Local video game shops aim to find niche in struggling market

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Cody Crandell, co-owner of the Game Dude, 1121 North Ave in GJ.Art to go with LeRoy’s story.Sent as GAME DUDE 10-20.

The sales of video games have taken a nose dive in recent months.

The decline in sales has been around 30 percent for game consoles and 23 percent for games in the past six months, according to the Associated Press. Although the decline has flattened in the past month, the larger effects of an ailing economy have forced some corporate stores such as Game Crazy to close more than 200 locations across the nation.

While some larger gamer outlets are having to downsize operations, some privately owned video game sellers are finding a niche.

Locally, two video game store owners, Cody Crandell, 25, who co-owns Game Dude with his father, Jeff Crandell, and friend Kasey Stenglein, and Mike Morris of Gamerz Planet, are trying to find their way in a tough business climate.

Cody Crandell convinced his father to buy the three established Game Dude video stores in the Grand Junction area seven months ago. Since then, he and his partner closed two of the stores and decided to focus efforts on the store that sits just south of Mesa State College, at 1121 North Ave.

“This is a great spot,” Cody Crandell said.

Sales of first-run video games are falling flat, but Crandell said he is insulated from the weak sales of new releases. The new management has decided to focus on vintage games.

“We sell more of the N 64 (Nintendo 64) games than anything else,” said Crandell. “The new games, they focus more on the graphics than the game play.”

The former owners of Game Dude charged too much for the games, he said. He has since lowered the prices and continues to search for new ways to draw repeat business.

Because the Crandell’s shop is small, about 700-square-feet, serving the classic game niche makes sense, mainly because the store lacks adequate display space for new games. As a hard-core gamer himself, Crandell enthusiastically embraces the classics, which he said are his personal favorites.

To promote the gamer lifestyle, and in turn increase sales at Game Dude, Cody Crandell said he will be having gamer tournaments at a new nightclub, opening soon on Seventh Street.

Aside from one of the best collections of classic Nintendo games and entertainment systems, he keeps a rarity of the gamer world in a central display case that could draw in a few of the curious: The Power Glove.

“It’s more of a legend than it is useful,” he said.

The black glove, which goes halfway up the forearm, has control buttons hidden inside each finger and a key pad on the wrist.

“It wasn’t very functional at all,” he said.

Down the road at 644 North Ave. sits Gamerz Planet, purchased by Morris in 2007.

Morris said shortly after the Crandells bought Game Dude, they asked him for some business advice and, because of difficulties not related to the business, asked him if he was interested in buying the Game Dude stores.

Morris said he turned down the offer because the store was small and would not allow him to display the variety of games he sells.

“They have a different business model than ours,” Morris said. “Their strength has always been the classic games. I hope it works out for them.”

Gamerz Planet also sells the classic games and rents the classic game platforms.

Morris has made it a point to open his store after hours for youth parties, and he loans and donates games and equipment to churches and youth groups.

As for the future sales of new video game, Morris said the slump is only temporary. The economy has affected the game development companies as well. Many game designers have been laid off, and instead of releasing new titles throughout the year the focus is on the Christmas sales season, he said.


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