Show Some Love

Posted on Oct 2nd 2015 at 08:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Blog Quest, Staff Members, Employees, Hiring, Game Store, Video Games

We've all heard that old chestnut at one point or another during our lives: "It takes a village to raise a Game Store". I've learned firsthand how true that is over the last couple years though.....

When I was originally envisioning my store I thought it would be very niche and it would just be me hanging out playing NES for an hour between each customer. Much to my delight it blew up right from the get go, which meant I needed a bit more help. Early on, I used my family and some close friends to help me out, but it became clear fairly early on that I'd need some more steady help.

Years prior to this store in my youth I was the assistant manager of a Roger's Video. Some of my duties there included hiring, employee reviews, disiplining staff and terminating employment. Turns out that experience would come in very handy hear. Especially after some hiring "mistakes" back then, I wanted to learn from my errors and make sure I was staffing my store with people I was proud to call co-workers and not just people looking for a paycheque (that's how we spell it up here!!).

Early on, I was approached by a few places for work experience placements and just casual people dropping off resumes. I always try to take a chance when someone drops off a resume to speak with the person a bit and get a feel for them. I get extremely few resumes that I would ever consider based on these interactions. For example, just a few weeks ago I was in our back gaming area taking a break and playing some games with my son when someone called for me by name. I paused the game and went to see what they wanted assuming it was a customer request. I was approached by a young man dressed in a sleeveless tank top, obviously unwashed, in ripped shorts, sandals, and a ball cap. He started telling me how much he loved games and that I should hire him. He seemed so confident that I would be impressed, that he offered to start working the very next day. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, explained to him what I look for in our staff, and asked him if he would like to come back in a day or two cleaned up a bit and with a resume. I let out a bit of a chuckle when he responded with, "Not really." This was a humorous interaction for me, but unfortunately not an isolated experience.

My mother works as a school teacher in my city and currently works for a specialized program called the Alternate Schooling Program. It's a program for kids that is basically their last chance to complete their Grade 12 Education. She reached out to me offering one of her kids as a work experience placement. Work experience placements are fantastic for me, since I get to train and try out the staff (usually for 80 hours) and then make a decision about them. I then put some thoughts down about them on paper for the school or program they are a part of. The kid we took in was shy at first and wasn't a game fanatic,; he was simply a normal, young guy that enjoyed occasionally playing games and loved art. Ideally, I want people I'm comfortable leaving at the store to work, so that I can take time off and feel comfortable that it will be in good hands. This kid was obviously a nice person and eager to please, so we worked hard during those two weeks to see if we could get him out of his shell and get him to the level we needed for the store. After a couple days of monotonous work around the shop, I asked him if he'd be willing to draw up an advertisement on our white board for an event. BLAM! I had a whole new person all of the sudden. He was talking, smiling, and opening up while he doodled and made a fantastic and unique poster for us to hang and advertise. I explained to him that the energy that he just showed was what we needed around the shop more often. He came in the next day and blasted me and everyone else with exactly that for the next couple of days. He also started asking to learn things I didn't intend to teach him, like how to re-pin an NES and solder new Game Boy batteries into games. By the end of the day, he was fully capable of doing both with no supervision.

By the end of the two week placement period, he had gone from putting a Sega Genesis game into the system AFTER turning it on and patiently waiting for it to boot up, to doing system repairs for me. He was eager to please and had definitely impressed me, so I decided to keep him around following the placement to see what else he was capable of. After a very short time, we trusted him with keys, safe/alarm codes, and even a bank card so that I could leave town for a week with my family. He was our first employee and is still with us today, a year and a half later.

As mentioned in previous blogs, I also have a second job with a company called Aimhi. They support people in my community with disabilities in a large variety of ways. One of these programs is work experience placements. So when I was approached to try one of these placements, I thought it was definitely worth a shot. They placed us with a young lady who they said that she "dreamed of working the till for us". I thought that would be great and if it worked out, it would free me up a bit to tidy up the store, alphabetize, price, etc. When I first met her, she was all smiles and just brought an all around "aura" of positivity with her. That was a good start. However, when we started putting her behind the cash register, that positivity would just disappear as she would phase out and even occasionally need to be snapped back to reality to help a customer out as she appeared to be daydreaming. After a couple days of this behavior, I asked her to come in early before we opened so that I could talk to her a bit. Luckily, she arrived before her staff member did so we could talk without her "planner" keeping a tab on her answers to my questions. It turned out that she had no interest in working the cash register and that she was just saying what she thought they/I wanted to hear. She actually loves to organize and clean! Those are things I was hoping to have time to do with her working the till, so we tried swapping for the day. As a result, that positive person that I initially met was back in full force. Not only would she do a great job at what I asked her to do, but she took pride in her work and would look for things around the store to do. As soon as she finished wiping down arcades and re-organizing game shelves, she would come to me asking if she could fix our dilapidated book area or remind me that I hadn't wiped down any of the glass shelves in weeks and they were in dire need of it. Since then, I've never seen her without a smile and she is always eager to accept any job we throw at her around the store. We hired her shortly after her placement ended and she comes down to the store once a week to help us keep the place looking tidy and professional. Plus, if a customer comes in asking about Minecraft or Sniper Elite she is our go to resource.

With the imminent move to our current location on the horizon, I felt like we needed another full time staff member so that I could step back a bit and just focus on having one and a half jobs for a while instead of two full time positions. A few friends of mine that I've played Magic and video games with for a couple years worked just down the block from the store and often stopped by to visit on their way home after work. One of their co-workers was a talented artist and we commissioned him to paint our windows on a few occasions. He was extremely positive and knowledgeable about games and was also big into Magic and board games, which were areas we were expanding into. After speaking with him on and off for several weeks as he started hanging out on his way home from work, it became obvious I needed this guy working for me. So one day when he was doing our windows, I pulled him aside and explained what I wanted for the store once we moved and how ideally I'd like to have him working at the store to replace me in a lot of ways. We talked for a bit and he seemed very interested, but needed to speak with his wife before leaving steady employment for a risky move with us. He came back the next day and agreed to it after we hashed out what he needed money-wise to make his bills and what I could afford to pay. It took a few months for us to work out the move, but when we did, he put his notice in at his old job and was ready to go for us on day one. He stopped by a lot prior to then and asked to work and learn a lot of stuff at the old store so that he was fully prepared once we moved. We then put him to work a few hours at a time until he was confident in what he was doing. He has since been a huge asset to the store and customers are already drawn to him as I knew they would be. It's slowly changing from, "Is Kelsy here?" for simple inquiries to, "Where's Magic Mike?" or "I need El Cobra" depending on the customers' game of choice, as he has become our Magic and D&D guru.

These three are the only official employees of Game Quest at this time, but we have half a dozen "un-official" employees that help make the place run as well. Friends that help behind the till, that fix up arcade machines, that build us new shelves, that take home time-consuming console repairs, that come in on their day off from school/work to organize or clean up our back room, that help plan and run events, that travel with us to pick up TVs or display cases, that drive me around in their vehicle to shop for the store, and those that do tons of other things to make the store run smoothly. Some of these people started off simply as customers, but many have become close and trusted friends.

Lastly and most surprisingly, my wife has become a huge boon for the store. After dealing with some pretty heavy stuff for the last year, she ended up leaving her job to focus on getting herself better. Beyond playing the odd game of Settlers of Catan, she has never been much of a gamer and we never expected her to be too involved with things down at Game Quest other than running the odd errand when I run out of time. It turns out that she has been thriving at the store over the last few months since we moved locations. She often spends a better part of the day there with me stocking, organizing, cleaning, and paying bills.  Recently, she ran our ladies night events and has even been spotted painting miniatures and building Magic decks!!

The store would be a pale shadow of itself without these people involved in it and I'm very grateful to each and every one of them for the success they are helping us turn it into.

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Your hiring process is incredible. You're sure to keep those employees for quite some time as a result. Probably need to fire that Kelsy guy though.
@singlebanana: No... not Frasier!
Reading this, makes we wish, I wasn't so retail challenged.
That is exactly why Crabby won't hire me. lol
Can I move to Canadia and work for you?
@Izret101:if you import a few Mashed Potato Pizzas for me I'm sure we could arrange something Wink
My passport expires this year.
Lets make this happen.

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