How to Start a Retail Game Store

by Melinda Gaines; Updated September 26, 2017
Man playing a video game

Video games are popular with people of all ages, and there are a wide variety of game genres and platforms for consumers to choose from. Although it is a lucrative industry, online game retailers and national chain stores that offer lower prices have made it more difficult for smaller, independent stores to succeed. Even so, it is not impossible to start your own video game store. The most successful game stores are those that differentiate themselves from their competition and demonstrate to their customers that they have in-depth knowledge about the games they sell.

Step 1

Buy a video game franchise from a company such as Play N Trade. The advantage is that you will receive marketing support, wholesale suppliers, a pre-planned store design, and have a company underneath an established brand name. The drawbacks are that you will lose a bit of control over how your store operates and looks, you will have to pay monthly fees to the parent company, and you will need a considerable amount of start-up money (typically over $150,000).

If you dream of starting a game store with a unique concept, a franchise is not your best option - you should start an independent game store.

Step 2

Determine your niche and how you will make your game store unique. You will be competing with larger chain stores and low-priced supermarkets, so you will need a way to draw in customers and keep them coming back. For example, you may want to offer trade-ins, only sell used video games, sell classic games and systems, or have a game store and lounge, where customers can buy and trade games, and play new titles and hang out. You could even offer a small cafe and free Wi-Fi. The more unique your concept, the better your chances of success.

Another area where you can be different than your competitors is knowledge and customer service. Larger chain stores and supermarkets don't always employ gamers and game experts, and you will have an advantage if you can offer this to your customers.

Step 3

Purchase games wholesale from a company such as TechLiquidators, Vast Video Games, or Sonic Games to stock your store. You can also try bargain hunting - search garage sales, purchase inventory through online auctions and classified ads, or buy games from retailers that are closing.

Step 4

Hire an accountant or at the very least consult with one so that you can determine your tax liability and the best structure for your business.

Step 5

Obtain a DBA (assumed name certificate), incorporate your business to protect your personal assets (or start out as a sole proprietor), get a resale permit or tax identification number from your state, and an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS.

Step 6

Lease a space for your game store - this will cost you between $600 and $1,800 per month, depending on your location and the size of your store. You can start out with as little as 500 square feet of retail space, but you should have a plan for what you will do once your business grows.

Step 7

Buy store fixtures, shelving, pricing guns and stickers, merchandise bags, shopping baskets, and store signage from a supplier such as Display Warehouse, S&L Store Fixture, or Capital Store Fixtures.

Step 8

Market your game store by purchasing targeted advertisements, gaining publicity by emphasizing your store's unique concept or angle, holding gaming competitions, setting up a website or blog, or giving out fliers and coupons to local, complimentary businesses (such as novelty and book stores) to gain new customers.

About the Author

Melinda Gaines has been a freelance writer since 2006, with work appearing online for YellowPages and other websites. Her areas of expertise include business, beauty, fashion and sports. Gaines attended the University of Houston where she earned a Bachelor of Science in sport administration.

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