Opinion Other

BT Games' brand-new concept store is a giant step up

BT Games visit.jpg

Last week, we reported that South Africa’s biggest videogame retailer, BT Games, opened up its first, brand-new store in Port Elizabeth. As it turns out, I live about 40 minutes away from the new store, so this weekend was the perfect opportunity to go and check it out, to see if it is really a big step up from their old stores.

Location, location, location

The old store was in Walmer shopping centre and it was extremely small. To make matters worse, Walmer didn’t have enough parking during busy times on the side where BT Games used to be, which meant going at a busy time to pick up that game you wanted could be a real hassle.

Fortunately, Baywest is a massive mall with tonnes of parking, so getting there comfortably was already a plus for the new store. I know some people don’t care about parking hassles or traffic, but it is a big deal for me. Walking into Baywest Mall, I only knew that it was somewhere in the massive shopping space and unfortunately, the store helper stations weren’t updated quite yet, not all of them.

After a bit of searching, I found the BT Games store very close to the cinema and I was instantly impressed.

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The store and the merch

The new logo was proudly displayed above the store entrance and even from a distance, I could see the slick, modern new design. The store was filled with people of all ages and it looked fantastic, with a big screen showcasing some games behind the counter.

It was a wonderful, exhilarating experience for me, especially in Port Elizabeth, to walk into a store where you could just feel the passion of both the shoppers and employees. One thing is certain: this is the type of store gamers deserve.

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The store is filled to the brim with merchandise, but the first thing that caught my eye was the big Far Cry 5 poster, which is one of our must-play games of March, hanging off to the side. You can pre-order the game in-store and also pick up some awesome t-shirts or caps. Speaking of t-shirts, the store had a variety of sizes and colours for all their merch, which was nice as I could find a lot of things that fit me perfectly. It’s not only merch from upcoming games, but older, popular titles as well.

There are some cool The Witcher, Overwatch, Mario and more merch to take a closer look at. If I wasn’t on a budget, I would have grabbed the Overwatch wallet as well, because it is such a quality product and the asking price is less than most wallets I see in other stores. Then, we even have some socks, keychains and guess what, a tonne of games on special as well. However, the best of all was the Mario themed girl's dress and backpack, which is simply amazing.

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It was also the first time I saw a Nintendo Switch in real life and you could purchase every accessory you would ever need for the console. If that wasn’t your speed, there were also some great deals on other console bundles. My only issue with the store is that with the merchandise and all the games, it still felt a little small. The store is long, but very narrow still. Thankfully, every inch of the space is well utilized, leaving enough room for shoppers to walk past each other without too much hassle.

The wonderful staff complete the experience

Sure, the store looks great and the merch is awesome, but what really takes the experience to the next level is the wonderful staff and the whole vibe they give off. Before asking to take photos for this article, I wanted to know how the staff treats their customers and pulled my best ninja moves to remain undetected, listening in to the staff answering questions to parents, kids and even seasoned gamers.

The staff didn’t just stand behind a counter, no, they were active on the floor the whole time talking to everyone. They explained things in detail to parents whose kids were so excited to be in the store and wanted everything they could get their hands on. Seasoned gamers could talk to the staff and discuss just about everything gaming related and you could see just how knowledgeable the staff is.

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Sure, the guy on the left doesn't look very friendly but talk to him about games and he lights up like a Christmas tree.

One thing was extremely clear. The staff in the new BT Games store know what they are talking about and no matter if you are a newbie or a veteran, they can help you with any queries you have. They were so active that it took awhile just to get all three of them together for the photo above, which was a good sign that they take very good care of their customers.  

Everything considered the new BT Games store is what gamers deserve. BT Games is no longer a place where I just want to run into, grab the copy I ordered and run out. It is a store that I want to visit on a regular basis because the atmosphere and the wonderful staff made this gamer feel right at home.

Sure, the store is still a bit small and I didn’t get the headset I wanted, but I saw so many people walk out with a packet in their hand, smiling from ear-to-ear that it was well worth the trip. Hopefully, every town will have a shiny new BT Games store in the future, because it will be a lovely place for gamers to visit.

Did you visit BT Games’ new concept store in Port Elizabeth this weekend and what do you think about the new experience? Let us know in the comment section below.

Please note: The photos in this article was taken with the staff’s permission.

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"this is the type of store gamers deserve"

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