Adrian’s current addiction is one we’d all love if we had the budget. He caught up with The Retro Store founder Peter Donoghue to find out what inspired the random-box subscription site and what kind of gamer he is. I’ve also spliced in some of Adrian’s unboxing vids for your pleasure. To catch the rest, please subscribe to our Youtube channel.
Have you always been interested in retro games and when did you first realise there was such huge demand for retro goods?
Growing up, I got into records to begin with due to my Dads great taste in music. ELO’s Out of the Blue’s album art was one of the most mesmerizing things I had ever seen, and the music wasn’t all that bad either!
I grew up playing mainly Game Boy and PS1, which in 2017 is considered retro! To begin with, I just wanted to sell the stuff I found cool, but as I delved into the world of NES and Mega Drive, I ended up loving those even more!
The demand was certainly apparent through Twitter, the massive community over there has taught me so much on the mindsets, the do’s and dont’s (people don’t like sports games, but I do!) and a whole bunch of great jokes.
What inspired you to create The Retro Store?
The Retro Store was born as a site to help me get into university. It worked! I graduated a few months ago, with a completely transformed site in tow. The Retro started out as a university project, with myself and a few friends just writing about albums we liked, games we played, and a whole bunch of other things we don’t cover as much now, like TV shows and art!
Can you briefly run through how The Retro Store and its mystery element works for our readers?
Of course! At The Retro Store, we try our very best to hand pick the best games for our customers. Some will tell us specific genres they like, some will even send us what they have already, which definitely helps.
From there, we look at what games we enjoy, what games we think the customer will enjoy based on previous feedback, and we get the boxes all packed up, and sent out. Hopefully the customers receive them in one piece!
You also sell comics, vinyl records and cassettes. Are your mystery gaming boxes the most popular amongst your customers?
It’s definitely a 50/50 between vinyl and gaming boxes. However the engagement with the gaming community is so much higher at the moment, which means the pressure for great boxes is higher. It’s fun being held accountable to your work, and makes sure every customer gets a box we would be proud to play!
How do you actually source your retro games from suppliers and has this caused any issues with shipping?
Any retro gaming enthusiast will know that it’s a dog eat dog world in the buying of games! With no official supply chain, we do a lot to find awesome games, and even more to get them at the right price so there’s a little bit of money at the end to pay ourselves for the work!
We have recently launched an open page for selling stuff to us. It’s a totally different demographic from the buyers, which is why not many people have seen it yet! https://theretro.co.uk/sell-your-stuff
As a current customer I feel half the fun of receiving your mystery gaming boxes is the initial excitement of opening the box. Do you feel this added excitement is the main reason customers love your business idea?
I definitely think the concoction of nostalgia, discovery, and the physical product getting delivered to your door is an amazing feeling. From the “your box is on the way” email, right to plugging in the game you’ve never played. It’s a real experience, and definitely plays into why the subscription is so popular versus one off boxes.
Your mystery game boxes currently cost £20 and contain 3 random games across a number of popular platforms. Do you have any particular strategy of filling each box or is it completely random your end?
Again the mystery element is defined purely from any requests from the customer, which we try to adhere to as much as possible! Otherwise, we try to keep the games to have separate genres, consoles and developers, which keeps us on our toes. And then there’s the truly subjective test of “how would I feel with this box”., which is always fun!
Have you ever come across any particularly rare video games when shipping boxes?
Of course! Sadly they don’t seem to be in the business of public social media or YouTube videos, or we would be sharing those everywhere!
Back when we started, our NES and SNES gaming range was immense. Sadly now the prices have skyrocketed, and has caused some really long delays, which really disappoints us, and we’re working to fix ASAP.
The Retro Store seems to have really struck a chord with customers. Why do you think the business has grown so quickly and what are your goals for the future?
From where we started, it’s definitely grown quickly, but we want to expand even more, which will allow us to have more buying power, which in tow should come with an even better range of games!
We recently launched our student discount, so any students, jump on that! https://theretro.co.uk/students
Going forward, we launched Retro Rewards, which allows customers to accumulate points (with every box renewal too). Customers get 10% off on their birthday, and we’ll be relaunching our gifts section soon so these points will be ready to spend there!
I can also exclusively reveal to you that we’re looking to create some amazing retro gaming starter packs, which come with a console, a box, and a few other exciting goodies!
Are you a gamer yourself and if so, what is your favourite console and video game of all time?
I’m an extremely vanilla gamer, with my main diet being FIFA and Rocket League at 1AM when I finally finish working! Growing up, Dr Mario and Crash Bandicoot were my favourites, and I get very attached to those games/boxes when sending them out to customers!
If you could share a few drinks with a video game character who would you choose and why?
Duke Nukem for sure. I’d sit and drink rum with him and try to get him to say as many famous phrases as possible!
Sounds like a great night to us – you could catch up with our mate Jon St. John! Thanks for a great insight Peter, we wish you all the best with the business! Readers, please visit The Retro Store for those great subscriptions!