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Old 17 June 2019, 05:17   #1
005AGIMA
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Is there a place for traditional "Computer Shops" in modern retail?

There's a reason I've put this in the Nostalgia area, which I will go into, but happy for it to be moved to OT if that's the better place for it.

There is often discussion in the Nostalgia area about our old computer or "Amiga" shops that we used to frequent, and the attached memories.

Sadly, as is also often discussed, most are now closed down, with a few still surviving here and there.

Many indie shops were of course killed off by unstoppable franchises like PC World, GAME, EB Games, etc etc.

And now, with the rise of the interwebs, DRM, and necessary evils like Steam, even those mighty giants look possibly set to falter, and many have closed individual under-achieving stores.

My question is, is there hope? With the demise of the larger chains, does that once again leave room for savvy independent to re-emerge, once again with the customer focus AND industry knowledge that was usually missing from the franchise stores?

In my view, a smart indi store in 2019 and beyond would of course ALSO be an online store. You'd have to be.

It would be across both modern AND historic hardware and software, catering primarily for the aging population of yesteryear. The Model Train store of our generation I guess.

BUT would also cater to the next gen, rather than being ONLY retro.

Trying to be 100% subjective and removing yourself from nostalgia and fandom, do you think it's viable? Is it needed? Would it be welcome?

Personally I also think global location is a key factor, and I 100% believe I'm living in the WRONG place to make such a thing work (Perth, Western Australia).

But life is short.

And I'm fkn bored (in my current job)

Thoughts? Go!

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Old 17 June 2019, 12:07   #2
gimbal
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What is dying out are the multi-platform catch-all shops that have no purpose other than to sell you a box with content. What I see replacing them is the focussed shops, like the already existing Nintendo store which will have a purpose of making you interested in everything Nintendo has to offer; something that a website will never be able to do as effectively.

There will be far fewer of them, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
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Old 17 June 2019, 12:20   #3
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I don't see "business" in selling retro stuff, but i could be wrong
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Old 17 June 2019, 12:23   #4
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I don’t see brick and mortar stores competing against instant gratification point-and-click ordering any more, with the exception of some of the tech giants like Apple and Microsoft.

I really don’t see a retro/hobby market localized in one place enough to help a tiny shop pay its rent :/

That said, I do expect to see a rise of CONs and vendors and demos and trade shows. Perhaps there just needs to be more retro focused CONs?
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Old 17 June 2019, 20:58   #5
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I don't know how it is where you live, but I think in general, retail as a whole is dying out, so it doesn't seem like there's space for anyone but the mega corporations and billionaire companies.
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Old 18 June 2019, 20:06   #6
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There's no easy answer here. It really depends on one's location, services offered, products offered, and what the local interest is. Here, the local computer shops are pretty much all but gone. The ones that remain focus on repairs and upgrades and are long established and have inroads into the business markets.

The costs of brick and mortar stores in most urban settings are far more than a computer type shop could afford, even larger chain store are closing due to leasing costs and lack of viable locations. This pushes smaller brick and mortar stores farther away from prime retail areas.

The advent of tablets and mobile phones with enough power to play games and run productivity apps had been a stab to the heart of the traditional laptop and desktop computer market. Me, I'll stick with my 30" monitors for actually being useful to work on.

The next few years there will be a large push from the games producers for the primary gaming platforms away from disk based distribution to full online distribution with a greater reliance on content streaming, so the stores that retail in new software/games that are disk based will be coming under pressure to survive.

When it comes to an indie retro/classic shop, the big factor here is local interest. Locally here there is a not insignificant interest in retro/classic gaming. We have a retro video game/pinball arcade that is really popular. There are a couple retro Nintendo stores, and a board gaming cafe. As a general observation there is an uptick on the interest in classic/retro platforms, mainly around gaming. As generations age, they are wanting to recapture that bit of their youth with the devices and applications/games they remember as being fun.

So, while a classic computer shop, may not be the way to go, a hybridized concept that crosses multiple classic platforms, that offers a variety of services and attractions. A one trick pony shop won't work in today's markets.

Of course this depends on local consumer market conditions and preferences.

For a brick on mortar to work, you need something to bring people in, and to keep people coming back.

An idea could be something like this.

Start with a cafe concept, hot and cold beverages and light food items (ala StarBucks). To this add a variety of cross segment draws. Board gaming, card gaming, then add retro console gaming (PS1, PS2, NES/SNES, X-Box (more popular draws). People rent time on the retro consoles and have a selection of games. This would be best accomplished on emulated platforms.

Now add in sales and service for retro consoles (refurbished originals or new emulation consoles) with a selection of game titles for the platforms. If people like playing, then they can take a what is fun home with them. Things like sales of platforms and games could be also done online.

To keep people coming back, offer special events like tournaments for various board games, card games, console titles, lan parties.

Then there is marketing and advertising. Know the market segments you're going after and target them. Go local cons and events. Partner with complementary businesses. For example, partner with local business that specialize in modern hardware to get the best cross section of people interested in old and new.

As a growth strategy, look to adding more and different consoles, platforms, games. Get a liquor license for adult evening events.
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Old 18 June 2019, 20:15   #7
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I have no idea what i would want from a physical computer shop.
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Old 21 June 2019, 17:07   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puggsy View Post
I don't know how it is where you live, but I think in general, retail as a whole is dying out, so it doesn't seem like there's space for anyone but the mega corporations and billionaire companies.
I saw an episode of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown not too long ago where this Asian dude had made it his life's mission to take photographs of small shops, restaurants and street vendors in the bigger cities to preserve the memory and the look and feel of them. Most places he had taken photographs of had already disappeared.

Pretty heartbreaking stuff.
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Old 21 June 2019, 17:35   #9
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What's a shop?

I can't remember the last time I went into any shop tbh. You can pretty much buy anything and do everything online. With business rates and rents I can't see how any retail outlet can survive on the high street nowadays?

Besides, technology is already making an impact on the high street. Banks and supermarkets are increasing self-service without the need to interact with another human as is petrol stations. In the next 50 years or less, humans will be surplus to requirements, if and when driver-less really takes over.

Where I live, the local council is already discussing solutions to develop a dying high street for the future, where retail isn't even being taken into account because they see residential areas as the answer, and retail on business parks out of town..
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Old 22 June 2019, 14:48   #10
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I still prefer to use shops whenever possible because some things just cannot be adequately displayed or examined on a computer. I'd hope that eventually someone will use their imagination perhaps and get a group together to split the costs on a warehouse type location inside which they not only store their goods for their online business but also maintain a small booth like a flea market so that those who prefer to speak to humans and handle the product can go there to do so. It wouldn't take much to arrange something similar.
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Old 24 June 2019, 14:36   #11
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What's a shop?
Good question. For one it used to be these places where I went to buy shoes. Now my feet aren't that small, but I never really had much trouble picking out a pair that I liked the looks of and they fit snuggly.

My last two attempts were infuriating. After having visited dozens of shops where they stocked a tiny amount of shoes in my size (all horrible and/or torture devices), I resorted to buying shoes online. I had them the next day, I was lucky that they fit well. I don't think I'll be trying another round in the shops the next time, what a waste of my time and patience.

Computer stuff... I can easily do all that online. Depending on what I order I do like to physically pick it up myself though, don't get me started on transport services. I'll travel a few hours if I have to.
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Old 24 June 2019, 14:47   #12
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Computer shops are still very common in Australia. Prices can be almost as good as online, and you get what you want immediately. Why wouldn't you go there?
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Old 24 June 2019, 16:27   #13
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Here in Paris/France there are still lots of computer shops too like you in Australia

Once around year 2000 there was a big hypermarket for computers stuff (called Surcouf) but soon lots of independants chinese little shops begin to appeared around it with better prices
Then the hypermarket close down but the chinese shops are still here: in fact now all the shops are now only in a single street facing the metro station: it is Rue Montgallet
(Googlize for Rue Montgallet,Paris)

We have a comparator at
https://www.rue-montgallet.com/
so can find the best/price availability so only need to go with the metro and you get your stuff in 1 hour

The shop where I have first seen an Amiga 1000 still exists at Paris too but now it sold mangas, consoles, anime figurines, etc...
(Googlize for Mangarake,Paris)
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Old 25 June 2019, 02:55   #14
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smart retailers do both, so if they close the shopfront one day they will still exist.
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Old 25 June 2019, 10:39   #15
005AGIMA
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To add to my own thread, here in Perth maybe I miss-read the situation.

While there are the generic "chain" franchise stores that shift boxes and know very little about them, there is also a robust selection of independent computer shops.

No they dont deal in retro, but they do deal in bespoke computer hardware, in both brick and morter shops, and online.

The most prominent actually specializes in Gaming PC's and has thrived for years.
https://www.ple.com.au/

They have several stores around Perth, but they're still an "Indie" just owning several shops. They're not owned by anyone else.

I've not stepped inside an actual store for years, but a friend at work has, and says it's excellent, with machines set up to play with, hardware in stock, and people who know what they're talking about behind the counter.
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Old 08 July 2019, 04:23   #16
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Brick and mortar is dying in general in larger cities due to a bizarre quirk of landlords. Since real estate has gotten so expensive due to housing shortages, they expect brick and mortar to keep up... Except it can't, so rents get raised and shops go out of business, but landlords hold onto the empty boarded-up retail space expected even more rent and thinking they can hold out until the "right" retail customer comes in -- that never does.

Brick and mortar can only come back when there are vacancy laws banning boarded-up storefronts -- in that case landlords will be forced to lower their rents back to what the market can bear.

(This is also why landlords love short-term seasonal rentals where they know the tenant will leave quickly, for things like Halloween shops. In their mind it's a stopgap until their white horse business that can afford to pay their exorbitant rent arrives.)
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Old 08 July 2019, 10:34   #17
005AGIMA
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Brick and mortar is dying in general in larger cities due to a bizarre quirk of landlords. Since real estate has gotten so expensive due to housing shortages, they expect brick and mortar to keep up... Except it can't, so rents get raised and shops go out of business, but landlords hold onto the empty boarded-up retail space expected even more rent and thinking they can hold out until the "right" retail customer comes in -- that never does.

Brick and mortar can only come back when there are vacancy laws banning boarded-up storefronts -- in that case landlords will be forced to lower their rents back to what the market can bear.

(This is also why landlords love short-term seasonal rentals where they know the tenant will leave quickly, for things like Halloween shops. In their mind it's a stopgap until their white horse business that can afford to pay their exorbitant rent arrives.)
That's been my theory for a while now too. Especially in "Malls".

Every time I visit my home town of Tunbridge Wells, I actually find it quite emotional seeing the once new and great "Royal Victoria Place", opened by Princess Diana no less, when I was a teen, and a project my brother was involved in building (as a tradesman), now sitting with so many empty shops. Those that are populated are shitty pound shops or fly-by-nighters, some of which have taken up space left void by fallen giants like Woolworths or BHS.

It's quite disturbing.

The only one that brings a smile to my face is seeing GAME empty, coz those fkrs sacked me from my dream job, after only 2 weeks, back when I was ~19 lol.

I'm not one to hold a grudge. But when I do, I hold a BIG ONE!
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Old 08 July 2019, 12:11   #18
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Shopping online is fine and all that, but there is something nice about being able to pick something up, examine it, and take it home with you. I tend to do a bit of both - when I'm buying generic parts that I don't care about and I'm not in a hurry for, I'll buy them online. I like browsing physical shops though, and occasionally I'll buy something on a whim (typically books, games, music or clothes), even though I know I can probably get it cheaper online.

What I do like to see is the appearance of retro-specific shops. They're popping up occasionally, thanks to the current nostalgia boom. There's one in particular in Dublin which has been going well for a few years now. Yes, you can buy the games they have cheaper online if you scour eBay and forums and all that, but there's something very nice about being able to browse through hundreds of SNES, Megadrive, Gamecube etc. games in person, so you can see the exact condition of the game, box, manual etc. before you buy it, and relive the experience of your childhood, taking your new game home, reading the manual on the train and playing it as soon as you get in the door. Shops like that, I hope, will continue to appear and do well for years to come.
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Old 08 July 2019, 15:52   #19
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There is 1 retro shop I know of in Belfast and shame on me I haven't been in for a long time. Its a very small shop and has to be so to keep rent down yet allow him to turn a profit.

The days of the big retail computer shop are numbered and its plain to see that with PC World merging into the same unit as Currys. I've seen a few small "laptop repair centres" pop up but most quickly close again as computers like anything have become a consumable commodity. Once its broken just bin it and buy another. Any time I'm at the local recycling centre the electronics skip is usually full of laptops and computers.

Online retail is the way the world works these days. Outside of computer sales its effecting the entire high street with retailers struggling to compete. Yes its nice to go look in a shop but shops carry additional costs (rent, staff, utilities) that add onto the price. Online sales don't have this worry just as much so can sell stuff cheaper. The supermarkets aren't affected as much as people want their bread and milk today but they are willing to wait to tomorrow for most other things to be delivered and unfortunately the computer market falls into that category.
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Old 09 July 2019, 04:43   #20
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Despite Steam's best efforts, I occasionally am able to find a better deal at a traditional retail store.

Also, there's something about owning a "real" copy of game (with cover art) that digital just can't ever replace. It seems like I care or value a game less if it doesn't take pride in being displayed on a shelf.
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