Game Store In Kingsport, TN: Carboard Shuffle

Cardboard Shuffle game store in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Cardboard Shuffle is the only game store in Kingsport, Tennessee, according to Wizards of the Coasts’ Store & Event Locator. Based in a factory town, the store originally started inside Mark’s house where he was only selling singles. As time went on the amount of single cards he was collecting to sell exceeded the space in his house. Therefore, Mark realized a retail location would be necessary.

Cardboard Shuffle has been in business since 2019, however, the retail store didn’t come to exist until its second year. With sales quadrupling every year since opening, Mark has been able to employ five full-time employees. Having these full time employees has enabled him to expand the product offerings in the store. In addition, he guarantees his employees two consecutive days off a week and each specializes in a particular area of expertise further bringing value to the store.

As Mark states:

“I want to make sure my employees have two consecutive days off, no matter what.”

Mark, Store Owner of Cardboard Shuffle

Managing Two Jobs In A Given Day

While being a store owner requires a lot of time and attention, Mark is also a school teacher. After teaching, he normally heads straight to the store afterward. His role includes ordering product, paying the bills, and being in-store on days when short staffed. Typically, Mark spends one to two hours in the store a day. Whether he’s in the store beyond two hours, three to four hours of his day require estimating how much money on product to spend. Due to the nature of acquiring product, he works with three to four distributors that can cover the allocation required. Mark notes that figuring out the allotment system can be a challenge and this was even more so the case during COVID. When you’re starting off in the beginning, you need to spend more money with the distributor to get more product, Mark says.

Being a school teacher and owning a game store in Kingsport take up a good chunk of Mark’s time so his days of being a Magic: The Gathering grinder have concluded. For 8 years, Mark had participated in the SCG tournament circuit. He went to almost all of the events during those early days except those that were on the west coast. While he may not be playing competitive anymore, he still enjoys playing the Pauper format as well as Modern for fun. Mark’s passion for gaming started with Yu-Gi-Oh in 1997.

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Connecting With The Player Base & Satisfying Customers

As the business continues to grow, more square footage is necessary, Mark says. However, he maintains that the store will remain in the area the current location is in. The commradary and appreciation Mark has developed with his customers speaks for itself as outlined by one of his customers, Brittany Williams:

“What I enjoyed most about my visit to Cardboard Shuffle is how friendly, down-to-earth, and eager to help the owner was and his passion for games and collectibles. I admired how he has built a well organized and welcoming safe haven within the walls of his store for a community who share his same passions. Whether your a competive player or simply a collector of various TCGs that impression throughly shines through with great sincerity as soon as you cross the threshold of his store. You will leave a super stoked patron, without a doubt, if you choose to pay Cardboard Shuffle a visit!”

Brittany Williams, Cardboard Shuffle Customer

When it comes to events offered to those players – like Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQ) – one of the approaches Mark has taken is to charge a $5 entry for promos instead of the high-cost to enter the tournament. In terms of demand for games at his store, Mark shares that Pokemon gets a wide age range demo showing up for events. Additionally, Shadowverse is a big game in Kingsport. The game’s popularity came as a shock as Mark originally expected to lose money on the game. However, the game soldout in 11.5 hours.

The Financial Impacts At Play When Owning A Game Store

When it comes to the financial input required of these games, Mark shares that he invests $1,000 into every game. With this kind of investment comes the flipside of what he needs to make in revenue per day in order to not lose money. If he’s not making $1,000 in merchandising per day while the store is open, he’s losing money. On Mondays Mark’s game store in Kingsport closes. He notes that Mondays are the slowest in the game store industry. By staying closed on Mondays, the store only loses $200 instead of $1,000 when factoring in variables like payroll, electricity, and rent, Mark says.

In terms of business output, Cardboard Shuffle, sells 3,000-5,000 single cards a week. The single cards serve as the highest profit margin while booster boxes only account for $20-$30 in profit. A 20% return on sales is necessary, Mark says. In an effort to help further increase sales, the store is adding used video game inventory to the store’s website. Outside of used video games, Mark also produces his own products like playmats and card sleeves. The playmats continue to sell out and are very popular amongst customers.

Mark aspires for 20,000 square foot of property so that he has a larger space not only for product, but also a place for his customers.

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