GameStop has opened the first European flagship store for its Zing Pop Culture collectibles chain, allowing science-fiction fans to collect toys and memorabilia from their favourite video games, books, movies and TV shows.
As Niall Lawlor, director of GameStop northern Europe, puts it, a lot of the gamers have grown up: from the teens in the ’90s playing console and PC games to grown-ups today who still feel a pang of nostalgia for the pop culture that accompanied their favourite games, movies and shows.
Not only that, but there is the entire new generation of sci-fi fans eagerly awaiting the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, and who avidly follow shows like Game of Thrones or are hardcore Marvel fans.
Until now, much of this memorabilia could be found at events like Comic-Con or online, but now the former GameStop store on Henry Street in Dublin will be a veritable Aladdin’s cave or Disney Store for geeks to buy everything from toys to books and actual outfits.
Zing Pop Culture has until now been a section within GameStop’s 50 stores around Ireland and is something that has evolved from Australia, where it is a store chain in its own right.
GameStop is diversifying
The move is part of GameStop’s plan to diversify from a pure-play games retailer into something bigger. In June, GameStop acquired ThinkGeek for US$140m, a strong signal of intent.
“Zing Pop Culture is something of an evolution within GameStop,” explained Lawler. “We’ve had it as a category for some time and there has been a long history of GameStop selling collectibles with games like Halo, Grand Theft Auto and many more.
“We noticed this area gaining a lot of traction as the years went by as fans started with t-shirts and mugs and started buying more and more toys. We started with a standalone proposition in Australia and it went very well for us.”
‘This store will be the first in Europe and the idea would be to roll out the brand across the country and across Europe’
– NIALL LAWLOR
The new store will employ five people full-time and GameStop is hiring two full-time buyers to work at head office in north Dublin to focus on the Zing Pop Culture store.
Lawlor said that the Dublin store could be the forerunner for a chain of stores throughout Ireland and Europe.
“We’re going to start with Henry Street and we will probably open one in Cork as well. If you go into a typical GameStop now you will see the Zing range of products, everything from bobble heads to other forms of memorabilia.”
Christmas is coming
He said the new store will carry up to 200 to 300 collectibles. “We will be appealing to a broad range of fans, from kids to grown-up kids. For example, while we’ve grown up with gamers ourselves, there are genuine Dr Who fans who have been following the show since 1963.
“We’re making it easier for people to touch and feel the products.
“While GameStop appeals to core gamers, they also have a lifestyle outside of video games and they would have their favourite movies, TV shows and books too.
“This store will be the first in Europe and the idea would be to roll out the brand across the country and across Europe.
“The idea has broad appeal, there are so many categories and discoveries to be made and, of course, Christmas is coming, Inside Out is trending and Star Wars is also going to be huge this year with the new movie coming and the Star Wars Battlefront game also coming.”
Lawlor revealed that pre-orders for Star Wars Battlefront are climbing exponentially and GameStop has been taking pre-orders for the game for the past six months.
He said that fitting out the new store on Henry Street represents a six-figure investment and said the opening of the new store just days before Dublin Comic Con is a pleasant coincidence.
“We’ll have a Zing Pop Culture stand at Comic Con this weekend and anyone who pops into our Henry Street store on Saturday morning can have breakfast with Darth Vader.”
Sur’ why not?