Old School Gamer Magazine chats with GameNGroove LLC owners Kelon Buncher and Max Vignola, who let us know what inspired the creation of their new store and what separates it from the other stores in the Cincinnati area

For more information on GameNGroove, head here.

Old School Gamer Magazine: When did this journey begin?

Kelon Buncher: It started in mid-May when the media shop where Max worked and where I helped with repairs closed its doors for good.  Within hours of the news, I approached Max about partnering to pursue his lifelong dream of owning a video game shop.  The rest is history.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What have been some challenges?

Max Vignola: One of the greatest issues we have faced during this process was trying to find a retail space. Cincinnati is currently experiencing a phenomenon of spikes in property values, which makes it very difficult for new brick and mortar businesses to find a home.

Another great struggle we’ve had to overcome is our inexperience.  We’ve both worked in retail for years, but neither of us have had any experience in actually starting a business.  Thankfully, with the help of friends, family, CPAs, and lawyers we’ve been able to find our way through this maze.

Then there’s inventory.  We realized that to cater to everyone’s tastes and needs in-home media, we would need an incredible gamut of products.  Kelon has an impressive collection of games, consoles, and peripherals, but not enough to fill a store with.  So we’ve spent day and night for the past 6 months scouring the internet and tri-state area for products to fill our shop with.  We’ve come into some amazing things through that process.  Just yesterday we bought two boxes of in-box games and consoles for a couple of hundred dollars, and at the bottom of it all found a Sega Genesis CDX in perfect working condition.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes your Indiegogo unique?

Buncher: Our perks are pretty standard: handwritten thank you letters, buttons, stickers, fridge magnets, t-shirts, and coupons for when our shop opens.  What really sets it apart is that for our highest value perk we are giving Game Boy Advance systems that we are modding with backlit LCD screens, rechargeable USB-C battery packs, and a CleanAmp v1.1 amplifier and speaker for the ultimate retro-handheld experience.

Old School Gamer Magazine: Why should someone support you?

Vignola: People should support us because this is more than just a business venture.  This our passion: our dream.  We are doing this because we love it, and we want people to love it too.  And people ARE going to love it.  We are going to enhance and enrich the local gaming community.  We’re going to give people an option to give their old systems and games new life, rather than letting them rot away in an attic or get thrown in the trash.  People should support us because we’re not just doing this for us, but we’re doing it for everyone and for gaming.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What will make your store a different one?

Buncher: Our store isn’t just going to be a store; it’s going to be a community space as well.  We plan to host gaming tournaments (in conjunction with our amazing next-door neighbors at Wondercade, Cincinnati’s only all-ages arcade, which is also about to open), gaming-related lectures and Q&As, and midnight release parties for games, which have not existed here for years.  We want to help the local gaming community grow strong.  Also, we will be the only shop in Cincinnati that offers repair services or games and consoles.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What are your goals?

Vignola: We intend to establish Game N Groove as a fully comprehensive shop for affordable home entertainment needs.  But we won’t stop there.  We want to become a cultural hub in Cincinnati by hosting regular live gaming, music, and film events, engaging with both local consumers and creators.  We want people down the road to come in and say “you guys are the reason I fell in love with gaming.  Now I make video games.”  That’s the goal.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?

Buncher: Well, open our shop, of course. Then be successful with it.  We also have plans on eventually going online with our business, and putting out a consistent line of repaired and modded systems to preserve retro gaming and to keep systems from being thrown in the trash.

Old School Gamer Magazine:
Anything else you’d like to add?  

Buncher: We feel very lucky that we have the opportunity to live our passion as our career, and are grateful.  We are both very aware that it’s not every day that people get to live their dreams. I (Kelon) have spent years thinking about nothing but family, gaming electronics, and collecting.  And I (Max) am of the same heart and mind when it comes to music, film, and gaming. Together, we have made a perfect match for this venture, and as we’ve said, are very excited to get to share that with others.

Let us know if there is anything else you would like or need.

Patrick Hickey Jr. Patrick Hickey Jr. (324 Posts)

Patrick Hickey, Jr., is the founder and editor-in-chief of ReviewFix.com and a lecturer of English and journalism at Kingsborough Community College, in Brooklyn, New York. Over the past decade, his video game coverage has been featured in national ad campaigns by top publishers the likes of Nintendo, Deep Silver, Disney and EA Sports. His book series, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Game Developers," from McFarland and Company, has earned praise from Forbes, Huffington Post, The New York Daily News and MSG Networks. He is also a former editor at NBC and National Video Games Writer at the late-Examiner.com