-- By Ghoul
I recently watched the Dice Tower's top 10 essential things for a good gaming store. You can watch the same video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lBng6tff_8
The panel, consisting of Tom Vasal, Zee Garcia and Sam Healey, discuss the essential components in a successful gaming store. Many of their personal choices were shared by the other two. I compiled their combined thoughts and listed them below. I will discuss the value of each of these and illustrate how Knight Watch Games plans on capitalizing on them.
1. Good Lighting. All three panelist agreed that having good lighting allows for customers to enjoy their games. The problems of glare and sickly yellow lighting was noted as huge turn-offs. The dreaded flickering light was also stated as a immediate shop fail. Not only does good lighting allow for game play, it sets a tone in the store of openness. The products on the shelves can be displayed and the customers can be seen.
Knight Watch Games plans to have a mixture of ambient lighting and spot lighting. The ambient light will come from fixtures disguised as torches throwing light towards the ceiling and off the walls. We wanted the light to simulate the warm glow from flames, but we worry that customers wont like the more subdued lighting. Florescent overhead lighting doesn't seem to enhance the ambiance we are aiming for. To counteract the soft warm light of the torches in the store, the tables will have multiple chandeliers hanging over them. While it will look like the chandelier is just holding candles, within the ring of candles there will be a high-powered spot lamp aimed down at the table, which will illuminate the play area, but leave the rest of the area subdued.
2. Comfortable Chairs. Again, all three panelists agrees that the chairs in a store either promote the gaming experience or they severely detract from it. The chairs need to be sturdy and accept a wide-range of body types. Gamers will be sitting in the chairs for hours so they must be comfortable enough.
Knight Watch Games plans on having at least three types of seating available, depending on which table the customer is sitting. At the "lower-caste" tables, there will be benches that can accommodate three players at a time. The benches will have cushions.
The "higher-caste" tables will have individual stools that are sturdy, cushioned and large enough for a single customer.
Lastly, at the "Nobles" table there will be chairs that are wide enough for anyone, strong but regal. The chairs will have a high back and a cushioned seat.
3. "Modernization" Tom Vasal heavily recommends that a store be "modernized" By this he means that a store should have a contemporary cash register, inventory system and effective AC/Heater.
KWG is planning on using a tablet to facilitate the Point of Sale system. It will automatically update the inventory and well as produce a paper receit for customer records. We will also be using the online store to help facilitate sales. Customers will be able to order an item online and pick it up at the shop with no problem. We are also using an online registration system to allow players to register for tournaments ahead of time.
4. Snacks. It is agreed that gamers love eating while playing games. While Cheetos and Mt Dew seem to be the quintessential snack, the gaming community (and society at large) is veering towards healthier alternatives.
KWG is going to provides things to eat through a company called "Healthy Vending". They offer tasty alternative to the typical chips and candy. Brenda is a big proponent of eating healthy and wants to pass this onto our customers. It is an additional benefit that the healthy foods will have less grease to get onto the games.
5. Demos According to the Dice Tower, customers want to see and handle games before they buy them. It is expected that stores have games that can be play-tested before the commitment of buying. Not only do customers want to see the contents of the game box, they want to see the game mechanics in action, so store owners need to be prepared to demo games to potential customers.
Knight Watch Games already has over $2000 worth of games slotted for open play at the store. These include Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures, Imperial Assault, Armada, Magic:TG, Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder. We plan to add many more games as time passes.
6. Distinct/professional employee appearance. It has been stated that customers want to know who is a worker in the store and who is a customer. When customers have questions, need assistance, or want to talk with an employee, they should not have to guess who that actually is. It seems some stores have their employees mix in with the players and fail to perform the customer service role.
Both Brenda and myself have a clear understanding of what it means to be store owners. It does NOT mean that we get to play more games and hang out with friends. We know it means that we are offering a service to customers and need to be available to assist those customers at any time. To make that easier, Brenda and I will be wearing either our Knight Watch Games store t-shirts or an ensemble that could only be called a costume. Both of us are going to go out of our way to greet customers and say farewell when they leave. We see Knight Watch Games as our home and we are your host.
7. Well-stocked product. One of the major benefits of shopping at a brick-and-mortar store is the immediate gratification of getting the product right when you pay for it. Its rather disappointing to go shopping for something in a game store only to be told that it is not in stock.
If a customer asks for a game we do not have in stock, we will make every effort to get a copy for you right away.
8. Well-behaved customers. Hardly anyone can honestly say that they enjoy being in a gaming store that has loud, obnoxious, and rude players. Gaming is an activity that is supposed to be fun. Shopping is supposed to be fun.
KWG has a code of conduct that we will enforce within our walls. We want Knight Watch Games to be an accepting, friendly and fun place to hang out. We will correct any behaviors we deem getting in the way of that goal. Of course, we will do it privately and with due respect, but we will not tolerate customers that don't follow the rules.
9. Plenty of space to play. The store should have plenty room for anyone to play that doesn't impede a customer's shopping. The gaming area should allow players to comfortably set up the game and its accessories without encroching on other player's space. Gamers tend to be on the larger side and they shouldn't feel like a sardine when playing at a store.
Knight Watch Games is looking to lease at least 1800 sq feet, with a majority of that being play area. Long wooden play tables will easily seat 30 players. Special game board inserts will be designed to augment the table to allow for larger play areas for games like X-Wing, D&D, or Warhammer. The benches and chairs are designed for comfort, space, and function. We want people to be comfortable.
10. Clean Store. This is the most emphasized component of a successful gaming shop. Customers want the store to be uncluttered and clean. The checkout counter should be free from product and allow customers to put their merchandise on it. Even more important, the bathrooms should be cleaned. Often.
KWG vows to keep the store as clean as possible. Having two dogs in the store will be a challenge with the dog hair, but we will minimize this as best we can. The bathroom will be clean and clutter free. After all, this is our home, and we want it to be yours too. We'll make sure it is fit for guests.
What other elements of a game store are essential? If you can think of something, let us know and we tell you what plans Knight Watch Games has in that regard.
We look forward to serving you.