We are opening a video game store... tell us what you look for when you shop mom and pop for retro games

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA6sPzAKUmo thats what our store looks like so far. Any Ideas or comments would really help us out. We’re located in Cincinnati , Ohio

That looks like a pretty neat store!


I definitely look for a guarantee of some sort when buying used hardware in person. 30 days minimum. I also prefer to shop somewhere with an on-site modder who can take care of all my modding and repair needs.

On the software front, have a unified price system for games. I hate picking up two copies of the same game in similar condition and seeing different prices for them at the same store. It should not happen.

Although it’s tough, also try to undercut eBay prices as much as possible. Or give deals if you buy multiple games over a certain value. People will want a price incentive to shop with you, especially as you get your feet wet.

Good luck!! And congrats on the new store!!

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Thanks! Yeah we try and stick to the current market of retail. If there are two carts of a game and ones label looks better, its the same price unless its CIB. Good suggestion on the modding front!

Best of luck on your store, looks good.

For me, let me tell what I don’t like on my local retro store, so you can avoid that If possible.

  • I see a game on their online inventory, but the person cant find It inside their store. Lots of Lost Sales because of that.
  • Import section: If a game have a english name on the spine (like most PS1, Sat and DC games), please makes the english side for consumer browsing. Makes casual browsing the import section harder than It should.

Hello! I go to a lot of local game stores when I travel. Here’s what I see…

  • You’re being too trusting of your customers. Anything over $20 that’s retro should be under glass. I see that everywhere I go anymore which tells me theft is a real issue, especially of cart only product. They basically only leave out the boxed stuff and even then the books/discs/carts are behind the counter. Sad, but true.
  • I see prices on everything for the most part that are visible. This is good! Anything in a glass case should have a visible price. Saves you time because otherwise I’ve got to ask you to see a lot of stuff. Just Press Play in Lancaster is notorious for not doing this.
  • As Shinjiri says, if you get imports, label them in english. I know a lot of stuff by sight, but not everything. Again, it saves you time. Time you need to watch your stock.
  • Be consistent on pricing. As noted above, one price for cart only and one price for boxed and one price for complete and one price for sealed (if you do any sealed) should be standard. You can adjust up and down over time… which brings me to…
  • Don’t sit on stuff! If it’s not selling, the price is probably too high. Run a 10% off sale on all your glass case stuff, or a buy 2 get 1 on only the stuff NOT in a case. Things like that. They work.
  • Make sure you keep the place neat and clean and don’t let things pile up in the back! Nothing irritates me more than seeing a pile of games I can’t even look at to buy and if I ask, being told “We haven’t had time to go through those.” Keep them out of sight until you’re ready to sell them.

There’s probably a million things I could tell you, but the best thing to do is visit some stores! Put “retro video game stores” into your phone in Google Maps and see what comes up. Go have a look at what they’re doing. If you can travel, go see how Just Press Play in Lancaster and York run their stores. Also, Complete in Box in Ephrata, PA. They have web sites too so you can get a feel from there. They are the best I’ve come across and I don’t say that just because they’re local. They have no peer when it comes to in-store retro setups although selection obviously varies and JPP needs prices to be visible. They also have a POS system that has all the titles in it. Not sure if that’s homegrown or purchased. JPP has grown from one to four stores in the last ten years. They will tell you that you should sell new games too.

Spenser of Complete in Box is quoted in this article. Lots of good info here…

I’m ex-Electronics Boutique. I was there when trade-ins first began in their stores. We had a local guy who was doing it already in the very early '90s. I work in retail IT still today. That local guy in the early days had a rule that I think can still be useful depending on store size today… “I only take two of any one game.” That way he never got inundated with sports games. If he had two Madden '93s, that was it. “Sorry, I don’t need this one.” was the reply. It can be workable today.

Lots of info. Hope it helps! Have fun, but protect your investment!


Main thing. Get to know your customers. Make sure that your employees get to know your customers. Your regulars are collectors and enthusiasts. Be willing to cut deals. Work with people on prices. Haggle. Give you employees the ability to do this. Nothing is more annoying than “My boss won’t let me cut deals.” or “I have to call my boss to find out.”

If you stonewall someone on the price of a game or two they aren’t going to want to shop with you and may not come back. Knock off $10-$20 on a stack of games and now you’ve made a $200 sale and that person is going to keep coming back because they feel like they got a great deal. Make it mutually beneficial.

Hire enthusiasts to work for you. Pay them a little more. Make sure they engage your customers and know the business. I can’t stand when I walk into a retro game store and the person behind the counter doesn’t look up from their phone to even say hi. The dead-eyed look of a bored and under-payed employee makes the whole thing feel gross. Make sure your store is a place that everyone wants to be and is excited to be there. Employees included.

CLEAN YOUR MERCHANDISE. Spend the time to do this. Have your employees spend the time to do this. It will set your store apart.

Make sure that your store doesn’t stink. This may sound weird but it happens all the time. My wife has literally walked out of used game stores because she couldn’t stand to be in there. No one wants to smell nerd-sweat and dirty old merch.

Be better than a pawn-shop for old games. Make your store a model of what the hobby can be. Treat your customers, your employees, and your merchandise with care and respect and people are going to flock to your establishment. They may not even know why but they’ll want to keep coming back.

If you have the space make try to create and engage a community around your store. Set up game-nights, tournaments, etc.

I hope this helps.

I think biggest things for me is standing behind your used stuff for systems and more expensive items and having everything clearly priced. It’s good to have things behind glass but I think it’s important to have a layout where it’s easy to see what’s there and prices. My biggest pet peeve is having to ask the clerk 15 times for prices of different games I’m looking at.