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Moonshine Gaming

Step into the world of retro gaming at Moonshine Gaming, a haven for gaming enthusiasts of all ages. Owned by Chris Dupuis, Moonshine Gaming is more than just a shop – it’s a nostalgic journey through the golden era of gaming.

With over a decade of experience, Moonshine Gaming has recently opened its doors in New Toronto, offering a treasure trove of retro gaming delights. The shop’s ambiance is as welcoming as it is cool, featuring a fantastic mural with video game icons from multiple eras and tons of arcade machines you can play.

Offering a diverse selection of classic and current video games, consoles, and accessories, all rigorously tested to ensure a flawless gaming experience. From Atari to PlayStation 5, find vintage consoles, explore gaming collectibles, and complete your setup with a range of accessories.

Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Chris to discuss Moonshine Gaming and its genesis (pun intended), as well as what makes them successful and unique.

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Q: Can you tell us about the origins of your business? Was there a pivotal moment or experience in your life that inspired or influenced your decision to start this business?

A: I’ve been a video game collector pretty much my whole life. I used to be a full-time DJ for 10 years before I went into this full-time. But the way that I would collect on a budget was I’d buy in bulk and I would sell all the stuff off that I already had and then I’d be able to keep the stuff that I didn’t, essentially just adding it for free by selling off the other stuff. But it was always kind of a thing on the side. And I was also selling a bit on the side when I was DJing because I had a lot of days off because I was working nights. But then COVID hit, all the bars shut down, and then I started doing this online full-time, and continued to do it online full-time up until about four months ago. It was a weird transition because you go from DJing, right? Where you’re hanging out with hundreds, thousands of people at night to working from home and seeing nobody at all. I’m a social butterfly and I got really, really in a bad place mentally because I wasn’t getting the social interaction as I’m sure a lot of people were with COVID. But I said, okay, I can open a store and then get that social aspect back and that’s when I decided to do the storefront.

Moonshine Gaming

2775 LAKE SHORE BLVD WEST (NEW TORONTO)

MON-TUES: CLOSED
WED-FRI: 11 am-7:00 pm
SAT-SUN: 10 am-6:00 pm

Q: Could you describe a typical day running your business?

A:  It kind of depends on the day. I work every day, even when we’re closed. I have to do behind the scenes stuff. We have an online store, so I sell a lot of stuff online. And the way the business model is for me, at least coming into this, I knew that my online sales would break even and then everything in store was the profit. So it wasn’t like I was just coming into this blind. As a lot of people do with new businesses. But the online aspect is still thriving, so I’m having to ship like three days a week. If it’s a Monday, Wednesday or Friday, I have to come in early, pack like 20 to 40 packages, ship them, then come back and work 11 to 7. We’re closed Monday, Tuesday, but on Monday, Tuesday, I’m normally trying to find inventory. A lot of inventory comes into the store. People trading it in, bringing it in, selling it. But I still like to look elsewhere because it’s not always really good stuff that’s coming in. So on Monday, Tuesday, I’ll be trying to source inventory elsewhere.

Q: Have your life experiences and skills played a role in your business and the success it is today?

A: I would say yes. The DJing as far as being social and being comfortable talking to people was definitely a help. I used to be a competitive athlete too, so I have a competitive mindset to be the best. I used to be, when I was a junior, ranked number one in Canada for badminton.

I also played other competitive sports, football, volleyball, soccer. But badminton was kind of like the top one of the four that I played. So being a competitive athlete, you have to have the mindset to be the best if you’re competitive at it.

Being goal-oriented, social and being competitive, I guess.

Q: How do you engage with the local community?

A: So we’re still pretty new. Kind of getting our feet on the ground and getting comfortable in the space. We might host retro tournaments here in the back. We have a big open space and we want to start running stuff back there. But that’ll be in like a couple months once I have another employee. I’m hoping to have one within the next month, at least part time. That could lead to full time.

Moonshine Gaming

Q: How do you use social media and online platforms?

A: We actually grew our social media presence prior. I started taking social media very seriously when COVID started because it’s such an integral part of business these days. You have to have a social media following. So, yeah, we grew our Instagram page to like 50,000, TikTok to 100,000 and YouTube.  We’re the most active on Instagram.

You can never be too busy to post content because if you say you’re too busy to post content, just film what you’re already doing and then post it as content. If you’re a small business owner, people find that interesting, right? Cause it’s something that they’re not used to. So one of the things that blew my channel up was I bought out a closed down video game store, one that had closed down because of COVID. And I documented breaking even on the buy and I posted like every two days and it was like a ticker of how far in the red we were. So that was a video that blew up the channel a little bit. Another thing is giving something to the person who’s watching, not just showing stuff off, providing value in your content is really important. And a lot of people don’t realize that. For example, I would show people valuable pieces and their worth so if they want to go and find it in the wild and sell it, then now they know what something is worth because they watch my content. Another thing was showing cool Easter eggs in video games. So people find that interesting and they can go try that at home. So, its providing value for the watcher that is super important.

Q: What advice would you give to somebody looking to start their own community based business?

A: Well, we pivoted our social media 60 days prior to opening, we did a daily vlog of opening the store and doing it in 60 days. So instead of paying for marketing, we just pushed that content out across all our social media and that acted as our marketing and I was able to save money by not spending money on marketing. I guess customer service is probably the most important thing, obviously. So it’s just making sure that everybody has a good experience when they come into your store, if it’s a store, or even if it’s an online store, just having a good experience and having good customer service. If anyone has any issues, dealing with it professionally.

Q: What keeps you going and what’s inspiring you to grow?

A: We’re planning to open another store within the next two years. The idea is to hire someone to manage that store while I focus on opening an additional location. Once the new store is up and running smoothly, I’ll return to oversee operations here. As far as inspiration, I’m really a numbers person. So if I see good profits and rising profits, that’s important to me. Also, getting young people involved in retro is really cool. There’s a couple schools around here and I’ve been able to see that firsthand and there’s nothing cooler than seeing young kids get into retro games. So, yeah, that’s pretty inspiring too!

Q: What lessons have you learned on this journey?

A: If you’re starting a brick and mortar, double what you expect to pay as opening costs. Physical locations are expensive. I thought I had budgeted, I already had all the inventory. So I was like, okay, this isn’t going to be expensive at all. I buy a couple of cabinets. I pay for a sign, Bob’s your uncle, right? But I budgeted $12,000 as the startup cost and it ended up costing me like $25,000.

Nothing is ever what you think it’s going to be.

And back to what I said before, having really good customer service, everything always comes back to having good customer service.

Q: Can you share a fun or surprising fact about yourself that people might not know?

A: I was number one in Canada for Badminton when I was a junior, youth 16.

Q: If you could magically transport your business anywhere in the world for a day, where would you choose and why?

A: Right here!  I live like a 5 min drive, 20 min walk away. I really do like it in this area and it’s growing and it’s gentrifying. The young people are coming in. So I think I got in at the right time.

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