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Accelerated Evolution

Giving birth to a dream of mine: A business


Alundra

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Alright, this is going in general because I want to generate as many posts and ideas as possible at the time, so let's do some backround.

It has always been my dream to open a gaming/cofee shop in a crowded business district of a major city, but I never found the courage to do so when I was 18 because I lacked a good amount of social skills that I have gained over the past 2 years, and now I am starting my initial phase of actually putting this to paper: the market survey.

For basics, I will be building all of the computers that will be used on site, which will be used in the shop, ensuring that upgrading the units will be simple due to the fact that I designed the achitecture, I will also be able to save a good amount of money by ordering these parts on a bulk level, which far outweighs buying entire pre-made units from the aftermarket. These computers will be fully optimized for being able to play Oblivion easily, and stil be able to hold a large LAN party for the hardcore customers.

What I would like to do is try and become a local hub for a local gaming team, I have seen many successful cafes actually get propelled forward by featuring semi-"professional" gamers gathering for an after-hours practice run on machines that could possibly be better then their home machines.

I have heard suggestions that people would also like to have CCG tables set up for those who like to just sit down and play Magic and the like, which seems to actually still be a pretty popular thing to do since I see a good amount of people playing it at conventions.

I will also be bringing in classic gaming to this location by purchasing a few large TV's where people wil be able to play SNES, Genesis, PS2, GCN, XBOX/360 and so on, I may build a bare-bones system for the 16-bit machines and run emulation programs to save on electricity and the possibility of the consoles breaking due to abuse. I can already supply the GCN and PS2, and I already own 20 GCN and 40+ PS2 games in my library.

Finally, I want to include food and drink to the menu to encourage customers to prolong their stay, so I may have to invest into vendors to deliver to my location, as well as having a small area where I will provide Wi-Fi to cater to businessmen checking their E-mail, or younger ones linking up on a DS for a match to Mario Kart.

Now that you have the basics, I want to know everything that AE's business-like minds, computer networking guys, and everything in-between can give me. Please remember, there are alot of ideas that I have floating in my head right now, but I would like to know what people would love to have in a shop like this that they have not seen in others they have been to before.

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it sounds like a pretty solid plan to me, but since you didn't really touch upon the coffee aspect, just don't let it be starbucks. It should be some highly caffeinated stuff aimed at the gaming crowd.

Well, I was actually reading an article on a failed coffee shop and I kind of use the term loosely now. I don't want to serve coffee as an exclusive beverage, but rather have it as a small, side-option that will be surrounded by other ones such as Bawls, soft drinks, and stuff that has less caffeine for the younger crowd that I won't have jumping around the shop.

An idea that I have come across is absolutely genius: having a working washer and dryer in the back of the shop where people that live in apartment complexes can come down to and play while doing their laundry.

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Like maxor said about the costs..then theres the space that you will need and you would like to have it downtown, that alone in itself will cost a pretty penny, but I think it kinda depends on what downtown market your in,and lets face it..the bigger the area downtown you have the more it is, but banks can usually help out with small business loans.

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I go to places like that all the time

also dude I don't know if you checked out the numbers and stuff but it would cost alot to start this (I had the idea myself a few months ago), but if you do it in a populated area it would probably work. just don't open it in a mall...

I'm just trying to bring up a point. People in big cities are picky about where they get coffee. He will definately need something, besides video games, that will attract people away from the corporate franchises and the already firmly established independent shops. From the average person's point of view, all they will see whilst walking by is just another "cyber cafe."

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Good luck Alundra! It sounds like a great plan. Hopefully you can get a location near similar theme stores (anime store, science fiction/comic books etc)

The only thing I can think of is maybe non-leet gamorz might not know anything to do, and will sound be an issue? D: With all the games going at once.

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The price alone, I mean you said youd have 360's, game cubes and so on. Large TVs, and if you mean large your saying 40-50 inches. Which if they arent plasma will still cost 3500-4000 each. All that including the computers can easily cost around 100,000 including computers, washing machines and the electrical bill that would come out of everything plugged in at once running all day. Then theres the building, with all this I think it would take a long time to pay off. How much would some one pay for a cup of coffee and 2 hours lanning? 30 bucks at most maybe?

Then again I am not a reliable buisness mind, it's just my thoughts on the matter. Good luck anyways, it does sound like a great idea. I actually thought of it once before except serving energy drinks and candy and stuff. But then I went down a diffrent job path.

If this place comes near by me i'd definatly go.

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A suggestion: be 100% sure you trust everyone you deal with. I could list a ton of people who have gotten fucked over by untrustworthy people and buisnesses. For example, my dad used to have a comic shop, but the distributor screwed up just about every order we placed, making it near impossible to run the shop.

And just don't blow too many fuses. Computers, gaming systems, TV's, washers, driers, coffee machines, vending machines, you're gonna need a ton of juice to run that shop.

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Yah, I was gonna say, make sure you hire a good electrician to inspect/wire up the place. I don't mean a guy that your mom knows or something like that but a experienced electrician. Be sure to get alot of estimates too before you do anything usually it's the middle ground you would go with and not the cheapest one. Check around on the sites that you want to set up, it may even be cheaper to build your own just depends on where you set up and who you deal with. As for the drinks and what not, pretty much what everyone else said don't stick with coffee but go all over the place mainly for energy drinks and what not and look into setting up a deal with a franchise like Pizza Hut so they can have a booth in your store. And monitor the fuck out of kids, thieving little bastards, and you may want to set up a type of membership card so you know who is who and when they come in just in case a fuck tries to take some shit.

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I'd say you'd need more than just gaming to make this place work. You might want to look into showing movies as well. Like have three rooms. A huge one for the gaming, a somewhat smaller one with a nice tv, surround sound, a good dvd selection, and the opportunity for people to bring in their own dvds. Have like a deal where you can watch unlimited movies, that way it attracts people in and also makes them buy your products. Which is really where the main money can come from.

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actually I set up a chart and all the physical stuff ended up costing around $15,000

but then again mine probably varied from his ideas

Are you crazy? Did you add in TVS? X box 360s? Big Tvs cost around 4k each. If you were to have that many systems hooked up to big tvs it would cost alot. And if you were to have only one of each console which probobly wouldnt be the case it would still cost more. One of each system would kinda suck. So the big TV thing would be the expensive part.

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Are you crazy? Did you add in TVS? X box 360s? Big Tvs cost around 4k each. If you were to have that many systems hooked up to big tvs it would cost alot. And if you were to have only one of each console which probobly wouldnt be the case it would still cost more. One of each system would kinda suck. So the big TV thing would be the expensive part.

Not to mention many high end PC's.

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a few basic suggestions from someone who knows very little about business or computer networking (but a decent amount about game shops)

1) research! find a likely place, see whether or not there are any established competitors close, if there are, look at what they specialize in and make sure not to do too much of it. See if there are tax breaks for shops in specific areas, things like that.

2) Catalogues! Get catalogues for all sorts of things, and let people order through you. Suggestions include swords and anime

3) If you want to attract the non-computer gamers (CCG and/or RPG) then you should sell RPG material and CCG's (okay, just Magic and Yu-gi-oh).

4) Bubble Tea. Just one of my ideas, bubble tea and places like that were meant to be together (unlike bubble tea and vintage furniture, it was only a matter of time before that one failed)

5) Card shops in my area all depend on food from nearby places, so either look for a place near as much pizza, chinese take out, and gas stations (for drinks) or sell them yourself.

now for questions

Do you plan on selling anything other than food and time on games? If you want to attract gamers (CCG and/or RPG) then you should sell RPG material and CCG's (okay, just Magic and Yu-gi-oh), but other things can be sold as well. I'd advise selling things that aren't sold at too many other places

Do you have a particular city in mind?

Regardless of any of this, I would advise you to talk to the local people who know about this and run any ideas through some of them before you start.

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On one of the other boards I go to, this subject comes up not infrequently. You see, this board is the message for various games made by Privateer Press, which is a somewhat known company in the RPG/Miniature gaming world. Every so often someone will start a thread along the lines of "I want to start a gaming store, any advice?" I've read through a few of these threads out of idle curiosity (I've never considered owning my own store, too much work for me) but they stress the importance of location, a customer base, and a reason for people to keep coming back.

Obviously good computers are a must. This is really very simple. There are two LAN places I know of in Seattle; one where everyone congregates to play WoW on shitty, shitty computers because they can't be bothered to play at home (or something. I don't get it, it's not social at all, they just feel a driving need to get out of the house or something). Seriously, these computers cannot run Half-Life 2 satisfactorily. The last time they were upgraded must have been before I entered high school.

The other place is down in the south end, so I don't go there as often as I'd like (I live in the north part of the city) and they are very fun. The computers are fast (not amazing, but I've never had a problem with anything. They don't run full settings but whatever), the service is good, and it's near places to get food. Also, it's ludicrously cheap. I don't know how they stay in business.

Anyway, a lot of people have said it's important to have your business have food in it or be near ready access to food. If people have to leave the immediate area to get food, they won't leave, whereas if they have to go two doors down to get pizza (like my old local gaming store, RIP) they will literally stay there all day. Most stores I've been to have a case with some sodas in it but that's about it; if you wanted to run a cafe or something that would be a different business plan, basically.

One thing I've heard a lot is that you need good lighting and the place needs to be clean. Now, good lighting is subjective. On the PP board, everyone says it needs to be really bright, but remember, these are miniatures gamers. They have to read rulebooks, measure with rulers, and admire each others' paint jobs. Not so in a computer place. In fact, not having it be really bright would be kind of nice, there'd be no glare on the monitors. So, it has to be bright enough to be welcoming (not some stank hole of gaming) but it has to be dark enough to be comfortable. And it has to be clean. No one likes hanging out in a dirty place.

Some kind of membership deal would also be pretty smart. Pay a certain amount (several times the hourly figure but reasonable) and you can come in and play as much as you want for a month or three. Of course, you could also sell time cards or something, like ten hours for (insert something that's less than actually buying ten hours would be, to give a break on bulk). This also means you can track your members.

Definitely get to know the regulars, even if they're assholes. Greet them and try to converse, even if they're just interested in leveling their WoW characters. I remember you mentioning somewhere that you worked in some sort of retail environment? Then I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. The difference is that when you're making the decisions, you can give your regulars a secret discount or whatever, just because you know they come in all the time.

And, yeah, rent and electricity are going to cost you a fuckton. If you sell RPG's, CCG's, or anything of that ilk, beware 12-year-old gamer thieves. It's hard to steal a computer, though, so your LAN business should be relatively safe.

Remember that you'll have to buy several copies of all these games, too. But there's business rates and such.

Darkon's movie idea is not a bad one, but I don't really see it working. You have to get licenses and such to display movies in public (even your store counts as public) which is why movie theaters have to charge so much money.

If I were you, I'd do one thing at a time. Start the LAN business, see if it works, then try to expand to a laundromat for gamers or whatever. Start small, definitely.

Oh, and I almost forgot; you'll be needing to pay for internet, too, and you'll need a really huge e-penis. And fast internet gets expensive at those levels. On the bright side, you can use it to download gigabytes of illegal content while the store is closed. Wi-fi is also a good idea. And don't forget that not everyone who comes in is going to want to play counterstrike or whatever; some people are just going to want to check their email, or even use AIM or whatever instant messaging program of their choice, or browse A-E! (okay, probably not the last one. For fun, though, you could set the home page to a random computer to AE and see what happens). (never mind, that's a terrible idea).

And make sure it's clean! Keyboards and such need to be washed. If some dude with a cold uses your computer, the next person's gonna get it too. Also, if you're not really used to working with networks you will probably need some sort of employee who is. Because as soon as the internet goes out your internet cafe is dead.

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If I were you, I'd do one thing at a time. Start the LAN business, see if it works, then try to expand to a laundromat for gamers or whatever. Start small, definitely.

I heartily agree with this statement. It can be very risky trying to do everything at once such as buying big TV's, extra console systems, washer/dryer machines, etc right away because if your main business model fails then you're in the hole a lot more than you would have been by starting out small. A gaming place is a pretty risky business to start up in the first place, so you should keep it simple in the beginning by just doing the LAN thing and with a basic cafe maybe. After awhile, you'll be able to determine whether this place will be successful or not, and then you can start taking on added risk by putting more things in your store, which if all goes well will bring you in added revenue.

On the bright side, you can use it to download gigabytes of illegal content while the store is closed.

I'd be extremely careful about doing something like that however. If the RIAA catches a regular Joe Schmoe downloading a song or two illegally, the worst he'll get is probably a couple thousand dollar settlement out of court. If a group like the RIAA catches a store downloading illegal content, it could ruin his business.

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Wow, thanks for the amount of input, especially you, Cerazie.

Yes, I work in retail, and I have a fuckton of customer service experience, so it would be no problem handling assholes, I'm one of the people they send out to kick out the bums outside, unfortunately.

For those who are saying that the computers are going to be alot of money, I'm not too sure how many of you have actually built a computer, because I had built a machine that can run Oblivion on high settings for under 700$, multiply that by 20 and you get 14,000$. Now, you also have to consider the prices drop drastically for those who buy parts in bulk from aftermarket sellers, which could actually drop that figure a good amount if I do some shmoozing with the customer service representatives as well (such as saying I will slap on advertisement stickers on the side of the unit).

Most of you are dreaming too big on the TV aspect as well, there is no way in hell that I am going to put out the money for more than one big screen TV, and that one will be for the 360/PS3/Wii. Smaller, tube based TV's are a dime a dozen, and I can pick up a handful of them for under a 1,000$ easily. These will be accomadated by my own personal machines, so there will be less of an expense.

Thge big issue is food, and what exactly I am going to have to do to meet the needs of those who ome in. While coffee is a must, (Amy, if you were serious about that expresso machine, I will hold you to that) I need to think of what the simplest and most cost-effective food to serve to a community that lives on basically unhealthy food. I will be talking to some vendors that come into our store in the coming days too see what the price range is to have them come to my location as a vendor (Pepsi, Coke, Tastycake and the like), but hot food is most likely the #1 thing on most gamers minds in my experience.

I would like to have a self-contained eating environment, meaning that I will be too far away from fast-food chains and mom& pop stores for my customers to have much of a choice but what I am serving.

The internet shouldn't be too much of a problem, my dad works for Verizon (he's a higher up employee), and I am sure that I can get a considerable discount if I am bringing a huge amount of bandwidth to this location.

Now, my next two questions for this post is if anyone here has any computer networking experience, because if you are experienced enough, I will actually fly you to me to help me (I'll pay you, of course) out with this so it can be done right. Next, I want to know if anyone knows a good banner company, because I would like to make a Accelerated-E.com banner to advertise this site, because I would love to see it grow as well.

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