Something Special About Game Preserve
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June 2003 | Vol. II - No. 6

June 2003 | Vol. II - No. 6 TDmonthly SEARCH

Retailer Spotlight

Something Special About Game Preserve

"Be nice” and “Play fair” are more than childhood dictums to Kit Newkirk, owner/operator of the flourishing game store chain Game Preserve. They’re the principles on which she’s built her business. For more than twenty years, loyal gamers and their kids (and now grandkids) have been returning to all four of Newkirk' s Indiana stores. Her Zen-inspired business philosophy is simple:

Game Preserve Storefront

“Right livelihood,” says Newkirk. “That means being honest and kind.”

It’s an attitude required of every one of Newkirk’s 25 staff members, who must be not only game enthusiasts, but also conscientious about customer relations. “They must be good at working with people,” Newkirk says of her employees. “That’s what builds long-term relationships with customers.”

Something for Everyone

All four Game Preserve locations carry a wide selection of board games, puzzles and collectibles, but each store boasts a different area of expertise. In Bloomington historical games are popular, and in Greenwood, miniature collectibles top the charts. Specialization was less a plan than natural progression as each store evolved and tailored inventory to meet customers’ requests.

“As a whole, what makes the chain special,” says Newkirk, “is that we carry more game titles and have a greater selection than most retailers around.”

The self-proclaimed “game board specialists” offer patrons a floor-to-ceiling selection of anything from Backgammon to Bridge, trivia to travel games, card to word games and everything in between. Lately, war games like Axis and Allies and Stratego have been flying off the shelves. Still, Game Preserve’s top selling product remains constant—LCR or Left Center Right: a simple dice game that is skill-free.

Every store hosts special events for customers and has a designated in-store play area. From national Magic card game competitions (some players travel hundreds of miles to compete) to simple get-togethers, demonstrations and workshops, Game Preserve provides a place customers can meet and play new games.


Something to Talk About

Does Newkirk have a magic marketing formula?

“I’ve tried all kinds of advertising,” she says. “But nothing drives business like word of mouth and the press.”

Press coverage of Game Preserve has been impressive. Kit has been quoted and her stores featured in such venerable publications as The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, The Indianapolis Star and other regional publications.

Something for Retailers

For retailers, Newkirk offers this advice:

  • Address ethics at every level of your organization.
  • Clarify your niche.
  • Learn from your customers.
  • Learn from people in your business.
  • For your location, make sure there’s a good balance between the price of your rent and walk-in traffic.
  • Don’t tie up too much money in stock. Buy the minimum and try to move it out in 60-90 days.

And finally, that special something that could prove most crucial,according to Newkirk: “It is more important to make a customer happy than to keep their money. They’ll remember and come back again and again.”


Writer's Bio: Kris Decker endures eternal Minnesota winters by writing freelance articles, essays and features. Her two kids (a rich source of poignant, humorous, and most happily, free material) are the inspiration for much of her work focusing on the topics of kids, parenting, families, individuality and creativity. Contact her at




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