Managing director Steve O’Brien puts the success of his Action Replay store down to his ‘phenomenal’ staff. Although there are no immediate plans for expansion, O’Brien expects to see a huge increase in revenues this year as casual gaming continues to grow the market. Action Replay is one of the best-known independent retail outlets, and has been around since 1998.
The Walthamstow-based business has no second store, has no online presence and no big expansion plans either. Yet it has managed to deliver over seventeen years of superb service to its ever-growing loyal customer base, keeping those dedicated gamers returning for more time and time again. The store boasts a wide range of products, with various TV screens promoting games.
Founded by Nick Elliott in 1987 and celebrating 21 years in business, Barkman believes its lasting success is down to the great support from both publishers and distributors. Unlike many indies, Barkman doesn’t offer a range of pre-owned games, but instead specialises in new and hard to find de-listed titles. Alongside games, the company also sells its own custom built PCs.
Console Connections was established way back in 1992, with two stores in Truro, Cornwall and Barnstaple in Devon. Run by Mark Conacher and Fiona Stafford, the indie sells a vast range of new and pre-owned titles on all formats. Both stores offer a professional service, with competitive prices and dedicated staff who are also avid gamers, providing advice to those who need it.
Eclipse Home Entertainment
Created in October 1994 under the leadership of Steven Ireland, Eclipse is now two stores strong (after selling two stores) and is heavily customer focused. The business features a dedicated product manager, driver and several store managers, all of whom enjoy working in a relaxed and professional environment. Eclipse puts its success down to its excellent customer service.
Set up in Saffron Walden in 1997, Game On has kept its customers happy with its loyalty scheme that boasts 5,000 members. Alongside a range of games, Game On also stocks the full Games Workshop and Magic the Gathering lines, as well as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon trading cards. The store says its success has been aided by its location and effective window displays.
With five High Street stores alongside warehouse and office facilities, Games Centre is one of the largest indies from Central and Southern Scotland. Along with deeply knowledgeable staff, attractive prices and an impressive range of titles, Games Centre’s success has been helped by being open seven days a week and its online presence at gamecentre.co.uk.
Set up in 2003, Gamespod has built a reputation as a friendly and knowledgeable indie. The store enjoys a wide and varied range of customers from the town of Farnham where it’s based. Its visitors are said to appreciate both the store’s local touch and competitive pricing policy. Gamespod is currently planning to consolidate its efforts, and push further into the online space.
The repair specialist has been fixing consoles since early 1992. With three stores in Scotland, G-Force has been repairing consoles since the days of the Atari and uses only genuine parts sourced from key suppliers. Each store promises to repair hardware quickly, and sells a range of games and hardware at fair prices. G-Force also runs a loyalty card scheme for regular customers.
The ambitious MCV Award winners started life in 1997 as a market stall in Newcastle. Grainger’s empire consists of 14 stores based in the North East, alongside a website. The business boasts unique features such as a Hummer H2 complete with demo consoles, and there are plans to open seven more stores this year. Grainger Games is well known in its area for its part exchange policy.
To read the second part of our top 20 rundown, click here.