I know many have their opinions about video games, but for our family, it started as a fun thing to do together or something the kids could play with their friends. Now that the kids are not little, it’s not as much a family thing as I’d like, but that’s another story for another day. Today, I want to share some lessons I’ve learned since becoming a video game consumer.
A few years ago I boycotted a local video game store. Mostly, I was frustrated because two stores had merged and they’d seemingly become a monopoly. This did not sit well with me. No more competition. Why was it this particular store chain was the only one that could benefit from video game sales? It wasn’t their prices – some games were outrageously priced at $50+!! Where was the competition? Best Buy and department stores, like Target or Kmart, seemed to have a smaller selection. More on that later.
This monopoly? It was GameStop.
Lesson #1: Businesses only care about the bottom dollar, regardless of fairness.
But, that wasn’t really what got me.
The thing that infuriated me, really infuriated me, was the realization that this store chain monopolized “old” game sales. If you wanted an old game that no one made anymore, they were the only game in town (pun intended) since they bought used games.
Whenever my kids wanted to sell some of their old treasures, the store could name whatever price they wanted for these treasures, regardless of original price. It didn’t matter that you paid $100 for that old game system. “Here’s $5.” Really? Really? Five dollars for an entire video game system?
Lesson #2: The market is really driven by supply and demand and, again, fairness has nothing to do with it.
I understood supply and demand, but it broke my heart because many times, my kids used their hard earned money or birthday money to make these purchases…from THEM…and it felt like a slap across our faces.
Sadly, the boycott did not last long. The pressures of getting the next “gotta have it” game came along right before Christmas and birthdays. Still – I never forgot “the slap across the face” feeling and only went there as a last resort.
Years later, when businesses were struggling and foreclosures became the norm, guess which brand new store opened up close to my house? Yep – Gamestop. And it was striving! At a time when you were hesitant to buy gift cards from many stores for fear they wouldn’t be there by the next week (think Circuit City), Gamestop was not in danger of any such thing.
Lesson #3: Find a niche market that appeals to different ages and you’ll strive, even in bad economic times.
A part of me is actually proud of Gamestop for doing so well. After all, they employ local teenagers and young adults who seem to love their jobs.
Lesson #4: Businesses NEED to care about the bottom line if they want to stay in business.
As for the competition? I’m happy to see that there’s some competition now. There’s Craigslist, EBay, pawn shops and countless others. Also, I’ve recently discovered a store that sells used video games/systems: Destiny Games.
Yay for competition! That’s all I wanted really. And the funny thing is that I didn’t have to wait all these years to find that competition. It was there all along and I needed to think outside the box.
Remember how I said other stores had a smaller selection? Well, I learned another little lesson about that and possibly the biggest one of all.
Lesson #5: Make phone calls! Stores with smaller selections don’t have room for new stuff and sometimes have to get rid of their inventory at extraordinarily low prices, in order to make room for new stuff.
I’m happy to report that my son’s latest video game purchase was not from Gamestop. It was from… Kmart! The item was marked 50% off!!!!!! Even online stores couldn’t beat that price – and believe me, we looked.
I love competition!