Starting A Gaming Store - Like Jumping Through Hoops

Yesterday I announced that I am opening a gaming store. Today I am going to go into a bit about what all is involved in the process.

The first and most important thing to do is read. I plowed through the internet reading about other people who were starting a hobby store and it was a huge help. The best source that I found was the Business of Gaming Retail series of articles on I didn't know where to begin or what to expect so hearing about other people who were doing the same thing was very re-assuring. Well, I say re-assuring - most of the advice was not to do it.

The next step is figuring out if you really have a shot at making it work or not. I kept reading over and over that it was a fools errand to open a gaming store. Capnwoodrow hit the nail on the head when I was talking to him about this - your current job pays the mortgage, a game shop will pay for a game shop. In my last post I talked a bit about a problem needing a solution vs. a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. I had overcome this issue - there was a lack of a gaming store in our area after our local Hobby Town closed up. The next issue was overcoming the whole 'I have to pay the mortgage and eat' issue. I got around this issue by not quitting my current job and deciding to have the hobby shop open only during the busy times - Friday night and Saturday.

Having decided that it wasn't a fools errand and I probably wouldn't bankrupt my family into the ditch I set about getting everything in order to actually open a business. The general plan was to stock Games Workshop product, board games, and role playing games. I also decided to carry Magic the Gathering as every article I read said this is the bread and butter of modern gaming stores - it is where you make all your money. Since my goal isn't to replace my day job (I'm just wanting to pay the rent on the building I am leasing) this seemed like a good way to help make sure that would happen.

I did a bit of searching and I figured out how to start a LLC company in the state of Arkansas. I paid them my money and filled out a form online and boom, I was now a company. Next I needed a federal ID number - another payment to the government and an online form and I was good to go. I was then able to set up a business banking account and I thought it was time to order some stock.

The Games Workshop product would come from Games Workshop, and all the rest of the product would come from Alliance Games - they are the largest distributor of rpgs, boardgames, miniatures, and hobby accessories (dice, card sleeves, etc.)

Now that I knew what I wanted to sell it was time to figure out how to get it to the shop. This is where the whole process turns into a pain.

In order to be able to order stock from a distributor you have to have a state sales tax Id. Ok. No problem. I filled out a form and mailed it in and waited for it to come back. About a week later I got a letter from the State of Arkansas - I was super excited. I opened the letter expecting my tax number, and it was a form letter saying they needed more information. Crap.

In order to get a sales tax ID you need a city business license. Great. So I sent my wife down to my local city hall to get a business license. At this point I was using my home address for everything - I was trying to put off actually renting a building until the last possible moment to save on rent - no point in paying rent until you have something to sell I thought.

It turns out you can get a business license for your home, but you have to attend a meeting. That I had already missed for the month. The next one would be in four weeks. Great. At this point I was starting to run out of time to be able to get everything in order to be able to open when I wanted so I bit the bullet and rented a building.

Once I had the building rented I was able to get a business license, and in turn get a tax ID number. This let me get set up with Games Workshop and Alliance Games and I am now actually able to order product.

All in all it actually went pretty smoothly. If I had taken a bit more time to figure out what I would have needed it would have been a lot less stressful. In my next post I will show you the progress I have made on the store and talk a bit about how I want it to run.