Coming up in a future episode of the Manaverse Podcast I talk with Pascal Espinosa. He’s the owner of Metal Galaxy in Calgary, Alberta. Pascal has a unique approach to the business and has managed to carve out a profitable niche in the shadow of two giants in the industry, the Sentry Box and Phoenix Comics NW. Today’s article features Pascal thoughts on what it takes from a character perspective to make a great game store entrepreneur. It takes a special mix of skills to run a LGS effectively but I’ll let him take it from here.
Ask the average entrepreneur how it feels to own his piece of the Gross National Product pie and he will undoubtedly respond with pride and colourful anecdotes. Ask the average gaming store owner the same question and you will often get answers that are as varied as they are unusual. That is because gaming in general and gaming store owners in particular are a peculiar breed.
Some decided to open a gaming store because gaming is a passion and a huge part of their lives. Some have opened stores because they identified a need in their local marketplace that was not being filled, be it demand for gaming products or simply a need for a new environment to play in. Some simply had big enough collections that they felt a store was a natural step.
The gaming business is really fun for obvious reasons: it involves games, pop culture characters and fantasy icons and the ability to run a business, be a grown-up and still maintain the kid inside of you intact. Whatever the reason for opening a gaming store, business fundamentals remain the same: a properly run business is likely to succeed if the business plan is sound and the numbers make sense. A business run like your own gaming collection or a casual past time does not stand much of a chance.
In my 12 years in this industry and in my travels, I have met store owners with very different ways to look at managing daily operations in their store. Because the typical gaming store is such a basic retail premise, the owner’s personality and demeanour are usually reflected in the personality of the store. So, does that mean you need to get a personality test before you decide whether or not you should open a store? No. What it means to me is that you need to assess your strengths and weaknesses honestly (ask your friends, your gaming group, your parents if need be) and make sure you either have staff (sometimes a luxury when first opening a store), volunteers or professionals (accountants, marketing specialists) that can fill the gaps that could hinder you when running your dream business.
Most importantly, make sure you are confident that you are deeply passionate about people. No, that does not mean passionate about hanging around people who game just like your buddies every Thursday evening when you guys get together for a game, but rather able to handle different personalities, shopping styles, objections, questions about new games, opinions about a specific card or game and so on.
You need to be a truly social person if you hope to run a welcoming and successful gaming store.
We all know of a local gaming store that has been in business for years while providing sub-par service and a very low welcome factor. But the truth is that they are one good gaming store away from losing a lot of business quickly. In short: ensure that your personality, passion and dedication to this great business are genuine and feature heavily in your business plan.
What do you think the most important trait a game store owner needs to have to be successful? Leave a comment down below and let us know what you think.