New York City: as Frank Sinatra sang in “New York, New York,” “If I can make it there, I’m gonna make it anywhere.” The high rents of New York City and the famously thin margins for game stores add up to a fierce retail challenge, but Kings Games in Brooklyn has made it work since 2002.
We talked to Zack Dyne, Tournament Organizer for Kings Games, about the challenges and triumphs of “making it” in the Big Apple and his role in pioneering StarCityGames.com® Invitational Qualifiers on weekdays.
After thirteen years of business and two short moves, Kings Games is the largest gaming center in New York City. Magic: The Gathering is just one part of a thriving range of game and game-related activities. There are literally millions of potential customers in the greater NYC area, but that comes at a cost, notes Zack: “Everything is more expensive: utility bills, property taxes, even garbage removal. Yet the retail price point for Magic and other products remains largely the same as in the rest of the country. We have to work hard to offset these extra costs with the greater traffic flow a metropolitan location provides.”
Zack cited location as key to his competitive edge. “Being easily accessible via public transportation was a tremendously important consideration for us. We had to find a space that was both affordable and within easy reach of the super-expensive locales of New York City, which was no easy feat. We opened in a popular shopping area in South Brooklyn and it has been gratifying to see our neighborhood continue to prosper over the years.”
After joining StarCityGames.com® In-Store Programs, Kings Games aimed for a high Organizer Rewards Level to enjoy the benefits and flexibility that come with participation. Being the first-ever Organizer to reach Level 5, though not a goal, was a natural consequence of their frequent Invitational Qualifiers, including events scheduled on weekday nights. Zack explained why a number of stores would not be able to replicate his store’s success with weekday IQs: “It is important to understand the local player base. Why is a specific weeknight a good fit? What habits/hobbies are you competing against? Would Monday or Thursday Night Football affect your tournament attendance significantly? What % of your player base are younger kids who may not be able to play in a tournament that lasts until 1 or 2 AM?”
For Kings Games, the player base is ideal for weekday IQs: “For the most part, the player base is the same. Everyone has responsibilities and social life outside of Magic and you can’t help but lose some players to these other activities on any given day, but for the most part we see a similar pool of players in our weekday and weekend IQ events.”
Because Kings Games is open late on weekdays and has a large play space, holding regular IQs makes great business sense, and Zack noted, “These factors made weekday IQs an even better fit for us than the weekend ones.” He added, “We are firm believers in consistency: having a weekly (or nearly weekly) event on the same weeknight is appealing to players as they can plan their Tuesday nights accordingly, and it is also convenient for us [to have] regular staffing instead of bringing on additional staff sporadically.”
Consistency, knowing one’s player base, improving on natural strengths. Seemingly simple ideas, but without them, Kings Games would not have thrived for thirteen years and counting.