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The Scarlet & Black

Gamers offers retro, modern gaming themes

The Gamers storefront in downtown Grinnell. Photo by Takahiro Omura.

Ronnie Ruse

For hardcore Grinnell gamers, there haven’t always been options to buy video games in the local area. Luckily, a couple of years ago, local resident David Counts opened a video game franchise downtown called Gamers.

Gamers buys, sells and trades video games, systems and accessories. In addition, the store also resurfaces disks and sells iPods, iPads and plushies based on popular video game characters. While the store specializes in older consoles and retro games, they have plenty of new games as well. Gamers currently has six employees, including Counts.

“We keep it a tight-knit community,” he said.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Counts moved here three years ago with his wife, Emily Counts, the Tourism Director for the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce. He worked for several different companies in Des Moines, but has always wanted to own his own business.

The Gamers storefront in downtown Grinnell. Photo by Takahiro Omura.
The Gamers storefront in downtown Grinnell. Photo by Takahiro Omura.

“I did the corporate life for a couple years, but it wasn’t really something you could be inspired by,” Counts said.

Counts says that Gamers fills a special niche in the community.

“Because Emily works with the Chamber of Commerce, she was able to identify some of the things that people here were hoping to find. We saw an opportunity,” he continued.

By operating Gamers, Counts combines the needs of the community with his own passion for video games.

“I really enjoy video games,” he said. “I’ve played video games my whole life and it really merged with my idea of owning my own store.”

As any small business owner knows, running a successful business is hard work.

“We weren’t sure if we wanted to start off on our own, or start with somebody else,” Counts said.

The couple finally settled on Gamers, Inc., a corporation based out of Omaha, Neb., and opened their store in Grinnell in June 2014.

Counts also mentioned the college’s relationship to the town and how it affects his business.

“I could always use more college students. I think the hardest thing with the college is it’s kind of isolated from the rest of the town. You guys have everything you need right there on campus.”

Counts went on to dispel myths about the gaming community.

“The gamer as a concept has really expanded over the last few years. It incorporates a lot more people than the typical 18-year-old eating Cheetos in his beanbag chair that people tend to think of when they hear ‘gamer,’” he said jokingly.

According to Counts, the average gamer is a 35-year-old woman playing Candy Crush on her cell phone. At the same time, Counts said it’s hard to describe the average Gamers customer.

“We have people in their 30s, 40s, 50s [shopping here], coming back to play the things they grew up on,” he said. “Also, kids come in with their parents all the time. It’s pretty varied.”

Counts emphasized the store’s retro appeal. Of the older gaming consoles, the most popular is the Nintendo 64.

“It’s new enough that everybody played it, but old enough that not everybody has it anymore,” Counts said.

“A lot of people between the ages of 18 and 30 are in that weird niche where we really want to go back to the things that we enjoyed when we were children. But it’s getting harder and harder to find that kind of stuff,” he added.

The collection of retro gaming consoles give Gamers an edge over the competition.

“You won’t be able to find any GameCube stuff at GameStop or Walmart,” Counts said.

But lest someone think the store is behind the times, Counts said Gamers also stocks perennial favorites like Call of Duty and Madden NFL. From retro to modern, the store has video games for every kind of fan.

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