There’s a certain feeling you get when you walk into your favorite store. A sense of excitement and mystery, as you look earnestly to see what new products await you. When walking in that store, there’s an emphasis on design that can create a sense of belonging–You instantly know that you and the other customers share a common bond. It’s this reason I end up spending money 95% of the time I visit Wish in Atlanta. It’s also why I visit the Nike Store or the Apple Store in Lenox, knowing good and damn well there’s nothing new in the store from the last visit. Yet I’ll visit those stores every time I’m in the mall. But the opposite is also true. Visit a store that cares more about moving product and you feel a sense of dread…like how I feel when I visit GameStop.
GameStop, for all its deals and abundance of product is a necessary evil. As much as I enjoy finding a deal, I hate every second I’m in the store. It smells like Discovery Zone, it’s overcrowded and looks like something straight out of an old Nickelodeon sitcom. But more than anything, what I hate about GameStop is how the store makes me feel.
Retail Is Now About How You Feel
We’ve come a long way in the area of retail store design. We can thank Apple for the mainstream success, but it’s come to be widely accepted that paying attention the emotional and psychological components of retail design matters. Make a place feel “cool” and inviting and you have yourself a recipe for success (assuming your product is on point). Sneaker boutiques do a good job with this along with the major tech companies like Microsoft. Hell, I’ll even fall off into a Crate and Barrel just because of how it looks. Not so much with GameStop.
GameStop embodies everything I fight against when it comes to stereotypes about “gamers”. The store is designed as if they do not give a fuck about customer experience. Their sole job is to get you to buy a used game and get out. There’s no incentive to stick around and explore. The transactions end up making you feel dirty. But more importantly it’s how I feel walking into the store.
The Story of Boy and A Girl
Let’s have a little experiment. Follow me on this journey. It’s a nice Spring day in your town, everything is going well and you’re with your friends. You hop in the car, windows down with the music playing and just talking about life. You arrive at the mall for a quick lap. You know, walk around visiting your favorite stores to see what’s new. As you’re walking around you run into another friend who is actually walking with someone you’ve been crushing on social media. They join the crew and soon everyone is talking and having a good time. You and your crush begin talking and vibing. It’s a great day. As the crew finishes leaving Bloomingdale’s(or your mall’s equivalent) you and your crush decide to break off from the group for some little quiet time.
You begin walking and talking, passing stores only to begin walking in the direction of GameStop. Already you can feel the mood change. That odor begins creeping out the doors of the store and hit your nose. You Brave the smell and even though you want to keep talking you have to get that new game that just dropped. So you direct them into GameStop. The conversation takes an awkward pause and you suddenly feel like you’ve made the wrong decision. The store isn’t designed for you do the “walk away” to build that little bit of romantic distance. It’s cramped and the vibe is just killing the one you had been magically building. So you walk up to the counter, buy the game and get the hell out. Only when you walk out you see your crew and that quick moment alone is over and you spend the rest of the time trying to salvage what’s left of the vibe you once shared.
If You Build It, They Will Come
A little dramatic? Maybe, but that happens to a lesser degree every time I step foot in that store. As comfortable as I am telling someone I enjoy the ‘nerdier’ things in life, that store is a reflection of everything I’m not. I can go into a Microsoft or Apple Store, enjoy their offerings, explore and still feel like me. GameStop steals every ounce of personal cool that I got. So what are we to do? Either GameStop is going to change its ways(which it probably won’t) or someone reading this, who is mulling over that idea to create a “cool” place to buy games and explore the hobby will finally build that place. Because my money and time have been waiting for a place to hang.