Shelf Life: Abbey Video Games

Shelf Life: Abbey Video Games

MCV catches up with Bill Stephens of Abbey Video Games to find out why he is focusing on second hand games, how his retro stock has been performing and how pre-orders have fallen.

How has business been for you recently?

Quiet. I think it’s down to economics at the moment. People are tightening their belts, or at least I think they are.  

What has been selling well lately? 

Well, not Call of Duty. Let’s put it this way, a few years ago we had 48 pre-orders to Call of Duty. The next year, we had 24. The following one, 12. This year; none. We only buy in copies that have been pre-ordered – we don’t buy spares. Honestly, we make more money off second hand games than we do off brand new. If we get a brand new game in, we’re selling it at £49 having bought it in at £42.85. Take value-added tax off that and we’re making £2. 

Why do you think pre-orders have softened?

Most people are going online and are checking whoever buys it on YouTube and getting a low-down of the gameplay. They’re judging if it’s worth buying there. Then they’ll come in and ask if we have a copy.  

What are you selling on the hardware side of things? How are consoles performing?

We can’t even compete on the console. You have Black Friday coming – we buy in an Xbox One for £220 or £230, then you have Argos selling a new one and a game for £249 – we can’t compete. We make more money on second hand sales than our brand new sales. Us small retailers have to rely on these – we make no money on new games. 

I see you are also selling retro stock. How is that performing?

Our retro sales have gone up. To pick one example, somebody brought in a SNES to sell recently. Within two hours we had sold it on for £100. We regularly get customers looking for retro stock from as far as Aberdeen. They have started to know us as a place that sells retro games and consoles, or even accessories, like controllers. We have customers regularly buying PlayStation 2, Mega Drive and SNES games.   

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Tags: Retail , Interviews , interview , retailer , shelf life , retail interview , Abbey Video Games , Bill Stephens