Holiday shopping tips! Where & how to shop for gamers
There are so many stores that cater to gamers nowadays, whether it's a GameStop that is entirely catered to gamers or a Walmart or Target where there's an electronic section with games and merchandise. But what store should you be shopping at for that special gamer in your life? There are some simple steps you can take to ensure you are shopping at the right place.
1. Figure out what games he or she likes
You're going to want to snoop through your gamer's video game interests. Figure out what games they like, which ones they don't, what consoles they're into, and what genres they like.
If the gamer is your child, you probably already know what they like and what they don't as, you're probably responsible for buying the games they already have. If for whatever reason you don't know what they're into, as a parent, feel free to snoop through their video game stash a bit. Look at what games they have and what games they don't. Take note of those, so you have a better idea of what to buy later.
If you don't know what to get your gamer, just ask! Many people appreciate the forwardness and consideration!
If the gamer is on the older side and you cannot just snoop through their room, just ask them what games they're into. There's no reason to beat around the bush, and a lot of people appreciate when you just ask them what you want instead of guessing constantly.
Figure out what merchandise they have for the game
While finding out the information you need to know for the first step, be sure to figure out what merchandise they have for their favorite games; you don't want to get them something they already have, after all!
Not only will this information help you identify what type of merchandise they like, it will help you determine what type(s) of merchandise they have the most of so you can try to pick something similar. If they have a lot of video game shirts, chances are they like shirts. If they have lots board game renditions, then they like board games.
2. Do some research
Now that you know what games they like and what types of merchandise they have, you need to find items that fit what your gamer is looking for.
Take into account the age and popularity of the game
You don't want to try and find merchandise in-store for an unpopular game!
A quick Google search can help you determine how old the game you're shopping for is, and how popular it is. This is important because it will help determine where you need to look for merchandise; it will be extremely difficult to find merchandise in-store for an unpopular game.
If you're having trouble figuring out the popularity of a game, find a review for the game and see its score. Games with higher scores tend to be more popular than games with lower scores. If you decide to go the review route, check multiple reviews though. Some reviews are vastly different and it'll be a good idea to get an average score rather than just take one reviewer for granted. (We have plenty reviews here on GameSkinny too, so feel free to check those out)!
For example, some older games are still very popular (i.e Minecraft), so it is still really easy to find merchandise for those games both in-store and online. On the contrary, some newer games are very unpopular, so finding merchandise will be a little harder.
Here are some quick tips:
- If the game is popular, you should be able to find merchandise both in-store and online.
- If the game is moderately popular, online will probably be your best bet, but you may still be able to find items in-store.
- If the game isn't very popular, don't even bother to look in-store.
3. Get shopping!
So now you know whether to shop online, in-store, or both for your gamer, but which stores or websites are best for gaming merchandise?
GameStop tends to have merchandise for more modern games so they can promote the latest titles. For instance, if you were to walk into GameStop right now, there would be a lot of Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, and Halo 5: Guardians merchandise. since those have come out very recently.
However, some GameStops do have some extra merchandise here and there for more popular games, despite their age. There's usually a decent amount of Minecraft merchandise scattered around GameStops. There are also some board games inspired by their video game counterparts. For example, last time I walked into GameStop, I saw a Mass Effect Monopoly.
Don't forget GameStop also has an online store with some extra options.
Target, Walmart, etc.
Retail stores such as these tend to stick with small figurines for the most recent games, such as Jacob and Evie Frye from Assassin's Creed: Syndicate.
If they have anything bigger, it tends to be designated towards children's games. For example, the Minecraft section tends to be full of merchandise - including pick-axes, figurines, and sometimes even masks. Popular games such as this one also have shirts in the children's sections.
Some of the more popular games they have lots of merchandise for are:
These stores do carry all of the most recent games too, so, if your gamer is looking for a game, these stores will work for you as well.
Loot Crate is a great resource for gamers, because it has varying themes each month. If you see one you like, you can snatch it up, or you can buy a variety of subscriptions from a couple of months, to a whole year.
So if your gamer is into variety, some rare items, and is a little geeky/nerdy as well, Loot Crate could be perfect for them.
Loot Crate can also be very good for ideas as well. If you scroll through some of the recent themes, you may find something that you want to buy. For instance, October's theme was "time," which included everything from Back to the Future to Doctor Who to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
November's theme is "combat", if that sounds appealing to you or the gamer you're shopping for!
Developer's Online Store
Every game has a developer, and those developers tend to have some unique merchandise available for their games all the time, despite how old the game may be.
If you're having trouble finding an online store, go to Google, and type in the company's name and "store." The first link will most likely be the one you want.
eBay, Amazon, and other second-hand shops
Sometimes there are some very good items available on websites such as Amazon. Sometimes they're rare items and sometimes they're just very good deals.
You have to be careful with some of these websites though, particularly eBay. While these websites are very useful for getting items, especially discontinued ones, some people will lie about the quality of the item to get you to buy.
So, if you decide to order off one of these websites, keep these hints in mind:
- Make sure there is a refund or exchange option for whatever item you buy.
- Check the lister's rating; if it's not high, don't chance it!
- Read the full description for the item. Sometimes there will be hidden pieces of information that you need to know!
4. Check for deals!
A lot of these stores and websites carry the same items, so you should check to see for deals and sales to see what is available and what isn't. This is particularly important with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and general holiday deals coming up in the next month.
You know all of those annoying advertisements you get in the mail that you usually trash instantly? DON'T!
Those flyers often detail some really good sales or deals that you should keep in mind when selecting which store to shop at.
These advertisements can often be found in store too. GameStop usually has them right next to the cashiers.
Target, Walmart, and other retail stores usually keep them at customer service.
However, if you can't find the paper deals in-store, feel free to ask an associate! Most stores have their deals written out on paper, even if they don't publicly display them, so take advantage of your asking power!
The websites I listed above often have a convenient sales tab, or deals listed on the home page that you should keep in mind.
For instance, for this month, Walmart is adding ten new deals each day. While these are not guaranteed to be gaming related, it's still good to keep in mind.
If multiple places have an item you are looking for, it can be both online or in-store, compare the prices from the multiple outlets!
- Make a chart with the various prices, so you can compare visually
- Websites such as Walmart have a compare price tab
- Write out the pros and cons of buying from one outlet instead of another
Don't forget to add the cost of shipping if ordering online!
If you're running short on time and are looking online, you're going to have to keep shipping time in mind, especially if you're buying something out of country. If you decide to ship it overnight or within two or three days, that's going to cost you a bit of extra money, which you are going to need to take into consideration!
Don't forget to get a head start on shopping as well! The best presents are rarely ones that are chosen last minute in a desperate attempt to get something. Take your time and start shopping now. It will give you more time to look, so you pick out a better present, and it will give you the chance to buy the present and get it to your home, particularly if you have to wait for it to ship.
Have fun shopping!
At this point, you probably have an idea of where you want to shop, and you may or may not already have a gift idea in mind. So get shopping! The holiday season has begun, deals are on the loose, and items are flying fast!
Do you have any other helpful hints for picking a store in which to shop at this holiday season? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! Don't forget to check out our other gamer gift guides for this holiday season as well!