Game Over Videogames was started in 2005 by David Kaelin in a small store in Austin, TX. At that time, retro gaming was not nearly as popular as it has become today, but David was confident that he could make this retro gaming superstore work. It has since grown and expanded to 15 stores across Texas and Washington states and an online store for buying and selling games, 24/7. Game Over has been featured on CNN, Inc. Magazine, MTV, multiple local newspapers around the country, and numerous podcasts, Youtube channels, and social media posts. David continues to run Game Over Videogames day-to-day operations, and he loves doing it!
Tell me about your early career.
I have spent over 27 years in retail, and at one point before opening Game Over, I was a store manager at EB Games. Over the years, I continued to do new things, but I always had a passion for video games, and when I left EB Games (who was in the process of liquidating all classic video games at the time), I decided that I would open my own store that focused on retro gaming.
How did the concept for Game Over Videogames come about?
GameStop decided to get rid of all retro/classic games and had huge dump bins full of classic game carts they were liquidating. Once they were gone, I figured that other retro gamers such as myself would love to have a chance to still buy, sell, trade, and play those games, so that created the niche that lead to opening Game Over Videogames.
How was the first year in business?
The first year was like any typical start up business…I worked long hours, by myself, and barely made it financially. It wasn’t until years two or three that things really started rolling, and the retro gaming market continued to grow and expand ever since.
What was your marketing strategy?
Our marketing strategy was primarily word of mouth and social media, as marketing budgets were tight. We developed a great and loyal customer base that continues to support us to this day. We are forever grateful to these early adopters and loyal fans of Game Over!
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We opened our second location across town in year two or three, then our first out of town the next year, then expanded across the state. In 2013, we expanded beyond Texas into Washington (Seattle/Bellevue area), and today we have 15 locations across Texas and Washington. Plus, we buy and sell games, consoles, and accessories on our website, 24/7.
How do you define success?
Success is being able to do what you love and make a living. I’m still not getting rich doing this, even after 12 years and 15 stores, but the main thing is that I love what I do. Not many people can say that about their job, and I’m happy to have been able to keep Game Over growing and expanding over the years. Our employees are great, and we are all truly proud of what we do here at Game Over.
What is the key to success?
Treat people well. Customers, employees, friends, strangers….treat them all well. You can’t make everyone happy, but you should always do your best to ensure that nobody ever leaves the store with less than a great experience. In this day and age, and when competing with unlimited competitors online, having great service is the ONLY way to stay in business!
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Realize that you are human. Many business owners simply think they can do no wrong, and they think they can do everything/anything they want. This is not true and it truly takes the hard work of my entire team to make Game Over work. Ask for your employee’s ideas and feedback, and then do the best you can to convert those ideas into actions.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“There is no try…do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda
What are some of your favorite books?
The last book I read was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It is full of classic 80’s gaming and nerdy references, and I highly recommend it to any fellow 80’s nerd like me.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
The toughest days have been the very beginning when any day with low sales could have very easily ended the entire dream/company. Having devoted my personal game collection, savings, and literally every day of my life for years. Fortunately for us, our fans, customers, and employees have been great and supportive in helping keep our company alive no matter what the circumstances.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Keeping this dream alive and continuing to support myself, my family, and my family of co-workers is what keeps me going every day. Our entire team loves this company, and just knowing how much everyone counts on us keeps me strong during the rough times.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Over-prepare. You will need more money, more time, more customers, and more sales than you expect/plan for, so be ready for that. Also, be prepared for the unpredictable as much as possible. Break-ins, robberies, leaking roofs, theft, employees quitting, etc. can all happen, so you have to be prepared for all of those contingencies as much as possible. Then, you also have to learn to adapt and be flexible. Sometimes, things won’t go exactly according to your plan, but as long as they’re going in the right, general direction, you sometimes have to adapt to a new path to get where you want/need to go.
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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