We’ve heard our fair share of interesting retail tales, but 401 Games has one of the most memorable stories we’ve come across. The Canadian shop started out as a convenience store, but gradually transitioned to gaming over the years. The business has a fascinating pivot story that goes to show that you never know where your business (and life) can take you!
We recently caught up with Jeff MacDougall, manager at 401 Games, and asked him to share some some stories, insights, and best practices.
Have a look at what he has to say.
1. Tell us a bit about how 401 Games got started. What’s the story behind the business?
401 Games was originally a family business. The owner of 401 Games, John Park, came to Canada with his family from Korea when he was a young boy. Like many Koreans, they opened a convenience store. The store was located in the heart of downtown Toronto in a very busy neighbourhood. The store was originally named 401 Convenience, a tribute to the store address, 401 Yonge Street.
John was a big fan of collectibles and sports cards. As he grew up he began to take more interest in what items the store could carry that would reflect his interests. He began with Sportscards and quickly branched into Gaming in 1993 when the popular and influential card game Magic: The Gathering was released.
Magic’s popularity soared and quickly overtook the entire business. By the time the Pokémon card game was released in North America in 1998 our store bore little resemblance to the convenience store that it once was. Freezers were replaced with gaming tables for tournaments and the shelves were stocked with Board Games instead of sundry items. There was no going back, 401 Convenience had been replaced by 401 Games.
Over the years we have moved to many different locations. We additionally have a warehouse/retail store in Vaughan where we base our online business out of and have become one of the largest online retailers of Games in Canada.
2. What are the unique things about your store that customers love? How do you keep people coming back?
All of our staff are lovers of games themselves! Each one of our staff are avid gamers themselves and love to engage customers who share their love of games. Additionally we run many events for the games that we carry. We have an assortment of different events for many different games occurring on a nightly basis. From Magic Tournaments to casual Board Game meetups.
3. What are some of the challenges that come with running multiple stores?
Running inventory between multiple outlets is always a challenge. We have assigned teams to do ordering for each outlet to try and ensure that each store has its own stock of what our customers are looking for.
4. Are you using any integrations with Vend? Can you tell us more about what you’re using?
We currently use the Shopify integration to run our online store. While the integration is not 100% it really helps us push information to our Shopify store quickly and efficiently.
5. What is your favorite Vend feature and why?
The daily report page is handy and gives you a quick summary of what is going on at your stores on any given day.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.