Warehouse or Retail Store?

Game LibraryWe are coming up on our end of the lease fast and while we’ve made the decision that we will be moving to a new location as our rents have now increased to a point that we no longer think it’s worthwhile to stay, the question we are still working our way through is whether to go full retail or stay as an online store.


Continuing to run a warehouse makes a lot of sense in many ways.  There are some major pros including:

  • well optimised polices and procedures
  • ability to take on more and larger Kickstarter projects
  • potentially branching into other non-related product lines in ways that don’t create confusion among our customers (e.g. selling sporting equipment on a new website)
  • lower cost (we can get warehouse spaces for cheaper than what we are paying right now, so we’d actually drop our cost!)

The Cons though are somewhat more nebulous

  • new location likely to be less central significantly
  • growth has to come from new categories as our gaming category has slowed
  • potentially being locked out further by publishers
  • it’s boring…

Retail Store

Going with the retail store, things get a bit more interesting for the future, with some of the pro’s including:

  • new revenue streams from snacks & drinks & events
  • ability to access and run events / games likes Magic the Gathering and miniature games
  • increase in sales to casual drop-in’s and potential increase in sales from impulse buying of our geek products
  • significantly more options for PR and social media outreach

However, there are some major cons:

  • significantly higher lease cost (we’re looking at least another $4,000 a month at a minimum, more likely $5-7k).
  • new staff and staffing hours would be required.  Approximately $3k more in terms of staffing cost per month
  • loss of revenue from Kickstarter projects.  We probably could handle the smaller projects still, but the larger projects would be difficult (i.e. we couldn’t quote on projects over a few hundred games just due to lack of storage areas for them)
  • new capital requirements for shelving, gondolas, POS systems, etc.  At least another 5 – 10k depending on how nice we want to go.
  • potentially sub-par location.  We need a minimum of 2,500 sq ft and are probably looking at 3,000 up to 5,000 sq ft.  There just aren’t that many locations of that size in Vancouver, especially in retail and for the prices we can afford which would raise the total rent even higher
  • too close locations are another major issue as there are so many game stores right now, finding a location that isn’t too close to an existing store is another problem.

There’s also a rather concerning trend in real estate pricing.  In general, commercial pricing seems to run 2 – 3 years behind retail pricing, so if there is a drop in sales in retail pricing, we might expect a price drop in a few years which means that any lease we sign right now might be on the high price.

6 thoughts on “Warehouse or Retail Store?”

  1. Is a board game café a viable option? Every time I visit Toronto, Snakes & Lattes seems to keep growing and growing. I also look on in jealousy at the 3 board game cafés in Edmonton and I had a great experience at the one in Victoria. The closest thing here is Pizzeria Ludica or Storm Crow (kinda). Maybe real estate is just too crazy here since I would’ve expected one to have already started up by now. I’m also not business-oriented, so maybe the numbers just don’t make it worthwhile. But I can dream!

    1. Well, considering we need about 2,000 sq ft to store our stock, adding a game cafe for us would mean we’d need at least another 2,000sq ft. That pushes things up even more in terms of cost. Also, frankly; I know nothing about running a cafe and wouldn’t want to try one straight away. The B&M retail store is a step in that direction, but we need to be certain of htat one first before we do a game cafe.

  2. I would ask myself ‘how sure am I of my abilities” instead. If you are sure you can manage the logistics of a retial store then i say go for it. If on the other hand you just dont feel you could manage the amount of ‘different workload’, then i say stick with what you know and revisit the decision later.

  3. Changes are always exciting! Daunting, but exciting.

    I’d lean toward a retail location! With the very strong caveat that it’d need to be in a good location, or not at all. Have you considered Burnaby? It’d certainly be less expensive than Vancouver, while areas like Hastings are still fairly central and accessible.

    1. The Hastings-Sunrise area is certainly on our list of locations that might be good. However, I don’t like the lack of public transportation along Hastings, so it’s certainly not high on our list.

      Outside of that, Burnaby is surprisingly hard to find good retail locations for with decent pricing. I might be able to locate more when I actually start seriously looking, but our minimum size is a big hindrance.

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