Game Goblins Game Store In Arkansas

Game Goblins is located in Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas. Photo credit: Josh Wilhelmi

Josh Wilhelmi, owner of Game Goblins, started buying and selling singles from dealers at events to pay for his travel. He built up enough income from this venture which led to a game store. Game Goblins started in 2012 with 2,000 sq. ft. of space in Little Rock, Arkansas. This would become a limitation, and the store would relocate to a location with 6,000 sq. ft. of space. As of this writing, the store has been at this location for the past nine years. Furthermore, the store is WPN Premium and according to the Wizards of the Coast Store & Events Locator, it’s one of two stores in the area. To reach WPN Premium, the Little Rock store required $5,000 in upgrades.

The store in Conway, also a WPN Premium store opened at the end of 2022, is Game Goblin’s second location. Josh opened the second location with WPN Premium in mind. The store received approval a month after opening. While the store is smaller in square footage and staff, Josh employs a full-time team leader who manages the day-to-day operations. Overall, he has 15 employees between his two stores. As the store in Little Rock, the store in Conway is also one of two stores, according to the Wizards of the Coast Store & Events Locator. From an operations standpoint, Josh believes in being open everyday. He says that each day the store either breaks even or is profitable.

The Income & Expenses When Running A Game Store

As the owner, Josh focuses on the direction of the company. Such decisions include product lines to carry, new events, and ordering. Located at the front of the store are board games and card games. In comparison, the “back of the house” is where they buy and put away cards from customers. Josh says that they’ll buy bulk cards at a rate of $3 per 1,000. Moreover, Game Goblins is not the only company that Josh runs. As such, he passes along his philosophy for the company to his employees to implement.

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Since Game Goblins started, it took a little over two years before becoming profitable. At the time of this writing, the company generates about 3 million in revenue per year. The revenue encompasses the two stores and TCG Player. 50-60% of said revenue come from products sold. Snacks and drinks sold in the store only make up 1.9% of revenue, Josh notes. In 2022, the store would have been profitable, but it coincided with the opening of the Conway store where Josh is paying 1.5 times rent. The biggest issue with opening a new store is relying on fixtures being on location when you move in and dealing with cost overruns.

Building A Team And Handling Day-To-Day Operations

The store in Little Rock has a little over 40,000 cars that drive by the Game Goblins store sign every day, according to Josh. However, the store has dealt with a burglary. The result was $4,000 in expenses. Josh said this was the first issue in 11 years at the location. Furthermore, he says another struggle is getting to turn out for events post-pandemic. While Warhammer 40,000 and Magic: The Gathering are most popular at his stores, Regional Championship Qualifiers for Magic: The Gathering have been tough to garner interest. Josh says that nobody wants to play the Standard format anymore. The Little Rock location used to have the largest tournaments in the area.

Products are the biggest expense, Josh says. His Operations Manager handles the direct-from-publisher purchases and he’s currently training a buyer. Josh says that it’s important to have the industry knowledge when making purchasing decisions. For example, he brings in at least one case of a gamer per store. If six copies do not sell per year, they will no longer carry the product. Josh notes that the company is very data-driven when ordering products. With a background in computer engineering, they have created internal utilities that they iterate over consistently to help improve buying decisions. He says that he would put up Game Goblins’ inventory of products against any other store in the state. Additionally, with a large operation and a plethora of products, Josh believes in paying his employees well to support the store’s ambitions:

A Try Before You Buy Approach To Sales At Game Goblins

Josh wants his customers to be able to play games before they purchase them. To facilitate this, there are demos on hand to show off new games. Customers can check out these demo stations set up throughout the store. Furthermore, Josh is selective regarding the products carried in the stores. Additionally, the employees hired to assist in these difficult decisions have worked well. While Magic: The Gathering is one of the most popular games at his store, he stresses that Game Goblins is a “hobby game store which happens to sell Magic.” Customers can access the kiosks in the store to look up the cards they wish to purchase rather than there being a display case that you’d see at other stores. Customers have also visited Game Goblins from other states:

“Stopped in from FL while visiting friends. The staff were nice and knowledgeable, [and] there [were] all sorts of board and card games. DND dice, plushies, figurines, magic cards, etc.”

Nicolette Rigsby, customer review on the Game Goblins Facebook page

A Look To The Future For Game Goblins

Josh aspires to buy property and would eventually like to franchise after opening five stores. With more stores added to the mix, the employees’ roles become more isolated. For now, a third store is top of mind. As he pursues a third store, Josh focuses on a few requirements before doing so:

  1. The store must be in a city with at least 50,000 people.
  2. The space he purchases must be at least 4,000 sq. ft.
  3. The store must generate 1 million in revenue after the first two years.
  4. The store cannot be hard for people to find.

You can follow Game Goblins on Facebook and Instagram or check out their products on their website.

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