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Top 20 UK Indies - Part One

Ben Parfitt
Top 20 UK Indies - Part One

1UP Games
1UP Games has quickly become an established independent store in Edinburgh since it opened in 2007. The outlet boasts a recently expanded ‘living room’ area, where gamers can sit on a couch and play the latest games on a large projector screen. The firm stocks the usual used and new titles and hardware, and also sells retro software. Moving forward, 1UP Games is looking to expand its range and will begin selling comics and figures so gamers can trade-in against these items as well.

DISCOVER - 01776 700069
Ronnie McColm opened the Stranraer-based independent in July 2003, and runs operations himself. One of the indie’s specialities is in getting stock that its rivals struggle to do, and it even had a quantity of Wii Fit stock when the product was in short supply. Alongside this, the majority of the firm’s revenues comes from pre-owned sales, with supermarket price slashing and stock shortages always proving a challenge for the Scottish indie. Discover is a large store, and offers a wide array of titles and a photocopy service.

CONSOLE CONNECTIONS - 01271 379557
Console Connections was established in 1992 by Mark Conacher and Fiona Stafford. There are two stores in the chain, the first in Truro, Cornwall and the other in Barnstaple, Devon. Both stores sell used and new games, accessories and consoles, boasts competitive pricing and offers a three-day exchange policy. All the staff are big gamers, and are more than happy to offer advice to their loyal customer base. The outlet boasts a professional look but with an independent feel.

GAMEPAD - www.gamepad1.com
Manager Simon Sharp runs GamePad in Bude in Cornwall. The store sells your usual console, PC and handheld titles, as well as accessories and consoles, and encourages gamers to trade-in their old games. One of the unique features in GamePad is that players can try before they buy, with a six-foot HD projector and two 42-inch plasma TVs, with every console available to play. The firm also runs regular competitions, with 150 children taking part every year. GamePad also runs a store online.

GRAINGER GAMES - www.graingergames.com

These 2008 MCV Award winners started up in 1997, initially as a market stall in Newcastle. The independent giant has come a long way since then, having surpassed its 20th store The chain boasts a distribution centre, a head office     and a fleet of Hummer H2 vehicles. The company’s shops are branded with its unique orange look and boast high profile High Street locations. The firm hasn't stopped either, as it plans to open new stores in the weeks to come and grow its web offering.

CASTLE GAMES - 01246 563030
Castle Games stores can be found in Chesterfield and Sheffield, and both sell your usual used and new games, console hardware, accessories and video game-related merchandise, including figures. The company, which is owned by Del Philipson, has continued to succeed despite the tough economic conditions because of its expert team, which is more than happy to share advise. Castle Games has suffered hardship too; several years ago it had to close its third store in Worksop following two large-scale burglaries in 18 months.

GAMEXCHANGE - 01204 707763

GameXchange in Stretford is a huge independent store. The store’s sheer size allows it to stock a massive range of games, while maintaining high merchandising standards and dedicating prominent areas to the latest video games. The whole Game Xchange empire consists of six stores, all owned by Andrew Parkes who started the business with Richard Moggridge. The firm has also invested in its own website, which can be found at: gamexchange.co.uk

ECLIPSE ENTERTAINMENT - 01253 820800

The Lancashire-based independent was set up in 1994 by Steven Ireland, who has since hired a wealth of talent including a product manager, a driver and extra managers to drive the business forward. In 2002 the store had four sites in Blackpool, Cleveleys, Kirkham and Preston. Eclipse has since sold its Kirkham and Preston branches, but is still viewed as one of the premier UK independents. Eclipse prides itself on its excellent customer service and great relationships with its customers.

DISKS AND DISCS - 01785 214098
Disks and Discs in Stafford was set up back in 1995, and boasts a prominent High Street location, which gives the indie a large and varied customer base that includes female gamers. Owned by Andrew Rawlinson, the store offers a large range of new releases, back catalogue titles and pre-owned games. Although second hand is the main driver behind the firm’s profits, Rawlinson has placed an emphasis on Disks and Discs’ back catalogue range in order to compete more successfully with the supermarkets.

THAT'Z ENTERTAINMENT - 01708 860260
That’z Entertainment has been trading at Lakeside for the best part of 24 years, and also has a recently refurbished store in Romford. That’z is the only independent in Lakeside, and focuses on customer service. The store also keeps an eye out for niche products that are ignored by its competitors. As well as a GameIndie website, That’z sells hardware, games and accessories for all current consoles, as well as retro titles and a very strong pre-owned offer. That’z also offers repairs, mail order and technical assistance.

Click here to check out Part Two.

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