Nova Scotia

It may be game over for Halifax video game store

The Last Gamestore, a staple of Lacewood Drive, faces an uncertain future amid declining sales and big competition.

The Last Gamestore owner says he can’t compete with chains, online retailers

Adam Perry, owner of the Last Gamestore, says his business has been struggling in recent years. (Erin MacInnis/CBC)

For 15 years, the Last Gamestore has been the place in Halifax to buy new and used video games, retro consoles and other gaming merchandise.

But in an age of chain stores, online shopping and digital distributors like Steam, store owner Adam Perry said his Lacewood Drive business is struggling to make rent.

"This is actually the only job I've ever had," he said. "The future is all so scary if I have to go do something else … this is the only thing I've ever done."

Late last month, Perry issued a plea on the store's Facebook page asking followers to come in and buy something.

"I was trying to avoid doing this here but I have to try," he wrote. "It has been very slow and if there is anything anyone is interested in buying it would really help."

The post was shared around the Halifax gaming community. A few days after making the post, Perry said he almost regretted it.

"I wasn't trying to make a post to get pity," he said. "I know that's what happened, but that wasn't the goal.

"I just really, literally, just wanted to make rent. I wasn't looking for everyone to come rushing in and save me. It's not their job. It was my job to come up with something to save it."

Perry is scared he will lose the store.

A number of challenges

He opened the Last Gamestore in Dartmouth in 2002 and he bought the Lacewood Drive store a couple of years later. 

Then, in 2009, the Dartmouth store closed and all the merchandise was moved to the Lacewood location. For a while, business picked up, but it began to slow down over the years.

In August 2015, Perry had to get new carpet for the store as part of his lease agreement. Soon after, the Lacewood bus terminal, which was once by the shop, moved to a different location — taking away a large portion of his foot traffic.

"All the people that were waiting for buses all just stopped coming in," he said.

Perry estimates the store lost about 30 per cent of its sales during that period.

The Last Gamestore sells both new and used games and consoles. (The Last Gamestore/Facebook)

He also said it's difficult to compete on price with the larger retailers.

"We can't do sales on new games the same way. If Ubisoft … or EA wants to do a sale, they would team up with EB or Best Buy and they'd mark a game down," he said. "That just doesn't happen for me."

Perry added that it's difficult to stock a wide enough range of products to satisfy every customer.

The biggest competition

Local gamer Shawn Kehoe is sad to see the store in such dire straits, saying that shopping local offers more personalized options than a chain.

"If you want to find older games in particular, then you're really looking at the independent stores and having that curated experience," he said.

Not only that, but Kehoe said independent shops can also act as a community hub for the local gaming community.

The Last Gamestore has been open at its Lacewood Drive location since 2004. Perry says another game store was there before. (Erin MacInnis/CBC)

But stores like the Last Gamestore aren't just competing against EB or Walmart, he said. They're also competing against Amazon and other online retailers and distributors.

"The internet has provided a lot of options, and it has made it really easy to find a lot of stuff that's out of print and rare, and that's a great thing," said Kehoe, adding that it can also provide opportunities for people in rural communities who don't have access to local stores.

"But I think it really falls to those of us who do have access … to support those stores if we want to keep them."

He said he's been encouraging his friends to visit the struggling store.

While Perry isn't sure what lies in the store's future, he said he's grateful for the people who have supported it.

"I'm not 100 per cent sure I deserve everybody coming out and helping, but it is really appreciated."

With files from Information Morning Nova Scotia

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