We reached our fifth anniversary on Thursday, August 10th. Hard to believe. Back in 2012 when we first opened the doors, that date seemed like the impossibly distant future. But it's here and now we have a new lease in Chandler that doesn't come up for renewal until 2022 and we'll all be Eloi and Morlocks by then.
It happened that our lease finalization occurred just in time for me to make the big announcement revealing the exact location right on the store's anniversary. I broadcasted a Facebook live video showing the new suite prior to construction, and we had a flood of happy responses and a handful of questions there and in the store afterward. Thus, this article to respond.
From the north, east, or south, or anywhere north of the US-60, by far the easiest approach is to take the Ray Road exit from the Loop 101 Price freeway, proceed almost one mile west, and turn left into the McRay Plaza. If you see the bowling alley, you're in right place.
From the west, it depends precisely where you are. Ahwatukee and all southwesterly approaches are best served to use the McClintock Drive exit off the Loop 202 San Tan freeway. Proceed two miles north and turn right into the plaza at Ray. The remainder of approaches from south of the US-60 freeway but northwest of the store, well, you're going to be so close it hardly matters; just take the surface streets.
The new location will open sometime in late September. The Gilbert location will close in late September as its lease is expiring. The MTG Ixalan Prerelease will either be the first big event in Chandler or the last big event in Gilbert. The PPTQ on September 30th will be in Chandler.
Q: Why Chandler?
A: Because Chandler is great! But seriously, it's already the community we serve to some extent, because our Gilbert location was literally across the street from Chandler's city limits. I first moved to Chandler in 1995 so I am deeply familiar with the city. We don't choose a business location based on where we live, which is why DSG started in Gilbert, but this time around the circumstances aligned.
Q: But what I mean is why not stay in Gilbert?
A: We really did explore many options that would have kept us closer, but this is the one that worked out the best. And Gilbert has not seen the last of DSG. We have already been approached by developers in the San Tan Village Mall Center plazas about property becoming available late next year. Branch location, anyone? Meanwhile, the Chandler location is so easy to reach from the freeway, and so many of our customers already lived west of us along the San Tan 202 corridor, that this represented no real change in distance for most folks. Even those living to our south or southeast have easy freeway access to the new store. But we know there are some players in our community who live northeast of the Gilbert store and the new location is basically directly worse for them. We're really sorry about that.
A: We tried! That would have been by far the least expensive option in the short term. Our landlord was accommodating and gracious and we worked with them for quite a while starting early in 2016 to try to reach a renewal. The reality was, there was not a suite in our plaza that had the right combination of size, accessibility, shape, and price that we needed, and we could not expand in place because we were blocked on both sides. So unfortunately we had to look elsewhere.
Q: What other sites did you look at?
A: Commercial real estate is a limited market. There just isn't that much inventory of available space at any given time, and a lot of what is available is empty for a reason. We got as far as lease negotiations with seven different locations over the course of more than a year. The McRay location was the fifth one we contacted, and since they worked with us in earnest the entire time and made it clear they wanted us there, the sixth and seventh options were dismissed fairly quickly when they didn't show that same level of engagement with us. Among those locations investigated were two great spots that were excluded out by Gamestop, including a great space on Gilbert Road and Germann Road two miles south of the store that I actually showed a photo in an earlier article here. We also worked on a group of suites on McQueen and Pecos (two plazas) where we couldn't reach a deal. Other plazas didn't return our calls or once it was clear we were not a Starbucks or a Verizon, they weren't interested. The retailpocalypse is partly the fault of unrealistic landlords who still think they can rent space like it's 2004. Fortunately, not all landlords are like that.
Q: Is the new location what you wanted then, or just the last space standing?
A: We really do think McRay is the home run we were after. Let's go down the list:
- It's enormous, triple the size of Gilbert and double the size of Tempe.
- And it's going to get bigger because we have first dibs on adjacencies.
- The price is right.
- Great area demographics, family homes and schools in every direction.
- Abundant parking, which had been a problem at both existing locations.
- Close to the freeway, one of my key criteria.
- Close to the Chandler Fashion Center Mall, a strong shopping attraction.
- A reasonable cost to build it to our specifications, e.g. no kitchen to dismantle.
- Configuration highly compatible with being our shipping and warehousing hub. And,
- With this lease, we have the exclusive plaza rights for basically every product category we sell.
Q: What about DSG Tempe?
A: I may as well address the elephant in the room. You probably noticed DSG Chandler is conveniently situated more or less right between DSG Tempe and DSG Gilbert. That was a lucky happenstance. DSG Tempe's lease is almost over. We are not going to be leaving the ASU area of Tempe, but the current DSG Tempe site (Tempe Comics) will likely close in a few months. Our new Chandler landlord owns another plaza near ASU. He is working out another lease for us as a branch location. So in all likelihood that will be the new location for DSG Tempe, and we're tracking early 2018 for that to resolve out. We'll reveal that location when it's finalized. This does not impact the Superstition Springs plan one way or the other.
Q: Okay, I suppose Chandler's going to be pretty good. What's in it for me?
A: Glad you asked. I'm going to take a few paragraphs here just to give you a taste of what's to come and what we have in the works for the near future:
- Magic. Every major format on the calendar, multiple formats each night and for FNM, gigantic PPTQs with big prizes, the return of major TCGPlayer and Star City events, and Chandler will be the central hub for the combined Magic singles inventory of both Gilbert and Tempe. In other words, it will be paradise. Additional great offers from time to time will be announced first to our Facebook MTG group, "DSG Magic: the Gathering Lounge." Join today!
- Pokemon, Destiny, Final Fantasy, Dragon Ball Super, other TCGs. Chandler is going to support essentially every major TCG. We still have no plans to run Yugioh events but the product will be stocked. Singles are going to be supported for most or all TCGs. In-store pickup for TCGPlayer orders and DSG website orders will be supported. We will be buying singles at the best rates in town, just as we do now.
- Video games. This will be the single biggest growth area at Chandler. Not only have we been pumping non-stop resources into growing our video game inventory, including very generous buy pricing across the board on top titles, but our DSG Vintage Arcade will be returning! Pinball and classic arcade games and fighting games and much more!
- Warhammer / Tabletop miniature wargames. This will be one of the most visible upgrades. The "Megatables" plan we discussed in our "DSG Wargames" Facebook group (Join today!) is going to happen! We will also have enough room to stock deep into all of Games Workshop, lots of Battlefoam, all of X-Wing, and much more. We will also start buying used minis again shortly after we're underway.
- Board games. Our used board game buy-sell-trade program has been a great success and will continue at Chandler. With room to grow, the board game stock will get much bigger. We will continue to run and will be adding organized play from the likes of Fantasy Flight, CMON, AEG, Renegade, and more. And best of all, we are going to have room for open play for tabletop games in general on Friday nights, rather than players being crowded out by Friday Night Magic!
- Role-playing games. Much like with board games, Friday night D&D at DSG will finally be a reality, and we know a lot of you have been asking for this. Bear with us as we find a way to situate tables so that there is some separation between the multiple player groups. Early on this will likely be achieved with grid dividers or rope-and-stanchion. Down the line, especially once we add an adjacent suite, actual separate rooms.
- Comics. It will be nice to have room at last to feature our entire stock of comics. There are some awesome comic stores in Arizona and we don't have quite their level of deep stock stored away, but we have a lot, and we know many of you have been waiting for this.
- Coffee. OK, this is for the future, not the present. We deliberately took a location where there would be an option down the road for us to add a coffee bar. If this happens we will open early in the morning.
- New categories! In the months to come you will see us break some new ground. We're going to go deeper into modeling, deeper into collectible toys and memorabilia, and much more. We can't wait to show you firsthand what the future of DSG Chandler will be like!
Any other questions, hit us up. Thank you for celebrating our anniversary and expansion. Thank you for being a part of our past, present and future. Desert Sky Games. New Worlds Await.