JOHNSTOWN – In a case of multiplication, one collectible toy store has resulted in three independent businesses selling toys and games in downtown.
David Warren was one of the founders of the first store, collectible toy store Toying Around, which started out at 12 N. Market Street before moving to a larger location at 17 W. Main St. Originally, Warren operated a smaller collectible video game business inside Toying Around before he split his business -called the Game Guys -into its own store front also at 12 N. Market. Then when Toying Around moved to Main Street, a third toy business called Nay Nays Toys an More moved into its former spot.
Warren said although the three businesses have very different models – Game Guys focused on video games, Toying Around focused on action figures and Nay Nays Toys an More focused on used children’s toys – the foot traffic to each store is complimentary as the businesses have created a kind of collectible toy and game hub in downtown Johnstown.
“Sometimes people looking for my store will go to Toying Around thinking that’s me and vice versa – they’ll come looking to me for stuff they have and I’ll direct them to Toying Around,” he said. “GameStop [in the Johnstown Mall] gives me a lot of referrals too because I carry a lot of the stuff that they don’t carry, so – if they don’t have it – they’ll tell people to go to my shop.”
Warren said he’s been collecting and selling video games for years, first online and then at flea markets before he decided to make a living doing it with a brick and mortar retail store. He said he was inspired by other collectible video game stores in the Capital Region. Warren, who lives in Schenectady, said operating in Johnstown has cost advantages.
“For the same size space [in the Capital Region] that I?have here I’d probably pay double the rent,” he said.
Game Guys features collectible video games from as far back as the Atari game system, and new titles for Xbox One and Playstation 4. Warren said some of the more expensive games he’s sold include Bubble Bobble Part II and Mega Man X3, which both sold for about $250.
“There are some hardcore collectors in the area. As soon as I?got [Bubble Bobble Part II] it was gone in an instant,” he said. “I’ve got people who give me whole lists of games they are looking for, and I’ve got tentacles in the area. I?know other shop owners and people who collect, so I can get these things for them.”?
Although Game Guys does sell some video games through Facebook.com and Craigslist.com, Warren said he thinks owning a physical retail store is key to his success, in part because it allows him to have carry a large inventory of items.
“I have a place where people know they can come and trade their items for other stuff they are looking for or find games that they have been wanting to have since their childhood. When they find a game they want, they are more than willing to trade other games for it, so I build up my inventory that way,” he said.
Janea Ashdown, owner of Nay Nays Toys an More, has a different source for her inventory – storage auctions. Ashdown said she’s been attending storage auctions, similar to the ones depicted on the A&E TV show “Storage Wars,” for years. She said she’s discovered over time that storage sheds often contain children’s toys. In July she decided to open up a retail store as a way of displaying her inventory.
“We focus mainly on kid toys and baby items, but we also have household items, electronics and furniture,” she said.
Ashdown said she recently purchased 10 storage sheds, which has increased her inventory. She said she has also supplied some items to Game Guys and Toying Around.
“My customer is more people buying toys for their children, not the collectors, that’s more Toying Around. I rarely get action figures that are still in the box,” she said. “If I don’t have something, I send people to Game Guys or Toying Around and I’ve given Game Guys a good deal on games I find.”?