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Limited Run Games is opening an ’80s-themed physical game store

The physical game publisher is becoming a physical game retailer

The storefront at Limited Run’s retail store includes a four-tv-screen grid display Image: Limited Run Games
Matt Leone has written about games for three decades, focusing on behind-the-scenes coverage of the industry, including books on Final Fantasy 7 and Street Fighter 2.

Since 2015, Limited Run has made a business out of publishing physical versions of digital games — often by selling them with low print runs directly to customers, rather than putting them into traditional retail distribution. The company does more than that these days, but it’s been a business built around cutting out the middleman, avoiding many of the costs that come with overproducing games, letting them sit on store shelves, and paying a cut to everyone involved in that process.

Now, as the company recently announced, it’s now taking a small step towards becoming that middleman itself by opening a retail store in North Carolina. Intending to open the store in April, Limited Run has been building out a space in the MacGregor Village shopping center in Cary, with an ’80s-themed appearance and an approximately nine-hour custom soundtrack.

With plans for staff picks, midnight launches, and an extensive trading card section, there’s a lot going on here, so we sent Limited Run CEO Josh Fairhurst some questions to find out more.

Polygon: So this is weird, right? What’s your big picture vision for the store?

Josh Fairhurst: We started Limited Run Games back in 2015 because physical media was dying, and it pained us as collectors to see that happening. Something else that has pained us just as long is the death of physical game stores. There [are] certainly stores left, but it’s nothing like the glory days of having a Babbage’s, Software Etc, FuncoLand, and Electronics Boutique in every town. It’s always been a dream to try our hand at a physical store.

The interior of Limited Run’s retail store includes pink neon lighting Image: Limited Run Games

Looking at the photos you’ve posted on Twitter, my first reaction was it looks more like a video store than a game store. That probably has something to do with the shelves being empty, but is that part of the idea?

It’s deliberate, yeah. We’re trying to tap into the nostalgia for the days when physical retail was the only option. Most game stores didn’t really have a super distinctive look (and they still don’t) so we borrowed design queues from ’90s video stores, department stores, and some of the video game concept stores of the day (the Blockbuster game store in Jacksonville, FL being our biggest influence).

How much of the store will be dedicated to Limited Run’s games, and how much will be dedicated to other things — trading cards, games from other publishers, etc?

Roughly 75% of the store will be dedicated to Limited Run’s games and products, while the other 25% will be a mixture of games, vinyl soundtracks, books, trading cards, and merch from other publishers and distributors. We’ll also have a small pre-owned selection in the back featuring customer trade-ins, both modern and retro.

What’s been the biggest surprise in getting the store ready?

Getting the store ready took a lot longer than we originally expected, so we held an event in the parking lot back in August 2021. We ended up drawing over 1,000 people — which was well beyond anything we had expected! That was a huge surprise, and it gave us confidence that the store would ultimately be a success.

Ten years down the road, what’s your vision for physical Limited Run stores?

We hope to eventually have a presence on the West Coast, preferably in the Bay Area since there’s a surprisingly low number of game stores there — beyond that we really want to expand internationally and have some kind of physical retail presence in Europe and Japan.

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