"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’
“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
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
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 WriteEffct@aol.com