Rochester Game Store: Millennium Games
Millennium Games is a local game store in Rochester, NY. It’s one of four game stores in the area, according to Wizards of the Coast‘s Store & Event Locator. It’s the birthplace of the Rochester Draft format for Magic: The Gathering. Not to mention, it’s the “largest game store in the country”, as dubbed by store owner, Travis Severance. He has received no disputes to this sentiment thus far.
Travis, originally went to college to become a teacher. He has owned the store for 17 years after purchasing it from the previous owner on February 20, 2007. Overall, the store goes back to two previous owners totaling 38 years in business. Travis held a six year stint as a manager before owning it outright.
Prior to owning a game store in Rochester, Travis was an online poker player and paid to play in events. However, this was a taxing job and would result in him moving on. He even worked in mortgages which helped him negotiate payments to pay off the store’s debt accrued from previous ownership. While working in mortgages did offer a lot of commission, Travis notes that he didn’t like working in the business. After paying the store debt incurred from the previous owner, the business grew rapidly. With 36 employees with plans to hire more. 99% of his employees are customers of the store, Travis says.
A Game Store Journey With Multiple Ventures
In addition to the game store, Travis owns Free RPG Day. In additional, he’s a co-designer of Dungeons & Dragons Onslaught Miniatures Game, and he also serves as a consultant. His primary role with Millennium Games involves purchasing, employee development, scouting for talent, and planning events. He had aspirations to work at a game store from a young age. Moreover, his ownership of Millennium Games brings everything full circle. Furthermore, board games were something which brought his family together growing up.
One particular unique addition of the store is its used board game section. Travis allows customers to play these games before purchasing them so they can determine if it’s right for them. He also shares that there’s about 40% of space sectioned off for used board games.
When it comes to his customers, Travis shares:
“I have the expectation of my community to just come in to shop with me because i’m a local business and support me because i’m a local business. They should only support me if my business is something that makes sense for them as a human.”Travis Severance, Owner of Millennium Games
The Player Base and Word-of-Mouth Marketing
The play space can accommodate up to 320 players with 120 players seen on average for Commander on Saturday nights. Commander players are predominantly driving the prices of card singles, Travis observes. Moreover, Travis dedicates his time to learning new games. These games are ones which his employees don’t have expertise in.
The majority of marketing for the store is word of mouth. Moreover, TikTok reels posted to Facebook appears to draw the most traffic to the store, Travis says. In addition to word-of-mouth, the store has received positive media coverage in the press. The move brings customers a 28,000 sq. ft. location located at 1225 Jefferson Plaza.
With a new game store in Rochester and helpful staff, it further emphasizes how Millennium Games has returning customers:
“My kids and I went for the first time on Saturday. Even though they were super busy and my kids were taking their time and asked a million questions, all the employees were so nice and patient! A great experience and they are already asking to go back!”Tara Lin O’Brien, Millennium Games Customer
Reflecting On How Magic: The Gathering Affects The Business
When it comes to product sales, Travis sees the majority of the sales occur in-store versus online. Product sold is coming more from the single cards as he is not selling as much sealed product. Currently, Travis feels that Magic: The Gathering is in a lull. One of the reasons he feels is due to it being cheaper to play online (i.e. Magic: The Gathering Arena). He also believes that Magic: The Gathering Arena cooled new sets prior to the in-store pre-release. With these sale figures in mind, Travis has concerns regarding royalties for Magic: The Gathering’s Universes Beyond. The concerns center around the costs to offset the royalties paid. The cost of products are passed from Wizards of the Coast, to distributors, to stores, and then to players.
When it comes to looking to the future, Travis wants to update his store’s website to reflect his in-store offerings. In addition, he plans to bring in designers for merchandising.
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