I put the games in the showcases and was ready to go.

Well, almost. I still needed a name.

I don't know exactly when I settled on the name, but for me it just clicked. It was in front of me the entire time: Salvador's Video Games.

Having a name to attach to a business meant something to me. Both of my parent's own shops had their names attached and so did Granny all those years ago. It gives it more of a personal feeling to it, especially for a local business. It's not my real name, but it's personal enough to where it might as well be.

So, with everything finally in place, on April 27, amidst a really wet and dreary day at the flea market, I opened my doors hoping to the gaming gods that someone, anyone, would come in and buy SOMETHING.

They did.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm no competition to Gamestop right now, even pawn shops scoff at me. It's been only a month, but people keep coming in looking for stuff and asking about what I have planned. I've already have repeat customers asking me to track down games for them. I actually am running low enough on stock where I need to go track some more stuff down. People are shocked by my prices (I offer to charge them more since it's what they are used to, but they don't bite). I most definitely need to get some more colour and background noise going in there as well. It's exciting and frightening stuff!

I may never get to the point where I rival Gamestop, but if at some point some kid is talking about how much he loves Salvador's as much as I loved and talked about Granny's, then I would consider it a success in my book.

Now if you excuse me, I have to go make an order for MY video game store.


    Good on you, You may never be as big as gamestop but there will be a kid or two who walk into your store and the love of video games will be sparked in them. A lifetime of fun and digital adventure is something that was a big part of my childhood and has stuck with me well into adulthood, I still remember my first game store (a small one in Mackay nth Qld) and my first purchase (Megaman on NES)
    I hope you do have success in your business and look forward to a follow up story proving that there is still a place in the world for the local game store.

      That wouldn't have happened to be Hong Kong Importers would it?

      I'm from Mackay too, but moved away still too young to really remember it.

    I actually expected a really bad ending to all this but that's good to hear...I do hope you survive in this cut-throat business.

    Maybe you should consider having tournaments or even competitions at the store to bring people in. People say that due to the internet everything is now only online, but the community of being there in person will always be better then hearing racial slurs from some 10 year old with uncaring parents.

    Get some old Street Fighter arcades in there for people to crowd around.

    Best of luck. It'll be hard, but success is not impossible by any means. Spread the world, put up posters, get people to talk about your low prices, attract customers and be friendly to those who show, and you'll get business. It will be hard to compete with Gamestop, but if you offer something gamespot does not (genuine passion, courtesy and helpfulness), then you can thrive.

    Great story and I have similar memories of smaller game shops when I was growing up (even video shops). I loved going in and being able to play SNES or NES for free (or like $2 for 30 mins).

    If you could pick up a couple MAME cabinets that would be awesome just to get people in the shops and having fun... once you've paid for the cabs the ongoing costs are just power... I'd like to think that they'd eventually pay for themselves :)

    Good Luck my friend !!!

    Great story, I know what its like to jump in the deep end of a new business with nothing but passion and I wish you luck :D

    Location would be kool maybe some of us could help support your business.

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