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Game Quest, Inc.: Beat the Board

Hailey Wilt | hwilt@radford.edu

This week, Robert Roy sat down at a gaming table for an interview that centered around his shop—and the community—saying that he “didn’t realize when I opened up that I would have so much fun and enjoyment in this.” At 1085, East Main Street location in Radford Tuesday night, Roy proved just how he had kept the store running smoothly since June of 1995.

Roy, who is the owner of the store, Game Quest, Inc., said that he got the store from a “family from New Jersey,” where he, “started my own thing”.” Roy said it only grew from there: “the ‘soft opening’ was in June of 1995, and the ‘grand opening’ was in August.”

In the service for nine years, then released with a medical discharge in 1991, Roy stated how games had been something he’s always had fun with, “When I was in the service we played those two board games (Risk/Axis & Allies) and then some card games, Rummy, and Spades, somewhat.” He went on to mention that he got a degree in Leisure Studies from Radford University and his background revolved around designing activities and events.

“I saw the potential for a store that went to the next step, and not just provided the retail end of it, but actually programmed for it,” he said, his hand instantly went to the many event flyers on the window behind him. “Where you did events, you did tournaments; you taught people how to play games. We were the first store in South West Virginia who actually programmed for certain types of games.”

Stores like Game Quest, Inc. have always been around, but not many stay in business. The Comic Book Collector, the oldest comic book shop in London, closed in August 2017 after being open since 1979. Tramp’s Comics & Games shut its doors in Saskatchewan, Canada in August 2017 as well, due to the lack of funds entering the store to keep it in business. Roy thanks the community for helping his shop stay where it is.

“I think our community outreach has helped keep us around. I have been around the community, the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Organization, giving back to the homeless in the community, the Humane Society, so on and so forth. I think the outreach for the tournaments and so on, the outlet and the ability for people to do other things, it’s the same as those who own a golf store. It’s for people who need social interaction like this, we don’t deal with the online-computer games, we deal with human interaction and I think a lot of that in today’s society helps improve the store.” he said.

In his remarks Tuesday, Roy added that as the store stays in business, he sees the customers grow, he began to see a repetitiveness in those who came. As a store owner, he is at the front desk often and has seen his regulars develop. Proud of the family-oriented aspect, Roy has had several families over the years bring their children in to share their memories of their adolescent years.

He then went on to say, “in Radford, in my twenty-three years, very few stores can put their hat on and say they have been in business for twenty-so years. Us being in our twenty-third year is a milestone.”

When asked if Game Quest, Inc. would ever get involved with digital gaming opportunities, Roy said frankly, “Well I’ve looked at it about every year when I look at my business and decide where I want to go with the next year,” Roy gestured his hand at the wide-open store and the locals who walk into the front door. “Just yesterday I was at the University, and there was an Economic class who did a presentation on us, and one of the questions that was brought out for the class was ‘what was my footprint about online and do I have a shopping cart kind of deal.’ My only problem is that we have a small footprint, and being able to sell online you need to have more stock,” he then nods his head towards the large wall full of board games ranging in size. “I can order one issue of a board game, and it can sell, I can restock it, but if I am selling online, the multiple orders can come in very quickly that I would have to fill. It will just slow us down. I just don’t think I could do it.”

Confronted with the question of how the store has been overall, Roy was quick to answer that the store has balanced out sales-wise over the last five years. No one season is better than the other; the Universities and Colleges in the area have begun summer courses, and the number of students in the area has grown, leading to keeping business regular. “We do have an annual sale in September when the students return from summer break where our sales do better, but overall it has been on track.”

Roy compliments his store staying relevant, to the ability to adapt to change, stating, “When we opened up in the Summer of 1995, we were a full out hobby store. So, we had trains, model cars, slot cars, all that kind of stuff. That’s all gone. I have always kept my eye out on what is going on, and right now it is comic books. They have fallen off for us, hugely. In ’95, ’96-time frame, I had an entire wall of comic books, floor to ceiling, and I’m struggling to get 500 out. Change has helped out the business, keeping things fresh and keep up with the customer base.”

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