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January 2015, Geoff, Jane & their three adult children returned to New Zealand, needing a change of direction. At that time, Geoff became involved in a nationwide campaign to paint miniatures for a display of Chunuk Bair (orchestrated for Peter Jackson’s Great War Exhibition). Much to his disappointment, the local stores and even those in Auckland had extremely small ranges of hobby paint. In the midst of that search came the realisation that the availability of board games and jigsaw puzzles in Hamilton was also extremely lacking. Especially compared to what Geoff & Jane had seen in other shops around the world. It was then the decision was made to establish the very BEST game shop that they could… and Game Centre is the result.
Finding the perfect spot, in the quiet streets of Hamilton city.
At the epicentre of Hamilton, in a space that had been vacant for 2 and a half years, they started the dream of a shop from concrete and wires upwards. At the beginning, the store stocked mainly what Geoff & Jane had really liked in terms of games/miniatures, and what their family enjoyed. At this point, not knowing the reception the store would receive upon opening its doors to the public, there was uncertainty about whether the dream would succeed. They wanted a shop in which people would be able to relax, and feel a warm welcome. They always wanted a shop that was family/community oriented, so anyone could enjoy a brief (or long!) visit.
The store’s enormous range of products is thanks to you.
One of the hallmarks that was aimed for, was a shop that was responsive to customer needs. So, when the community told them what they wanted, they would work hard to source it for them. As a result, the store ended up with products no-one else had in Hamilton! To this day, they maintain this mentality. At times it can be very difficult to find exactly what’s requested, or the shipping is too high (New Zealand’s distance is a constant challenge!), but the challenge is always taken up by the team in store to make it happen if they can.
It was time to expand and knock down a wall or two!
Only a year into operation, with the store well received by Hamiltonians, the property next door went up for sale. It was too tempting, so the decision to expand was taken up, and it was purchased by Geoff & Jane. To some, it seemed this expansion made sense with the popularity of Game Centre steadily growing, but it was actually pure insanity. All the profit from the store went into knocking down walls and building the mezzanine to house the
then dubbed ‘Captain’s Cabin’, which is now fondly known as the Games Room. This made it possible to run events, group painting and more, as the community focus grew even more.
The shop was getting busier, and more hands were needed on deck.
Geoff & Jane made the decision to bring others onto the team outside of the family, one of which was Lady Julia in early 2018. They thought her cheery disposition, painting skills and game knowledge would be a brilliant complement to the customer service provided by the shop. Since then, she has become the social media/event organiser for Game Centre, and has often been seen at Game Centre Pop Up Shops at various community events.
Fast becoming a destination, many came from out of town to visit Game Centre.
The store now stocks the biggest range of products of varying brands that would make anybody dizzy! This also means that some brands that people personally love are missing, but many other brands are covered by other stores locally. The team is happy to support other local businesses, gladly sending people their way to get their items if they know where to source it. In store however, more and more people visiting them mentioned a need for a store like Game Centre in their local town.
Of course, competition is out there, but Game Centre has held their own.
As they progressed, the focus was not only on availability but also on pricing. Being a brick and mortar, there was competition with many bigger online organisations, that marvelled at how well a little local store was doing! Since the physical store was firmly established, in late 2019, decisions were already made to work on an online store. The aim was to reach those that were further afield, and loved the store and it’s products. The team have come up against many obstacles along the road to making this website a reality, but have persisted! It is Geoff & Jane’s hope that it will give a similar joy, as it does to those that physically visit the store in the heart of Hamilton.
The fun starts here!