The idea for Oogie Games, a local chain of video game stores, began with a single gaming system — a broken Nintendo NES that Kevin McMullen bought online, repaired and sold for a profit.
“After that, I started asking my friends for Nintendos, putting ads in the paper and hitting garage sales,” said McMullen, 35, founder and CEO. “I was never a huge gamer, but I found a niche selling games on eBay. I didn’t intend it to become what it did.”
With his eBay sales booming, McMullen opened a booth at the sprawling Super Flea on Walden Avenue and, by 2007, was ready for his first storefront, a 600-square-foot space in Kenmore.
“That was the test — through that lease, I had enough money in savings so that if it didn’t work I could walk away,” he said. “After the first year, my doors were bursting open with product, and the business was growing.”
Since then, Oogie Games has expanded to six storefronts throughout Western New York and has grown to about $3 million in annual sales, McMullen said. Each store is stocked with everything a gamer could need, from new, retro and used consoles, to accessories, games and novelty items.
Ever the entrepreneur, McMullen is always developing new ideas to keep pace with Amazon and other online retailers. Repairs are still a key piece of the operation, as Oogie Games promises a two-to-three-week turnaround for most jobs — something industry giants like Microsoft or Sony can’t compete with. Plus, every store has a private party room decked out with stainless steel countertops, neon lights and several flat-screen televisions, on which guests can play games from the store’s massive library of titles.
“Every retail industry is feeling the impact [of online shopping,] and everybody is shopping differently,” he said. “Our number one priority is customer service, but unfortunately, that doesn’t separate you as much as it used to. So, we’re really trying to provide the services you can’t find online — video game tournaments, kids’ parties, tabletop gaming.”
With all of his success, McMullen also makes it a priority to give back. Oogie Games regularly donates to charity raffles and co-hosts the annual Shredd & Ragan Tecmo Tournament, with proceeds benefitting a different cause each year. McMullen also serves on the Buffalo advisory board for Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“There couldn’t be a better organization to be part of, helping sick kids and making wishes come true,” he said.