Have you ever thought about opening up a game store of your own? What kind of stuff would you have to worry about? How do you plan events? How do you get the word out to attract customers? And why is Magic such a big deal to store owners?
On January 21st, 2015, I went to a little game shop called All the King’s Men (ATKM) in Pitman, New Jersey. ATKM sells game boards and chess as well as Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! and is owned by Stephen Dick. He was nice enough to let me ask him a few questions about running his own game store and how the day-to-day operations work. Here’s what we talked about.
When did All the King’s Men open up?
December 1st, 2007
What inspired you to open a game shop involving Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, chess, etc.?
I didn’t like what was going on with games, and I feel that video games are a little too impersonal. I wanted to start an establishment and wanted to get face-to-face interaction pertaining to games.
Is it difficult to run a game shop?
Small business is a lot of work, It’s much harder on someone who don’t have prior experience. Every business have their own difficulty. Just because you are a good game player doesn’t mean you can run a shop selling cards and board games and such. It doesn’t work out that way. Same way goes for being a chef. You can be the world’s greatest chef but it doesn’t mean you know how to run a business.
What made you choose the location of All the King’s Men to be in Pitman, NJ?
To tell you quite honestly, if I knew what I know now, I probably most likely wouldn’t have picked this location. That being said, at the time, I had just moved to the town, I liked the whole downtown district, and the rent was cheap.
What are some of your methods you use to attract people to come out and play?
Determining where people play and location is important. The nearer the location Magic: The Gathering players are at, the more likely they will come and play. Also, being well organized and having friendly, knowledgeable helpful staff helps.
Do you enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering?
Yes I do, very much. When I first started the business, I wanted to learn the game so that way I could have a knowledgeable conversation with my customers and have a good understanding of how the game worked. I didn’t start playing until I started this shop and I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would.
Which format do you prefer to play in? Standard, limited, EDH, etc.?
I would have to say limited or draft. I like the appeal of opening up booster packs and make a deck on the fly. I do also like standard constructed deck where you can work on the deck and know what type of cards could be coming your way to use for playing. In most cases, players can have a better deck than you because they spent more money on the cards they made for the deck. In limited, everyone spends the same amount and that makes it a more fair playing ground for everyone who plays.
How do you prepare yourself for events such as pre-release, game day, PTQ, and such?
Determining the entry fees for an event is figuring out who your target market is and put together a prize package which can attract the players. The prize packs can also determine the market typical by other events going on in the area, and maintain being profitable at the same time. The focus is on the casual players instead of the high-end. Top-notch players flatten the prize pool. Every player gets something, even just by showing up to participate in the event.
How do you get inventory for your shop as far as getting the singles for Magic: The Gathering?
The store will open 1 to 2 booster cases, which each cases contains 6 booster boxes of 36 booster packs of 15 cards each for starting the inventory for the new set release, and also players bring in their collections for cash or store credits goes into the inventory. Same goes for the website which has a buylist; you can see what the store is interested in buying and then sell it to us and we can send out a check or pay you via PayPal, instantly.
Where do you base your prices for Magic single cards off of?
We base it off of the website TCGplayer.com. we use the lower end of the card prices for our singles.
Can anybody come in and try and trade cards for what you have in your inventory?
Trading here doesn’t work the same way as you would’ve traded with your friends or other players. I can’t put it in the books that I traded you a card from my inventory case for your high priced card. The market value is put on the cards. Store credits give you 15% more for your card than it would be for the store to buy it. You can use that store credit and buy another card with it, and then it can be shown in the books that this has happened, so trading is not necessary for my store.
I would like to thank Stephen for taking the time out of his day to let me interview him. He could’ve told me, “No way. Get out of here!” but he didn’t. If you live in the Pitman area and would like to order anything from his website or stop by, check out the link below. Be sure to leave a nice comment and give them a good rating and tell them that Richy sent you.