Interview Questions for a Game Store

Game stores are a big deal for the RPG industry.

What sort of things do you want to know about a game store that would make you decide to visit there, spend money there, and return? For example:

  • What games do they stock?
  • How knowledgeable are the staff about the games?
  • Any other gamer-friendly things they carry, like comics, movies, anime, or action figures?
  • Are they female-friendly? Gay-friendly? Kid-friendly? Newbie-friendly?
  • Do they have space set aside for gaming?
  • Do they sell snacks?
  • Are they close to other convenient gamer-critical retailers like a pizza place?
  • Is the store clean?
  • Will they do special orders?

Please post your replies as comments to this.

blue wizard

8 thoughts on “Interview Questions for a Game Store

  1. I have two comments, and both are influenced by my position as a Venture-Captain with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play Campaign. To preface, I have to deal with store management directly to help make Pathfinder Society game days happen at the various stores. I also have to deal with either growing or flagging attendance, so I hear directly from my player base what they like in various stores.

    1) Cleanliness and professionalism in the work place are paramount. My wife (and several other female gamers) refuse to go to a couple of the stores where we hold game days, because either the restrooms aren’t clean enough, or they feel the staff is creepy or unprofessional. Almost like the negative stereotype of how a nerd or geek deals with female gamers. The stores that also run as restaurants, typically have a separate restroom for females, and keep them extremely clean, are the favorites of our female gamers. So to help foster more membership, we want to encourage all the female gamers out there to join us, we would rather promote the cleaner and more professional game stores, vs. the stereotypical nerd holes-in-the wall places.

    2) Attitude. There seems to be an old-school attitude amongst game stores, that RPGs and RPG gamers don’t make the stores any money. This may have been true during a particular era of gaming (when the primary gamers were still in High School and/or College and had no money). And while RPG games don’t make the same kind of consistent day-in, day-out money as Magic-the-Gathering or other collectible card games do, RPG gamers are fans of other games as well. We collect comic books, play Magic, play board games, etc. So the more diverse your selection of product, and the more friendly you are to RPG gamers, the more likely I am to buy all those other products from your store. I had two friends of mine who owned a game store for 9 or 10 years before the sold the business, and I was a customer and organized game days at their store, largely because they were good friends of mine. But they were good friends with the owners of a very old and long-standing game store in the area, and had learned the bad attitudes toward RPG gamers. The attendance at that game day was abysmal, largely because my players did not feel welcome in the store. And in conversations with my friend about this, his response was, “it isn’t that they aren’t welcome, they just don’t make us any money. And actually they are a leech on the store as all they do is stink, take up space at our gaming tables, make loud noises, are rude, and disturb our other customers.” And yet, to a one, all the other game stores we used for our game days, bent over backwards to accommodate us, and actually asked for our presence. Many of them payed employees for an extra hour to keep their doors open till 11pm at night so that we could do a 5 hour scenario on a week night. So, in essence, the store needs to make us feel welcome in their store, and then I will choose to go out of my way to purchase most of my gaming needs (minis, flip maps, map packs, paint and other modeling supplies if they have them, board games, comics, modules, etc.) at that store, rather than the store that makes me feel unwanted.

  2. As a person looking at opening a game store, I’m very interested in both positive and negative experiences people have had.

    The only game stores we have in town either focus on comics or board games. While these are both viable products, there is nowhere that caters to the RPG crowd. The first has a gaming area that is dirty and disorganized. The second barely has room for its wares!

    Questions I would ask might include what requirements do you have for employees? What events does the store host and how often? How open are they to special events such as hosting an RPG art exhibit for local artists or special dinner-game experience?

    I don’t disagree that cleanliness and friendliness/courtesy towards ALL customers should be paramount of any business. Some places just seem to feel like they can get away with less than an amazing experience. If a store wants me to be a repeat customer, it needs to give me a reason to return. Maybe it’s the cool local artwork on the wall, or the amazing atmosphere. Maybe its the coffee! Who knows? But it’s got to have something worth coming in for other than the occasional book, poster or statuette.

  3. Another vote here for wanting to know what events they run regularly but even more than that, what kind of loyalty program do they have? One of the stores near me gives 25% off all tabletop games (including Warhammer 40k, Pathfinder, and board games). Another offers $10 off your next purchase for every $100 you spend. These are the two major factors that keep me coming into the store instead of ordering online.

  4. Ok, brain dump of what springs to mind…

    Are they friendly, helpful and fellow gaming geeks – and do they graciously support all gamers and not try to push customers to “their choice of game”? I hate hard sell and pushy store owners.
    How spacious is the store? I have been in some very cramped stores where there is more stock than floorspace >.<
    If gaming areas are provided, what about noise levels and observing games in progress.
    If wargaming space is provided, can you leave such games in progress and return to find your miniatures haven't been moved ;)
    Do they stock gaming novels/comics/collectibles (e.g. pathfinder novels, forgotten realms novels, and so on)?
    Are they linked with or do they promote a local games club?
    Is there a gaming contact board for posting for players and games?
    What about miniatures and paints (and brushes!) – a good selection available?
    Do they hold game related events (e.g. pathfinder society nights, larp meetings and so on)?
    Dice – buckets of dice – can they feed my dice monster?

  5. I would add a follow-up to the last question on the original list: If I do place a special order, will I ever receive it? I love the staff at my nearest store, but they have a very thin inventory, and a horrible track record of filling special orders.

    Second question: What obscure OOP goodies do you have in the back room?

  6. It depresses me there’s a game shop only 2 minutes away from my house, but the community there only deals with CCGs. The store owner is friendly and even offered to discount books if I can get a group together. However, almost the entire store consists of tables for CCG tournaments and a display case for Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh cards and HeroClix. All of the board games are shoved into a little pile on a display shelf. There’s almost no comic books. They put the tabletop RPG stuff behind a counter they never use. I think you’re allowed to go behind there, but the counter makes it feel unapproachable. This is suppose to be a card, comic, collectible, and game shop, but the layout screams “I AM A GAME SHOP THAT DOESN’T GIVE A CRAP ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT COLLECTIBLE CARD GAMES.”

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