Gamers Haunt: An Asheville, North Carolina Game Store

Gamers Haunt
Gamers Haunt is located in Asheville, North Carolina. Photo Credit: Gamers Haunt Facebook Page.

Gamers Haunt is one of two games stores in Asheville, North Carolina, according to the Wizards of the Coast Store & Events Locator. Charla, the owner, purchased the store from her friend in 2019 and has been running the business for 5+ years. She assumed control over the store a year before COVID. During COVID, she created Magic: The Gathering “draft at home” kits. Charla says the local community helped a lot during this time. Before owning the store, she worked as a Mortgage Specialist. The store specializes in Magic: The Gathering and a little Dungeons and Dragons; one of Charla’s favorite games along with Call of Cthulhu.

Charla notes that the community has brought her joy since taking over the store. Due to the strong relationships built with her customers, Charla shares that customers will let her know if they’re leaving the area.

“Cozy little Magic Shop where I used to play frequently. There were always the best vibes for FNM and the prices were more than reasonable. If I could take one piece of Asheville with me wherever I went, it would definitely be Gamers Haunt.

“Also, Charla is the best!”

Jarrett Quinn Lefler, customer review on the Gamers Haunt Facebook page

A Small Staff At Gamers Haunt Leads To Benefits For Customers

The store specializes in casual play. However, they do reserve Modern events for competitive play. While her store receives solid turnout for Standard and Commander, she doesn’t recommend those new to Magic to start with Commander. There are several cards a player needs to memorize in Commander. Charla says it’s better to introduce Standard to new players because it’s a 60-card format with duplicate cards in a deck.

Due to having a small staff with one part-time and one full-time employee, Charla can offer free Friday Night Magic events. While she has recently introduced a “pay what you can” concept, she can afford to do this because of her large selection of singles. Charla believes this concept will not work unless you have said inventory. Singles are where she makes the bulk of her revenue. Additionally, while the large inventory exists, she doesn’t sell singles online. She prefers to reserve those cards for her local players. Charla’s noticed that if it’s easy to get players in the door, they’ll be more likely to purchase singles.

Charla’s two employees, Emily and Charlie, handle most of the day-to-day managing and pulling cards for customers, respectively. Furthermore, Emily will put together various programs for pre-release. Pre-release events Gamers Haunt goes all out for, Charla says. They like to provide customers with different gaming options for these events. While the store is open five days a week, Charla would like to add Monday or Tuesday to the schedule and be open six days a week. You can see Charla at Gamers Haunt Wednesday through Sunday. She feels fortunate to have bought an established store. However, Charla says the store has grown 580% since taking over.

A Store Owner Who’s Not Afraid To Try New Things

With a willingness to try new things at her store, Charla will create events like “Standard Skirmishes”. 6-8 week-long events with prize support. Again, she offers the ability for free entry or “pay what you can”. She even offers $5 rental decks for players who want to try the format before committing. Offering rental decks has led to repeat business, Charla says. In her quest to try new things, the store hosts 3 to 4 summer camps for kids of different experience levels. In addition, she attended GAMA for the first time resulting in a desire to carry more independent games. Likewise, she’ll be participating in Free RPG Day for the first time. She understands not all new ventures will succeed. An example was when she tried to hold Magic: The Gathering Oathbreaker events at the store.

Charla tends to run large events at Gamers Haunt. For Magic: The Gathering Commander and Standard events, there will be 50-70 and 12-20 players, respectively. Fridays and Sundays are the most popular at her store, the latter for Commander. However, with under 2,000 sq. ft. of space, players also have the option to play out on the porch. One of the most successful events Charla shared with The Match Slip was a Magic: The Gathering “Collector Draft” capped at eight players. Demand was high for the event and customers turned away, unfortunately. Likewise, during the holidays, she’ll run special holiday-themed events.

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Building An Inventory, Marketing, and Future Plans

Ordering products is based on gut decisions, Charla says. She tends to sell boxes of cards on the lower end where she only makes about $5 a box. As mentioned, her ability to do so stems from her singles inventory. Moreover, providing 60% trade-in value for customers helped build said inventory. Charla feels that taking a little hit in revenue early on helps. Don’t race to the bottom, she says. That’s the motto she follows for trade-in value with card singles. Additionally, Charla has rented the play space in the store for bachelor and bachelorette parties to supplement revenue.

When it comes to getting the name out there for the store, it’s mostly word-of-mouth. However, she also leverages YouTube for marketing. Whether it be box openings or skits, Charla uses her YouTube channel to supplement the word-of-mouth marketing that her customers do for her. Additionally, she’ll hold events at schools which could result in those students visiting her store.

Looking to the future, she hopes to have a place with more space and the option to rent out Dungeons and Dragons miniatures, and she’s in the planning stages of a weekend convention for Magic. Moreover, she would like to work with other stores in the area to create a “scavenger hunt” gaming concept so that the stores can support one another. Furthermore, she shared with us the desire to hold drafts-by-demand and a 2K Modern event. Charla takes in a lot of feedback from her customers and friends in helping to implement the various ideas she comes up with for the store.

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