Today we’d like to introduce you to Charles Mendez.
Charles, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have always been a gamer, video games, board games, card games, all sorts. In college, I started working in a miniatures game shop and really enjoyed the interactions and the relationships I gained with customers. Since this game shop only specialized in one product, I couldn’t expand my knowledge in the gaming industry. An opportunity unfolded when I was relieved of my duties as a store manager. My significant other, Monica, really cheered me on in creating this shop and helped me research business models, product, location, everything to curate a business plan. We bought a road map and mapped out all the game stores in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, along with comic shops, card shops, hobby stores, even video games. Bellflower was looking to be the best fit since it has access to 2 freeways (91 and 605), and demographics were decent for a hobby shop like the Guild House. We called a realtor to look at locations and a month later, we got our keys to our new business! It took us two months to remodel the interior, but it was all worth it!
We opened our doors the first time in May of 2014 and have created a second home to our customers. The Guild House is a community of gamers from all walks of life and it’s beautiful. The store is continually growing because the best way to advertise is through our community. I often run tables for Dungeons and Dragons, paint models for customers, and provide introductions to games that come out on a daily basis. Monica still offers sewing classes, craft events and teaches anyone how to play any board game.
Obstacles / Challenges
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’m thankful that the startup like getting all the paperwork together and the city approving our business wasn’t a nightmare. Gaining the startup capital was smooth, We did have a few setbacks when it came to being broken into and insurance wouldn’t cover it. The damage is always more expensive than what the thieves grab.
In the gaming industry, there are a lot of product that comes out constantly and half the time, we don’t have a reliable way to tell us if it will be popular or it will flop. Each market is unique, for example, I can’t take the word of a game store in New York saying it’s flying off their shelves when I have only sold 1. That is a daily struggle for me and my employees.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The Guild House – what should we know?
The Guild House is essentially a board game shop. There are cards, miniatures, and painting supplies but the focus here is tabletop games. I’m not talking about ping pong or air hockey, those are billiards; we also don’t do video games. We like the social interaction people get when you sit around a table to play a game, with physical pieces, calculating your own stats. Board Gaming is a very niche market considering that the closest category the government labels us is “hobby store.” We get so many calls asking for bibles, motors for RC cars, train tracks, paintball, and video games.
Half the store is retail and half is devoted to actually playing games. We have dining tables, folding chairs, and really tall tables to stand around for the myriad ways of gameplay. In this area, we host daily events, tournaments, campaigns, demonstrations and parties. Our store is quite an uncommon retail experience for our patrons because we have two shop cats that are very friendly. They help fuel the atmosphere in being inviting and homey.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My family were all so supportive and helping me get this idea off the ground. My Abuela, grandmother helped finance my startup costs as well as her daughter, my mother. Monica who has managed and kept me sane through 70 hour work weeks and never letting me give up. To all the customers who walked through the door and became a good friend of mine, thank you.
- Games $5-$300
- Renting Games $5-$12
- Reserving game space FREE
- Address: The Guild House
9958 Artesia Blvd.
Bellflower, CA 90706
- Website: www.theguildhousegames.com
- Phone: 5624612729
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theguildhouse5
- Twitter: @theguildhouse
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-guild-house-bellflower
- Other: The Guild House