Tales from a Retro Retail Store


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Retail sucks. Videogame retail particularly left a horrible taste in my mouth after working three years for a well known corporate videogame chain that shall not be named. I was pretty much convinced I would never return to retail after I revealed the true horrors of videogame retail. With my ass back in school, however, I found myself in need of at least some type of income for spending purposes. Thus began my start at yet another store. The contrast between this new place and my last job is complete night and day.

My buddy was looking for someone for a few random shifts and the holidays at a pretty sweet retro videogame store that resides in our mall. I figured it wouldn’t hurt, and indeed it hasn’t hurt one bit. In fact, this store essentially does everything that wasn’t allowed in previous job.

No corporate structure is the best thing ever.

Without some bigwigs breathing down our necks at every move, we have an abundance of freedom. While we tend to gear towards the retro games, we do shelf the new games as well. We always offer the used versions first, however, one “no” from a customer is enough for us. We are not told to bombard you just to make a quick buck. We won’t be fired because our “numbers” aren’t up to par, and we will never force obnoxious sales down your throat. We are here to inform you about videogames, interact, and provide excellent customer service. This simple method continuously brings customers back. Not only that, we are constantly compared to our corporate “opponent,” in a very good light.

We have some leeway to bargain with you.

retro stuffBecause we are privately owned we don’t necessarily have to stick to our set prices when it comes to buy backs. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t technically a pawn shop, however, we are willing to work with you on certain titles. If you have a popular title that we are in need of, or is simply rare, we are willing to allow some wiggle room in how much you are going to get. And we always give more money if you have the case/box and manual included.

Gaming is encouraged.

I don’t know how many times I was reprimanded for playing my 3DS or messing with out Kinect even if the store was completely clean and all my tasks were finished. I worked at a videogame store, however, it was never encouraged to play them, even with customers. Makes sense right? I mean, that’s just supposed to be our area of expertise.

Where I’m at now, we are highly encouraged to engage with the customers. When the store isn’t bombarded with customers and everything is done, my boss is aware how we take advantage of the downtime. It is very common to find us with a game set up. These days we’ve had the Wii U playing Super Smash Bros. Customers are free to sync up their 3DS, grab one of our GameCube controllers, and even bring in their Amiibos, and interact with us. This not only helps with selling points on a game, it makes the customers feel at ease with us.

gameboy retroThe internet is our best friend.

My previous job barred web surfing from all computers. God forbid you connected to our internet via your phone, you’d also be blocked. I don’t know how many times I lost a sale because I simply couldn’t show a customer gameplay footage or a trailer via YouTube. I’m a visual person, as are many customers, so without the aid of a video, sometimes it’s just to difficult to explain a specific game.

Recently a man came in looking for a retro system that his young daughter might dig. After settling on a Super Nintendo it was time to pull out games and decide what would suit her. Keep in mind this father was basically clueless. No matter, however, because the minute he asked what Donkey Kong Country was, we simply loaded up a video on our giant television and showed him the actual gameplay. It was simple, efficient, and the customer was able to know exactly what he was leaving the store with.

It’s a healthy work environment.

The bottom line is that I’ve seen more smiles in the short time I’ve been at a privately owned company than I have in all the previous years at the previous company. Employees, including myself, are far more cheerful. Customers are happier with the service they are getting. Heck, I’m proud to see some of my old customers becoming familiar faces at this store instead.  And while it’s still retail, the retro retail store has been a breath of fresh air.

ÜM EDIT 4/3/14:  Seems there’s been some confusion over attribution on the featured image.  Word from Emily is that this was pulled off a retro videogame facebook group and she had permission from the author.  The owner of the image is actually Reddit user Gaming4Life42.  We updated to a better, more current one with very obvious attribution. 😀

About Emily Horton

Emily is just your average twenty something girl who discovered her love for gaming at the age of three or four, all thanks to her older brothers. Mario, The Lion King, Aladdin, Zelda were her first loves, but Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Tales, and pretty much all Japanese games eventually fell into that category. She has an unhealthy obsession with Pikachu, hoodies, her 3DS, t-shirts, plushies, and purses. She may also fancy herself as an excellent lawyer due to number of times she has played through the Ace Attorney series. Outside of videogames, she is a Disney, Harry Potter, and Tolkien fanatic, while also recently discovering that she is now a hardcore fan of Supernatural thanks to Netflix allowing her to watch eight seasons rapid fire. She has elvish writing, the Deathly Hallows, a rather large Tinkerbelle and a large Yuna from Final Fantasy X all tattooed on her body, with only more geeky stuff to be added. Currently working on her own fantasy novel, she hopes to publish it eventually once all the kinks are worked out.

Recommended for you