Oct 19, 2016

A Tale of Two Stores

My first store is thriving beyond my wildest expectations. My second closed last month. What did I do right and where did I go wrong?

Oct 19, 2016

A Tale of Two Stores

My first store is thriving beyond my wildest expectations. My second closed last month. What did I do right and where did I go wrong?

A few years after opening my game store in Veracruz, Mexico, I opened a second location in Oaxaca, with the goal of offering the same experience I’d crafted in my original store to a new community of players.

My original store in Veracruz, Mexico

Both places had opened under the same conditions: locations with almost no nearby competition, active Magic players eager for a new place to play, and plenty of potential new players.

My second location in Oaxaca, Mexico

After two years, I found myself in an unusual position: My second location was failing while my main store was growing by leaps and bounds.

What did I do right and where did I go wrong? As I prepared to shutter my second location, I took a hard look at my choices and here’s what I found.

Know Your Customers

At my main store in Veracruz, I not only interact with my customers daily, but also I play with them and share experiences with them. That deep connection allows me to anticipate their needs: What kind of formats they want to play, what kinds of products they would like to buy, and what kinds of events they would like to see in the store.

Because my second location was in another state, I neglected communication with that new community. I relied on the store manager to share any insights, but it wasn’t the same.

I had hoped that my social media presence (WhatsApp and Facebook mainly) would help me manage a long-distance connection. But I realized too late that social media is best used as a diffusion media. It should never replace firsthand knowledge of your customers’ experience.

Always Attract New Customers

Keeping your regulars happy and coming back to your store is very important. But don’t focus on that goal at the expense of attracting new players.

I made this mistake in both of my locations. At my Veracruz store, there came a time when a lot of my regulars stopped playing in events for a variety of personal reasons. Facing a drop in my player base, I suddenly realized I needed to turn my focus to attracting new customers. With some promotions and additional events, I was able to turn things around.

Meanwhile, my Oaxaca store had maintained a consistent player base. So I never worried about attracting new players. Then some regulars unexpectedly left that store, and my revenue went down drastically. But in that case, I didn’t take action quickly enough and I was never able to recover.

Prepare for the Unexpected

There are some situations out of your control and you need to make quick decisions to keep your business moving in the right direction.

I was able to quickly take advantage of some unpredicted success at my main store. But I wasn’t prepared for the unexpected disasters at my second location.

In Veracruz, my player base was growing faster than I ever would have expected. I had more and more people attending my events, and I was running out of space to host events comfortably.

Though I hadn’t expected to move to a larger location for at least two more years, because i was consistently reaching my maximum capacity, i was able to achieve that goal in half the time.

Meanwhile, my second location was hit with a terrible blow when the store’s manager had an accident requiring extensive hospitalization. I was forced to hire a replacement quickly, and I wasn’t prepared to give the new manager the training he needed to fully step in to the role.

At the same time, social unrest created chaos in Oaxaca, leading to the demise of most of the area’s businesses, including ultimately my own.

It’s a hard decision to give up and cut your losses. But I take heart in the wisdom of experts who tell us failure is often a necessary forerunner to success. I hope that my failure will also help lead to your success.

Store Stats: Jr. Game (Veracruz)

  • Location: Veracruz, Mexico (Population: 522,156)
  • WPN Level: Advanced
  • Age: 4 years (1 year as WPN Store)
  • Size: 55 sq. ft.
  • Website: www.jrgame.com.mx

Store Stats: Jr. Game (Oaxaca)—Now Closed

  • Location: Oaxaca, Mexico (Population: 256,848)
  • WPN Level: Core
  • Age: 2 years (8 months as WPN Store)
  • Size: 30 sq. ft.
  • Website: www.jrgame.com.mx

By Alejandro Sorroza, owner of Jr. Game

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