I’m a bibliophile–I love books and I love to read. My first job was at a bookstore that is sadly no longer in business. Even though they were a bookstore, they lost their focus. Management got too involved in selling the store’s loyalty card rather than the books themselves. I only mention it because of the things that I’m hearing via social media that indicate GameStop may be following the same self-destructive path.
When I was a customer at Waldenbooks, their loyalty card seemed like an okay trade-off. Ten dollars per year and a percentage off your purchase (I believe it was 10%, but I could be misremembering). I think it only applied to books and not magazines which wasn’t ideal for me as I often bought books and magazines together. It didn’t give me a huge benefit, but it didn’t take away too much either.
Yet, when I got my first job there it seemed that the focus was less on selling books and more on selling the card. When the “Mystery Shopper” came and graded us, they were looking for whether or not we sold them the card–that was the “make or break” score and could push an above average encounter down to an average or below average and vice versa.
Much the same is happening in GameStop today. I’ve found that I am pre-ordering games through Amazon.com these days for their discount and the fact that I don’t have to be sold on ThinkGeek merchandise or the GameStop loyalty card. I don’t enjoy Borders Bookstore because they cater less to bibliophiles than to people who like the communal nature of the “bistro”-type atmosphere. I’ve learned from hard experience that it is dangerous for stores to stray too far from their base products. I’m worried that GameStop (& to a lesser extent, Borders) haven’t learned that lesson.