Normally, I'd leave the self-promotion to personal social networking sites and forums, as well as chasing people down on the street to give them a card, but I think this most recent happening merits some words.
A little over a year ago, I and several friends began discussing the possibility of opening a used games store / LAN center. It was something of a hypothetical flight of fancy at first, though we eventually warmed to the idea and started taking it more and more seriously. We applied for several loans, but were turned down. Several realtors faffed us around on the rates for their locations before we found something both appealing and reasonable.
Long story short, it was NOT very easy.
The circumstances and logistics surrounding the opening and managing of our store are INCREDIBLY difficult. I don't care to advertise this fact, but I've been, essentially, homeless for a little over a year now. Two good friends were kind enough to take me in, and these are the same two friends with whom I helped to get "Game On!" going. The deal is one that is mutually beneficial, both for myself and for the well-being of the store. In order to keep operational costs down as much as possible, the store does not have any employees.
You hear that? It's just me and two other people (who seldom work shifts apart), running a store that's open at least 88 hours a week. They continue to work full-time at their dayjobs in order to supplement the store throughout its initial "darker days", and take over for me on certain evening and the majority of the day on Saturday.
I am here the rest of the time.
Now, let me make it clear that I am not, in any way, complaining. I am not seeking pity nor praise. I am only trying to highlight to you how very invested I am in this store. The fact that I forego a wage and am, in fact, indebted to those showing me hospitality is one that often doesn't sit well with my pride. I'd much rather be contributing money to my livelihood, or even living on my own. Unfortunately, the circumstances of the situation simply don't allow that at this time, which is FINE.
But it does not change the fact that this is a hard, hard situation.
We put great thought into the name of our business. "Game On!" evokes that collective subconscious, excited desire to take something head on and do your best. It's that feeling you get when about to engage in friendly competition with friends and peers. Plus, being a game store, it's always good to have some "game" in your name.
So when we learned that another store had opened up less than a week ago in the same city as us, and ALSO carries the name "Game On", it most definitely took us by surprise. Not knowing whether to feel insulted, or hurt, or threatened, we tried to talk about it as reasonably as possible. Should we pursue some legal course? Do we have any ground to stand on? What's the etiquette in asking somebody else not to be in the same business as you with the same name?
Ultimately, we'd decided to talk to them personally and see if we could work something out. We have big plans for our business and hope to be a significant community presence in the state of Colorado, for both casual and competitive gamers a like. It was our understanding that we would have some time to handle this.. that is, until I was contacted by several friends this morning, informing me of a story
run on Kotaku and our local 9 News.
Apparently, this other "Game On" managed to get some attention, largely due to the fact that the fellow that opened the store is young and recently lost his mother. Now, while I am not saying that these facts are unimportant, and most definitely feel sympathy for this guy as an individual, I've gotta' say that it's somewhat terrifying that a local business that shares the same name as us has suddenly gained such notable exposure.
Our store's E-mail has already received several messages from Kotaku readers across the nation, asking us to perhaps develop an online store that they might help us in some way. Granted, one could argue that the fact that they're finding us by mistake means greater exposure for our store as well, but we're relatively honest people and don't care to be found via misunderstanding. Additionally, we've been trying to make a name for ourselves!
Almost seven months open and we've already developed a modest community, as well as ties with other pockets of gaming in Denver. We are not looking forward to having to explain to various E-mails and callers that "no, we're not those other guys" or "thank you for your concern, but my mother is very much alive".
I do not hold any ill will towards the other owner, though I now have NO idea how we're supposed to approach the "same name" subject without appearing to be complete asstards. This is a terrible situation, and I'm ADDITIONALLY upset that this store, from a journalistic point of view, was somehow merited with greater news value.
To be perfectly honest, THAT is insulting, and I could not be more upset at Brian Crecente, especially considering that I have met and spoken with him personally, both about gaming and our store.
All we know to do right now is handle the situation as graciously as possible until we get a chance to talk to the other owner personally, and hopefully work something out that everybody is okay with all involved.
But, all in all, we worked hard to get as far as we've come in this short period of time. We never asked for a story nor did we think anybody had any reason to write one. It's hard not to find it entirely unjust, however, that THEY were handed a story when WE
Elijah (the other store owner) is HELLA' reasonable and understanding. They'd apparently heard about our store only a few days after they opened and were already considering a name change. He's just as considerate and concerned with local business and the gaming community as we are and care to be, and we'll be having a sitdown with him later this evening.
This will likely work out just fine. With any luck, we've made another new friend.