Show Some Love

Posted on Jul 1st 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Game Store, Game Quest, Collecting, Community, Local, Business

My very first customers lining up on opening day!

At some point during this week, my stint as a game store owner will be coming to an end. It's been right around 5 years since I opened a local store called Game Quest and I'm pretty excited to move on from it at this point in my life.

Back in 2013, I gutted my personal collection and with some thrifty purchases and help from some amazing friends, I opened my first business. It was a little hole in the wall at less than 800 sq. ft. where we bought and sold video games and occasionally hosted video game events. What I thought would be a pretty lowkey opening was in actuality a pretty intense and hectic first week. Instead of the slow trickle of customers I was prepared for, we had quite a large line waiting for us when we first opened the doors.

Within the first couple months, we received a visit from our friendly neighborhood bylaw officer to inform us that we were operating in violation of the local secondhand bylaw. In what became one of the most interesting things I've ever been involved in, I was able to successfully lobby my local government by filling the City Hall council chambers beyond capacity with supporters, present them with a 1000+ signature petition while I made my case. It ended with a permanent change to our secondhand bylaw, but just as importantly, we got a lot of media coverage that meant a big influx of new patrons for us. Even though we were still brand new, our store was bursting at the seams and it felt like we had outgrown our tiny storefront almost immediately.

Right after this, another local businessman was launching my city's first ever Fan Convention. He was looking for businesses to partner with to make it a success. Being as new as we were, we didn't have much of a budget for events like this, so I wasn't considering attending. After some coaxing from the organizers, I was convinced to run a gaming area at the convention. It turned out to be a great thing as we got over 9000 attendees, which is very impressive for a city of around 80,000. With the extra positive publicity from the con, we were seeing new buyers and sellers daily.

Year one at our first local con

One of the best parts of having this business was all the amazing new people I was meeting and in some cases befriending. One of these new friends had some uncles that owned a building they were looking to lease and it was a much bigger space for what we had planned. We jumped from less than 800 sq. ft. all the way up to 2700 sq. ft. This meant we had room to add things that I also loved such as a modest arcade, tabletop games (board games, card games, D&D, Miniatures and a lot more), and most importantly, a dedicated event space. This also meant hiring and training more staff to help out.

Moving day to our new location. Most of our help was from our customers generosity

This was a crazy year for us and for me personally. With the still positive buzz from our bylaw troubles and having been a fixture at Northern FanCon for 3 years running now, I was successfully nominated as one of my city's Top 40 Under 40 by the Chamber of Commerce followed up by winning the Micro Business of the Year award from the Chamber later the same year. 

During all of this time, I'd been working a second full time job as a Residential Care Aid doing graveyard shifts, and had a new addition to my family with the birth of my daughter. It was right around the time of these successes that I was starting to lose my drive to spend my time at Game Quest, as well as a combination of personal and marital struggles. The marital struggles I'll leave purposefully vague (as it's still a work in progress), but this was really the first time in my entire life that I'd felt drained of energy and even depressed. This wasn't what I wanted anymore and I was having an extremely hard time doing it. Luckily, I had some amazing staff that were picking up the massive amount of slack I was leaving for them to deal with. The odd days when I had to cover a sick day or the like would be the longest most exhausting days I've ever known. It would sometimes take more than a week for me to recover my energy or desire to do anything I would normally enjoy. After enough time had passed it was obvious that things were not going to be healthy for me to continue, so I made the decision to try and find a buyer for the store.

This far north, we don't have a lot of things to do or "safe" spots for youth, and especially nerdy youth to spend their time. I've always taken a point of pride that we offer a drug and alcohol free environment for anyone to hang out and meet new people with similar interests. I didn't want to sell to just the highest bidder, so we priced the store quite low so as not to price out potential buyers that would do a great job keeping this kind of thing going, but maybe couldn't scrounge up the money to purchase. I was thrilled with the response and we had several very promising offers to comb through. We ended up settling on someone whom I had met through the store a few years prior, and who owns a fantastic, local computer business. Not only would it be good to add his computer services to Game Quest, but I trust his vision for the store and that he will keep it as a safe and inviting zone for people to spend their time. He is also keeping on and taking care of the unbelievably wonderful staff that have supported me through this whole time. We are in the final stages of the sale currently and within the week, I should be handing the keys over to the new owners. And frankly, that makes me very excited. I've been so absent for over a year now that I cannot wait to see it thrive again under someone who is excited to be there and has ideas to keep building it up like I used to. 

Watching kids triumph at King of Fighters never gets old Smiley

I don't know if I'll ever try and operate a business again. There are definitely things I loved about it, but I've always been very introverted and it was often a struggle to stay focused and interact with so many people for so long. My wife has very mixed feelings on calling our store a success or a failure, but I'm not torn on that at all. It was a success in every way. I've met amazing new friends and opened so many doors that I didn't know were even there for me to find. I've been involved in so many cool projects and in peoples' lives that it's impossible for me to be cynical looking back. I've seen weird loners blossom into social butterflies and deviants become upstanding humans through some minor course corrections. I even got invited to a wedding this August from a couple who had their very first date in my store. How incredible is that!?! I have never been excited to attend a wedding in my life, but this one I cannot wait for. I'm really grateful that I was able to start this business as it's given me a lot of perspective on myself, my family, my community and just people in general. I feel like it's eventually given me a very positive outlook on how I see the world, even though it was pretty dark for me for a long stretch.

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Always nice to hear updates about the store.  Sad to see it go but I am happy you are making the best decision for the business and your self.  Hopefully with the extra time you will have to your self, maybe we will see a rebirth of the Collectorscast?  Tongue
Well Crabby, it has been a long road.  Like many here at RFGen I was so excited when you started this venture, elated when you moved to your new space, and cheered for you when you faced the bylaw issue.  I am a little bummed to hear that you are moving on from your business, but also happy that you are happy doing it.  I guess I can relate to your personal problems a little:  My wife has been in a graduate program for three years now, which takes up (quite literally) every waking moment of her day.

Quite frankly, I never understood how small business owners stay sane.  Of the ones that I frequent, I know of two that will close for vacation (both are food related).  Our local gamestore, who offers game sales (video, RPG, and board) as well as a large space for board and pen and paper RPG gaming, never shuts down.  Every time I go there he is either in the back or chillin with the customers.  No idea how he manages, but your adventures have provided a lot of insight.

Well, thanks for sharing, Crab.  It has been a wild ride and I'm excited to see what happens next.
Glad to see you're doing what's best for you and your family, and that the store will continue on without you under new ownership/management. I know it's been a crazy time, but hopefully this move will be what you need to get back to your family and take care of what you need to. Thank you for sharing, and for your honest reflection on this experience. It really does give some insight into the perils and triumphs of this kind of venture.
I can't imagine the pressure of doing all of things you've done in the same amount of time, and I'm glad you're going to be able to get a little rest. I've always appreciated hearing the stories and talking with you through the adventures, and I hope that the future takes you into happy places.
I enjoyed the first years, when you ran the place, Crabby. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours, and thank you on behalf of myself, and Danielle (my girlfriend and the blonde in the dark blue top, in the store photo).
i'm really happy that you were able to find a buyer and the store will live on, you now have a lasting legacy in Prince George! It would be a shame if you had shut it down without offering it for sale.

I'm also glad that I managed to visit and see it while you were still the owner. Visiting it now would still be cool, but it's not as special as when you know the owner, now it will probably be more like any other game store to me. The new owners will probably do great things with it but I'll always remember it as Crabby's store Smiley
I will miss your updates and insights but I'm glad you are making the right choice and decompressing.  I wish I could have made it to the store while you owned it but who knows, maybe there will be a return of Crabby!  Good luck and the best to you!

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